Fonda RosalindaIf you’re looking for Mexican food beyond the usual tacos, enchiladas, and burritos, head for this little storefront around the corner from East North Street. Mexican-born chef/owner Rosalinda Sala, who started cooking at her mother’s side when she was a small girl, goes beyond the standard in her menu of South of the Border fare: sea bass with shrimp and scallops comes doused with salsa nopales (cactus sauce); traditional barbacoa (slow-cooked lamb shank) in Rosalinda’s choice of sauces; and chicken choices such as pollo en mole poblano, smothered with a spicy, housemade mole.
$$-$$$, L, D (no dinner Mon & Tues; no lunch Sat). Closed Sunday. 1124 N Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville. (864) 292-7002, mexicanrestaurantgreenville.com
Pita HouseLocated at the intersection of Pleasantburg and Faris Road, the Pita House has been family-operated since 1989. Inside, it’s bare bones—plastic booths and simple tables—but the cognoscenti come here for good Middle Eastern fare, such as hummus, falafel, kibbeh, and shwarma. The menu is basically the same for lunch and dinner; if you’re having trouble deciding, go for one of the sampler plates (they may set you back a few more bucks). And save room for baklava and other Mediterranean sweets for dessert. Want to cook up some authentic dishes at home? Check out the little grocery in the back of the restaurant.
$, L, D. Closed Sunday. 495 S. Pleasantburg Dr, #B, Greenville. (864) 271-9895, pitahousesc.com
The Purple OnionThe Purple Onion in downtown Saluda is a longstanding favorite for many reasons, including variety and quality of ingredients, the majority of which are procured from local farms. Make a dinner trip on a Thursday or Saturday to catch live music while treating yourself to the unbeatable Apple Brandy Farms grilled ribeye with rosemary potatoes.
$$, L, D, SBR. 16 Main St, Saluda. (828) 749-1179, purpleonionsaluda.com
Coffee UndergroundCoffee Underground boasts a wide selection of specialty coffees, hot chocolate, and adult libations. If you’re craving more substantial fare, choose from a splendid breakfast-anytime option, sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries, and desserts. And don’t miss live music, open mic comedy, improv, and more in the theater room.
$-$$, B, L, D, SBR. 1 E Coffee St, Greenville. (864) 298-0494, coffeeunderground.biz
Sacha's CaféBright walls and a long, inviting bar make a sunny backdrop in which to chow down on Colombian food at Sacha’s. Arepas are available with ingredients like beans, chorizo, avocado, shredded beef, and more stuffed inside (rellenas) or piled on top (encima). The patacones, or deep-fried plantains, are thick and sweet. Hungry groups can order the Fiesta Platter, a sampler that serves six people. To drink, try one of the natural fruit juices, or the imported cervezas.
$, L, D (no dinner Fri & Sat). Closed Sunday & Monday. 1001 N Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville. (864) 232-3232, sachascafe.com
MekongFormerly with Stella’s Southern Bistro in Simpsonville, Chef Huy Tran delivers the nuances of fine Vietnamese cuisine at Mekong. Among favorites is a noodle feast, featuring grilled pork, marinated with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, soy, and oyster sauces, and shredded pork simmered in a flavorful broth. Chef grows the herbs that are heaped in the bowl, and finishes the dish with nuoc cham, a Vietnamese sauce. Add a crispy spring roll and take your ’buds to a new dimension.
$, L, D. 2013 Wade Hampton Blvd, Greenville. (864) 244-1314, mekongrestaurantsc.com
Chicora AlleyChicora Alley’s Caribbean riff on traditional Mexican and Southern fare offers signature crab cakes or mile-high nachos, shrimp and chicken burritos, quesadillas, and more. With a Falls Park view or patio seat, you won’t leave unsatisfied. This eclectic restaurant also serves as a music venue in addition to providing private party and catering options.
