Best Places To Eat In Greenville, SC

Best Places To Eat In Greenville, SC

There are plenty of famous food cities in the U.S. – New Orleans, New York, Austin, Nashville, and San Francisco to name a few – while other cities struggle to secure a toehold among the culinary elites. Through my travels I have found that many cities actually do offer a comparable level of quality and originality in their cookery. There are many under-the-radar food destinations in the U.S. and many of the lesser-known food cities offer superior quality meals at a lower cost with restaurants that will absolutely amaze you.

Greenville’s food scene isn’t just for local residents and the casual visitor anymore. This amazing South Carolina city, with its Southern charm and cornucopia of culinary contributions, is making a name for itself as one of the up-and-coming food destinations in the U.S.

What makes a city a great food destination?

In rare cases, it can be a chef who is so transcendent that a restaurant itself becomes a destination – like when Ferran Adria was cooking at El Bulli in Spain. More likely, though, it’s a wide range of experiences and flavors: a place where one night you can eat a classic representation of the food of the locale, and the next night you can dine at a place where the chef is bringing his or her own influences to create dishes of a singular nature to the table. Add some decent wine, or a local bar scene, and I’m ready to get on a plane or take a road trip.

The approximate half-way point between Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC, Greenville is a delightful Southern city that’s seen substantial refurbishment and growth in recent years and continues to thrive. It’s home to the resplendent Falls Park on the Reedy River (located just steps away from a rejuvenated Main Street) and notable festivals like Artisphere (an annual three-day festival highlighting more than 250 artists from around the world representing 17 different mediums).

Restaurants in Greenville and the surrounding area are offering food from around the globe: from classic barbecue, Southern comfort fare, and farm-to-table selections, to Peruvian rotisserie and authentic Afghan dishes. If that’s not enough, Seedlings is the first farm-to-table restaurant geared toward kids. And two major food festivals, Euphoria and Fall for Greenville, further enhance the city’s culinary chops.

Given that Greenville has no dearth of recommendation-worthy restaurants (120 restaurants, many lining the nearly 2 mile long Main Street) it’s no surprise that an online search turns up many “best of” lists, each claiming to be the definitive guide on where to eat.

Our idea was to find the best restaurants which support (or dismiss) the concept that Greenville is a food destination city. Happily, after many visits, we can definitely attest that Greenville is a worthy food destination city. We arrived at this conclusion after sampling a multitude of dishes at many, many places. We were not guided by other lists and some of our recommendations are not found on other lists though, of course, many are. We also shunned most online reviews like Yelp and Trip Adviser so as not to be unduly influenced. This was a hands-on search.

Everyone says you should follow the lead of locals when eating in a new city, but actual suggestions on how to do that are vague.

When looking for restaurant recommendations in our hometown and the surrounding area, we rely on friends and possibly review sites. Yet, when we are in a new city, we dream about an enigmatic “local,” someone who will guide us into the best meal of our lives, preferably somewhere “authentic” and off the beaten path. Though we would never expect this of a stranger on the street at home, we expect it in other cities from people like us.

New York City, where I lived for a while, has a fantastic food scene. That doesn’t make every New Yorker an expert. If you asked 100 random people where to eat you would receive dozens of different answers.

So what do you do when looking for the right recommendation in a new city? Your best bet is simply to know who to ask. Let me explain.

Few people are better informed of the ins and outs of a city’s food scene than the very people who work in it. I have always put trust in bartenders and waitstaff. “Bartenders know best,” is my motto for drinking and eating. Bartenders work with and drink with other bartenders who work and drink in other bars and restaurants. Whether looking for a dive bar, a fancy cocktail place, or a delicious meal, I have found that most bartenders will point you in the right direction. The same goes for your restaurant server, who works long hours with people in the food world. The advice from your bartender and waitstaff is some of the best you will get. In some cases, a nice tip to a nice staff member will help you discover where the chefs and cooks eat. You will then have guaranteed destination-worthy eateries.

Now it’s time to channel our inner Anthony Bourdain. We are going to eat around the world without leaving Greenville. If you want to savor all that Greenville has to offer, then this list is for you. Restaurants listed are in no particular order but represent the diversity in food that makes Greenville a culinary destination.