$-$$$, L, D, SBR. Closed Monday. 608-B S Main St. (864) 232-4100, chicoraalley.com
Handi Indian CuisineThis Main Street staple offers the best of northern Indian cuisine. At lunch, sample items from a reasonably priced buffet with plentiful choices that change daily. From the menu, try the Handi Special: a sampler of tandoori chicken, lamb kabobs, lamb or chicken curry, and vegetable korma, served with basmati rice, naan, condiments, and dessert.
$$-$$$, L, D. 18 N Main St. (864) 241-7999, handiindiancuisine.com
Stomping GroundsLisa Suber’s café has an intimacy and warmth most coffee shops can only artificially recreate. Sure, the bare brick walls and local artwork help liven up the former furniture consignment shop, and the locally-sourced food has its roots in the community, but when the staff greets you by name, it’s clear that this kind of neighborhood vibe can’t be impersonated. Bring your own guitar or banjo for the Old Time Jam with Bob Buckingham the first and third Tuesday of each month from 7–9pm.
$, B, L, D. Closed Sunday. 208 Trade St, Greer. (864) 801-1555, stompinggroundsgreer.com
Rhythm & BrewsFood and music lovers waste no time getting down to business at this Greer watering hole. The stage features live acts such as Journey and Bon Jovi tribute bands and the menu pays homage to music legends with items like Mozzarella Styx, Onion Ringos, and Bad to the Bone-less Wings.
$, D. Closed Sunday & Monday. 213 Trade St, Greer. (864) 877-1990, rhythmbrews.com
Southern Culture Kitchen & Bar
Industrial meets organic with handcrafted farm tables, rustic, bronze chandeliers, and reclaimed wood beams throughout the dining room. Expect an uptown spin on comfort food classics like tater tots served in a parchment-lined Chinese takeout container with pimiento cheese fondue. For something a little sweeter, don’t miss the weekend brunch. The apple-stuffed French toast (adorned with melted goat cheese, maple syrup, and applewood bacon) will send you into a contented slumber. Frequent performances by singer/songwriters with Americana and blues influences make this spot the ultimate Southern experience.
$$, L (Mon–Fri), D (Mon–Sat), SBR. 2537 N Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville. (864) 552-1998, southernculturekitchenandbar.com
Due South CoffeeA destination worthy of a trek, tucked away in resurgent Taylors Mill, the interior is a tribute to the mill and its artisan inhabitants—from the vintage lighting, polished concrete bar, and repurposed cable-spool tables. A high window behind the bar casts barista and espresso alike in reverent sunshine—a fitting spotlight for immaculate espresso. Return trips are a must, as a rotating showcase of creative mixology and live music means there’s always something new in store.
$, B, L, D. 250 Mill St, Taylors. (617) 869-9512, duesouthcoffee.com
Quest Brewing CoCommitted to producing premium brews while minimizing their environmental impact, Quest uses malt from Asheville and Greenville-roasted coffee beans to also support local economies. Now you can support your craft beer enthusiasm and the sustainability movement with a single sip. Try one of QBC’s signature brews, like the Kaldi Coffee Stout or the Ellida IPA, on Thursday nights with food trucks and live music to boot.
Tues & Wed, 4–8pm; Thurs & Fri, 4–9pm; Sat, 12–9pm. Tours: Sat, hourly from 1–4pm. Closed Sun & Mon. 55 Airview Dr, Greenville. (864) 272-6232, questbrewing.com
LemongrassLemongrass Thai brings flavor to please. Choose from curry, noodles, and fried rice, or vegetarian dishes. The Bangkok Street Cuisine menu includes Siam Chicken (marinated chicken breast, grilled, with pineapple, carrots, bell pepper, cashew nuts, and mushrooms) and Prik King (chicken or pork sautéed in spicy chili sauce), while the chef’s specialties offer even more choices.
$$-$$$, L, D. Closed Sunday. 106 N Main St. (864) 241-9988, lemongrassthai.net
The PickwickThe Pickwick began its life as a soda fountain, and though it became strictly a pharmacy, the Greenville institution has returned to its roots. The Odom brothers, owners of the Pickwick, salvaged a 1949 soda fountain (restored to its original glory) from the old Carpenter Bros. soda shop and reopened the Pickwick soda fountain in 2007. Counter seating and a diner menu out of the 1940s compliment the 30 flavors of ice cream, milkshakes, and floats served from this stainless-steel and marble soda fountain.
$, B, L, D (Mon–Fri). Closed Sundays. 3219 Augusta St, Greenville. (864) 277-4180, thepickwick.net
Yogurt MountainFor those with poor self-restraint, YoMo probably isn’t the best idea. For everyone else, it’s self-serve frozen yogurt heaven. A bank of 16 rotating yogurt flavors lines one wall, while a buffet-style counter contains more than 50 toppings containing everything from the moderately healthy (blueberries) to the monstrous fever dreams of small children (chocolate-covered gummy bears). In addition to the Cherrydale location, YoMo has outposts on Woodruff Road and in Spartanburg.
$-$$, L, D. 3220 N Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville. (864) 232-2505, yogurtmountain.com
Luna Rosa Gelato CaféFrom the cobbled streets of Italy and the hustle-bustle of New York, gelato has found a home in Greenville. Indulge in this creamier, healthier version of ice cream, in a selection of satisfying flavors made fresh daily.
$-$$, L, D. 9 W Washington St, 241-4040. $-$$; L; lunarosagelato.com
Nu-Way Lounge & RestaurantThe Nu-Way Lounge’s dive bar atmosphere might not give the impression that it has gastropub quality and creativity in the kitchen, but Food Network Magazine named the bar home of South Carolina’s best burger in 2009. Enjoy their signature burger topped with pimiento cheese alongside live music on Monday, Thursday, and Friday nights.
$, L, D. Closed Sunday. 373 E Kennedy St, Spartanburg. (864) 582-9685
Compadre'sThis Mexican grill and cantina in the West End is a good spot to grab a bite and a margarita before a Drive game. Tried-and-true combinations of chalupas, burritos, tacos, and chile rellenos don’t disappoint, but authentic Mexican accents spark dishes such as a ribeye with cactus (nopales) and camarones a la mojo de ajo (grilled shrimp in a garlic-laced marinade).
$, L, D. 929 S Main St, Greenville. (864) 282-8945, compadresmex.com
The Velo FellowCozy in a funky way, the Velo Fellow is a hip pub under the Mellow Mushroom. Burgers and sandwiches form the core of the menu, which includes fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and—in a twist—tofu Marsala. In addition to the craft brews on tap, the Velo Fellow offers traditional absinthe service, complete with a silver-plated brouilleur. It’s a hard-to-resist hangout—especially when there’s weekly music involved, from live bands to Velo regular DJ King Harold.
$-$$$, L, D, SBR. 1 Augusta St, Ste 126, Greenville. (864) 242-9296, www.thevelofellow.com
Blueberry FrogThe frozen yogurt artisans on South Main Street pride themselves on being the first and best fro-yo establishment in South Carolina. Pop into the bright, sleek storefront to sample some of their fresh yogurt, prepared daily. Make sure you enhance your cold treat with a plethora of toppings: fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate and caramel chips, chewy mochi, and more.
$, L, D. 624 S Main St. (864) 517-7971, blueberryfrog.com
Bangkok Thai CuisineIt’s not easy to find pad Thai that has flavor beyond noodles drenched in sweet sauce. Luckily, Bangkok Thai manages to bridge the expectation gap with a fragrant offering. The curries are also a surefire hit, though the green curry is of particular note: it is the only one made from fresh chilies. For a different dining experience, take a seat on the floor pillows in the back room.