1. Soby’s

Style: Southern, casual, farm-to-table

Our favorite dishes:

  • Fried chicken – hot honey, mac and cheese, haricot verts
  • She Crab Soup – aged sherry, crab Roe
  • Braised Beef Short Ribs – Sea Island red baked peas, roasted poblano slaw, stolen old No. 6 barbecue sauce

Owner Carl Sobocinski is arguably the godfather of the revitalized Greenville dining scene. Soby’s is located in what was a shoe mart. Renovated, it has beautiful brick walls and a skylight, with inventive food, a well-trained staff, and a lively bar (huge wine cellar) which make this a must stop.

Soby’s
207 Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 237-7007
https://sobys.com

2. Trappe Door

Style: European with Old World atmosphere, casual

Our favorite dishes:

  • Carbonnades Flamandes – tradition Flemish beef stew cooked in Belgian beer, salad, Belgian fries
  • Beer Battered Cod and Frites – fish and chips Belgian style, sauce gribiche and brandy ketchup mayonnaise (for dipping)
  • Pork and Cherry Sausages – housemade pork sausages with dried cherries, leek mashed potatoes, creamy brussel sprouts, sherry and onion gravy

Underground spot with a speakeasy feel. Atmospheric setting. Large selection of moules (mussels). Huge beer selection. Open 7 days a week, which is a plus as many Greenville restaurants are closed on Monday.

Tip: Reservation advisable especially on weekends

Trappe Door
23 West Washington Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(846) 451-7490
https://www.trappedoor.com

3. Jianna

Style: Modern Italian Osteria with open kitchen

Our favorite dishes:

  • Char-grilled Octopus – potato, guanciale, pistachio, sherry lemon vinaigrette
  • Rigatoni – pork shank ragu, lunch box peppers, broccolini, spiced ricotta
  • Wild Alaskan Halibut – pancetta, preserved lemon, heirloom tomato, spring pea pesto

Chef owned (Michael Kramer). Creative twist on traditional Italian cuisine, Freshest ingredients, housemade fresh pasta. Handcrafted cocktails, 360 degree oyster bar. Sleek, modern vibe with indoor outdoor seating (overlooking downtown Greenville).

Jianna
600 South Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 720-2200
https://jiannagreenville.com

4. Mekong

Style: Informal Vietnamese restaurant serving soups, rice plates and stir fries

Our favorite dishes:

  • Grilled Marinated Quails-marinated quails with ginger soy dressing
  • Oxtail Pho (soup) – riced noodles, ginger broth, bean sprouts, thai basil, mint cilantro, lime
  • Steamed Duck Bun – braised duck meat, lettuce, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, steamed bun

Don’t be fooled by the nondescript building, Mekong is the real deal. We sampled many Asian restaurants and none came within a shouting distance. A singular dining experience. Check out the garden in back of the restaurant which supplies most of the restaurant’s produce during the growing season.

Mekong
2013 Wade Hampton Boulevard
Greenville, SC 29615
(864) 244-1314
https://mekongrestaurantgreenville.com

5. Willy Taco – Feed & Seed

Style: Updated cantina-style embracing a Holy Trinity of tacos, tortas, and tequila.

Our favorite dishes:

  • Baja Fish Taco – crispy white fish, shaved cabbage, charred tomato salsa, house crema
  • Mexican Street Corn – grilled corn on the cob, chipotle ranch, queso fresco, lime
  • Argentine Steak Quesadilla – grilled marinated ribeye, melted jack cheese, shaved cabbage, salsa verde, frizzled onions, guacamole, pico, chipotle ranch

Housed in a 1930s Feed and Seed store that underwent a multi-million dollar renovation, it’s now a 200-seat restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. Friendly, lively spot that might be the most eco-friendly restaurant in Greenville. Behind all the flash is a serious restaurant serving made from scratch food. Also a location in Spartanburg.

Willy Taco Feed and Seed
217 Laurens Road
Greenville, SC 29607
(864) 412-8700
https://willytaco.com

6. The Seafood Spot

Style: Seafood centric spot with a laid back atmosphere in clean spacious quarters.

Our favorite dishes:

  • Lowcountry Oyster Basket – 8 fried oysters, fries, hushpuppies, coleslaw
  • Lowcountry Fried Croaker Fish and Shrimp Basket – croaker, shrimp, fries, hushpuppies, coleslaw
  • Lowcountry Boil – shrimp, potatoes, corn, turkey sausage

Bringing the Lowcountry to the Upstate. Family owned. Also a Spartanburg location. This is glorious messy food, but that’s part of the fun. Owner Greg Brantley grew up in Beaufort and knows all the coastal staples.

The Seafood Spot
219 West Antrim Drive
Greenville, SC 29607
(864) 520-2018
https://www.theseafoodspotupstate.com

7. Aryana Afghan Cuisine

Style: A small, no-frills lunch eatery serving authentic Afghan dishes prepared by owner, Nelo Mayar, an Afghanistan immigrant with a stop in Germany.

Our favorite dishes:

  • Mantoo (mantu) – savory beef and onion filled dumplings
  • Gulpi – cauliflower curry with rice
  • Sabzi – Afghan spinach with dill and cilantro

Tuesday through Friday (11:30am to 3pm) the restaurant offers a large plate with two proteins, two starches, and two vegetables. Weekly menus posted on Facebook. Dinner is served on Saturday evening but, to our taste, lacks the variety of the ever-changing lunch menu. If you never considered Afghan food we think you will be surprised as to the variety and depth of flavor.

Aryana Afghan Cuisine
210 East Coffee Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(846) 236-7410
http://www.aryanagreenville.com/

8. OJ’s Diner

Style: Unpretentious weekday diner providing generous plates of comfort food: cafeteria style, table service, and drive thru.

Our favorite dishes:

  • Fried Chicken – turnip greens, mac and cheese.
  • Meatloaf (only Tuesday) – sweet potato suffle (OJ’s spelling), green beans, black eye beans
  • Country Fried Steak (only Thursday)  – mashed potatoes, lima bean, broccoli casserole

This is your quintessential meat and three restaurant. You either love OJ’s, or you hate OJ’s, there is no in between. We love OJ’s.

Tip: Daily specials usually sell out and  if you want fried chicken try to get there before noon.

OJ’s Diner
907 Pendleton Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 235-2539
http://www.ojsdiner.com/

9. Trio – A Brick Oven Cafe

Style: An eclectic atmosphere of rustic brick walls and handcrafted glass lanterns offering scenic views of downtown from picture windows and sidewalk tables

Our favorite dishes:

  • Jambalaya – penne pasta tossed with chipotle cream sauce with Italian sausage, shrimp, ham, corn, mushrooms, green onions topped with parmesan.
  • Margherita Pizza – herb infused olive oil, roasted garlic mozzarella, parmesan, oregano, diced roma tomatoes, fresh basil.
  • Baked Caprese – toasted baguette slices baked with roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, diced balsamic onions, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil.

If you want local, this is local. Trio was the most recommended spot by bartenders, waitstaff, and chefs. Owner Steve Boone has created a spotless home away from home.

Trio – A Brick Oven Cafe
22 North Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 467-1000
https://www.triocafe.com

10. Maverick Biscuits

Style: A fresh from scratch restaurant featuring an incredible array of flaky tasty biscuits in a spacious setting that includes patio and drive through

Our favorite dishes:

  • Crabcake Benedict – crabake, fried green tomato and chow chow topped with hollandaise on a buttermilk biscuit
  • Hangover – buttermilk biscuit, fried chicken bacon, scrambled eggs and candied jalapenos, homemade gravy. For the bold, a shot of fireball
  • Floyd’s Lumberjack Breakfast – two cage free eggs your way, Neese’s sausage, Allen Bros. grits, gravy

Everything fresh, everything sourced locally. These are huge biscuits. Taylors, SC, is a short 20 minute drive. Friendly, attentive service.

Maverick Biscuits
2819 Wade Hampton Boulevard
Taylors, SC 29687
(864) 631-1191
https://www.maverickbiscuit.com/

11. SOCIETY Sandwich Bar Social Club

Style: Industrial, art deco digs with an emphasis on fun

Our favorite dishes:

  • Voodoo Ramen – tonkotsu broth with ramen noodles, blackened shrimp, andouille sausage, soft boiled egg, green/red bell peppers, fried okra, Old Bay hot sauce
  • Cowabunga Dude – toasted flatbread, marinara, mozzarella, ricotta, pepperoni, salami, shaved parmesan, basil, olive oil, cracked red pepper
  • Post Balone – fried bologna, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, mozzarella, english mustard, sriracha drizzle

Gourmet pressed sandwiches, super fresh salads, ramen, and booze. Two floors, two bars. Amazing chef Chris Rosensteel is a veteran of Iron Chef competitions. Owner Jeremy Kreuzer is all about atmosphere, food and fun. Located in the spot vacated by the iconic Charles Steakhouse which opened in 1921 and was at this location 1933-2014.

SOCIETY Sandwich Bar & Social Club
18 East Coffee Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 203-7046
https://www.societygvl.com/

12. Pita House

Style: Family-run, classic, Middle Eastern restaurant with adjacent market

Our favorite dishes:

  • Falafel (vegetarian hamburger) – vegetarian patties prepared from ground chickpeas, seasonings, cooked in vegetable oil
  • Lamb Shish Kebab – two skewers of charbroiled lamb marinated with special seasonings, rice pilaf salad, fresh homemade pita
  • Stuffed Grape Leaves – Middle Eastern style rice, stuffed and rolled in grape leaves, then cooked in tomato sauce, homemade yogurt

Comfortable friendly place serving top notch Middle Eastern food. Bountiful market, and if olives are your thing, you will be very happy. Mobbed at lunch. Pita bread is made fresh everyday.

Tip: Cash or check only

Pita House
495 South Pleasantburg Drive
Greenville, SC 29607
(864) 271-9895
http://www.pitahousesc.com/

13. Sushi Go

Style: Modest eatery offering innovative sushi, udon and other Japanese specialties with a relaxed laid back vibe

Our favorite dishes:

  • Fried Ankimo – fried foie gras of the sea (monkfish liver)
  • Soft Shell Crab Salad – fried soft shell crabs with snow crab mix on top of crispy lettuce with a pungent dressing
  • Unajuju – BBQ eel on top of steamed rice

Chef Max Goddo is a classically trained sushi chef turning out the freshest and most innovative bites of sushi in Greenville. From traditional rolls to Nigiri to more elaborative creations like Godzilla and Volcano rolls, creative specials, sake, and more. The only sushi spot in Greenville that you need to know.

Sushi Go
247 North Main Street
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 631-1145
http://www.sushigousa.com/

14. The Lazy Goat

Style: Inspired Mediterranean small plates in elegant surroundings with open kitchen and patio

Our favorite dishes:

  • NC Trout Provencal – smoked tomato sauce, olives, garlic, squash, grilled artichokes, olive oil, garlic chive
  • Tunisian Pork Tenderloin – harissa, pickles, couscous, garlic yogurt
  • Smoked Paprika Tagliatelle – chorizo, calabrese chili oil, roasted tomato, herbed goat cheese

Globally influenced food from Spain, Morocco, Italy, France, Greece, Africa, and the Middle East. Overlooks Reedy River, platform bars, patio. Superior dining experience.

The Lazy Goat
170 Riverplace
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 679-5299
https://thelazygoat.com/

15. Mr. Egg O Little India

Style: Unpretentious quaint little spot serving savory Indian cuisine with an adjoining small market

Our favorite dishes:

  • Egg Boil Green Tikka – boiled egg slices simmered in garlic, ginger, chili, and cilantro paste
  • Cheese Butter Masala – curry made with onion, tomatoes, cashew, cream, butter, Indian cheese (tip – make sure you have it with some buttered naan)
  • Stuffed Pompano Masala – pompano stuffed with chili, garlic, ginger, lemon, tamarind, Indian spices, slow cooked for 25 – 30 minutes

Great value. Incredibly friendly service. Fifteen Indian egg dishes. We received 5 recommendations for Indian fare. We tried them all and it was no contest; Mr. Egg was the winner by a knockout!

Tip: Don’t overlook the Indian market

Mr. Egg O Little India
435 North Pleasantburg Drive
Greenville, SC 29607
(267) 304-0734
https://www.mreggolittleindiarestaurant.com/

17. The Anchorage

Style: Casual yet upscale farm-to-table experience with creative cocktails

Our favorite dishes:

  • Black Pepper Parmesan Occhi – smoked duck, apple, root vegetables, brodo, pistachio gremolata
  • Colfax Creek Pork Belly – grilled red cabbage, date & bacon mole, farm cheese, spiced peanut crunch
  • Spiced Grilled Albacore Tuna – tomato & olive braised potato, olive, tomato, shishito pepper

Note: Menu is ever changing and these dishes might not be available

 

Located in the Village of West Greenville with a colorful mural adorning the front and patio seating. Chef Greg McPhee was a James Beard semi-finalist in 2018 for Best New Restaurant. A major accomplishment considering it was his first year in business. Locally-sourced ingredients and innovative menu in understated surroundings. Food, drink, and service adds up to a stellar evening and, for our money, the best all-round dining experience in Greenville.

Tip: Make sure to make a reservation before you go

The Anchorage
586 Perry Avenue
Greenville, SC 29611
(864) 219-3082
https://theanchoragerestaurant.com

18. Bar Margaret

Style: A quirky inviting spot for unique cocktails and solid eats

Our favorite dishes:

  • A Damn Good Burger – local beef, american cheese, burger sauce, housemade poppy seed milk bread bun
  • A Damn Good Hippie Burger – veggies, mushrooms, falafel, feta, lettuce, tomato, onion, dijon aioli, focaccia bun (can be made vegan)
  • Aunt Say’s Loaded Fries – pimento cheese sauce, bacon, green onion, romano, fried egg over house cut fries

As we said, bartenders know best and it was no different with Bar Margaret. We received at least a half dozen recommendations and we’re glad that we listened. All in all a hip, welcoming place with a cocktail menu that changes almost daily. The hamburger was the best we had in Greenville. Check out the funky artwork. Knowledgeable bar staff.

Tip: Always check the online ordering to see the daily specials

Bar Margaret
1269 Pendleton Street
Greenville, SC 29011
(864) 735-0473
https://www.barmarg.com

19. S.B.H. BBQ Co.

Style: Award winning barbecue served in roomy digs with bar and outdoor deck

Our favorite dishes:

  • Judges Plate – ¼ lb sliced brisket, two ribs, pork medallions, housemade hot link, creamy coleslaw, texas toast
  • Froggy’s Special – two ribs, ¼ lb pulled pork, housemade hot link, texas toast
  • Smoked Turkey Sandwich – slow-smoked sliced turkey with smoked provolone

Some of the best barbecue we ever tasted. This is competition worthy BBQ and, in fact, the people behind the brick and mortar operation have competed on the KCBS BBQ circuit with great success including a World Championship. For our money, everything on the menu is a must try. Don’t sit on the burnt ends when they’re available.

Tip: Everything is made fresh daily and sells out quickly. Remember, the early bird catches the worm. If you are ordering more than 3 lbs you can call their hotline 24 hours and order in advance.

S.B.H. BBQ Co.
5021 Pelham Road
Greenville, SC 29615
(864) 509-1059
https://sbhbbq.com

Frank Sinatra sang:
My kind of town Chicago is
My kind of town Chicago is
My kind of people, too
People who smile at you

With props to Frank, we are going to take some poetic liberty and sing, “Greenville is our kind of town.” After eating our way through the city we are absolutely sure that it is indeed a food destination. And we have a feeling that we just touched the surface.

Bonus – Golden Llama Peruvian Rotisserie and Grill

Style: No frills restaurant tucked away in a corner of a strip mall serving homemade Peruvian meals

Our favorite dishes:

  • Ceviche de Pescado – fresh fish marinated in lime juice, red onion, cilantro, served with Peruvian corn, sweet potato, fried rice kernels
  • Rotisserie Chicken – plantains, beans
  • Lomo Saltado – beef stir fry, onions, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, soy sauce, served with fries, yuca

A Peruvian restaurant in Greenville is further proof that this is a food destination city. Spare, yet comfortable seating with a large back room. Order first, pay, pick up food (table service sometimes available). All menu items are made fresh daily. Anthony Bourdain would have been at home.

Golden Llama Peruvian Rotisserie and Grill
2435 North Street #1100
Greenville, SC 29615
(864)373-9958
https://goldenllama.net