$$, L (Mon–Fri), D (Mon–Sat). 1440 Pelham Rd, Ste M. (864) 458-7866, bangkokgreenville.com
Grille 33 at the ChannelAlthough Grille 33 has moved from Main Street to Haywood Road, the menu remains comfortingly familiar. The Sammy Doughnut burger, which is topped with American cheese and candied pepper bacon before it’s sandwiched between a glazed donut, has been a consistent Fall for Greenville People’s Choice Award winner, while the Haywood (with hot sauce, blue cheese, and fried jalapeños) commemorates the restaurant’s move. And while The Channel no longer exists in its original form,
Grille 33 still offers live music Fridays and Saturdays after 9pm. $-$$, L, D. 535 Haywood Rd. (864) 552-1970, grille33.com
Grill MarksThe newest concept in the Larkin’s family, Grill Marks marries old-school charm with creative twists for a modern burger-and-shake joint. Brioche buns sourced from a local baker and 100-percent-certified Angus beef form the base of these succulent burgers. Gourmet cheeses, mushrooms, and bacon round out the list of toppings. Grab a milkshake for the full experience. If you want to experiment, there are also ShakeTails. Familiar flavors—Irish coffee, cherry cola, s’mores, and more—get blended into adult versions of those creamy shakes.
$$, L, D. 209 S Main St, Greenville. (864) 233-5825, marksburgers.com
Saffron Indian Cuisine
The aromas of North Indian spice blends are apparent the moment you step into Saffron’s modern, upscale dining room. The restaurant’s tandoor oven produces a mix of slow-cooked, flavorful meats as well as fresh-baked breads like naan and roti. If the spicy flavors of your dish need taming, try the raita, a blend of cool yogurt and shredded cucumbers. To sample new flavors, go with the lunch buffet’s rotating selection.
$$-$$$, L, D. 1178 Woodruff Rd, Ste 16. (864) 288-7400, saffrongreenville.com
O-CHA Tea BarA trip to O-CHA will have you considering tea in an entirely new light. This sleek space, located right on the river in Falls Park, specializes in bubble tea (flavored teas with chewy tapioca pearls), but also has an assortment of mochi ice cream for a more intense cooling experience in the summer. The dessert combines the chewy Japanese confection (a soft, pounded sticky rice cake) with ice cream fillings in fun flavors: tiramisu, green tea chocolate, mango, and more.
$, L, D. 300River St, Ste 122. (864) 283-6702, ochateabaronline.com
Spill the BeansWhether for post-dinner dessert or a weekend treat in the park, Spill the Beans fits the bill. This Greenville institution has been providing gourmet custom-blended ice cream and coffee to Main Street shoppers for years. A long list of ingredients ensures that it’ll be a time before you’ll taste the same combination twice.
$, B (Mon–Sat), L, D. 531 S Main St, Greenville. (864) 242-6355, stbdowntown.com
Table 301 plankowner Jorge “Papi” Baralles brings family tradition and the familiar childhood flavors of Cuautla, Mexico, to this walk-up taqueria on the Reedy River. The menu is short and to the point. Get your tacos with shrimp, barbacoa, al pastor, carne asada, carnitas, or chicken and chorizo, or sample some gelato in the display case. Get in, get out, and enjoy Falls Park.
$, L, D. 300 River St, Greenville. (864) 373-7274, eatpapistacos.com
Tortilla MariaLocal, organic, and gluten-free—while a growing number of restaurants check off those boxes, it is still a rarity to find Mexican food that satisfies those requirements. Enter Tortilla Maria. In addition to the innovative takes on enchiladas and tacos, the restaurant offers a colorful selection of healthy smoothies and juices. The Mean Green Juice blends apples, celery, cucumber, ginger, lemon, and spinach together for a refreshing, cleansing beverage.
$, L, D. Closed Sunday & Monday. 115 Pelham Rd, Greenville. (864) 271-0742, tortillamaria.com
Kilwin’sWho doesn’t like chocolate and ice cream? If Kilwin’s business model is any indication, there aren’t a whole lot of people who fall into that category. The American confectioner has been dishing out every imaginable cause of cavities since 1947, including chocolate, toffee, caramel, fudge, brittles, and salt-water taffy. It only makes sense that there would be ice cream—more than 40 unique flavors of Kilwin’s original recipe—to take advantage of all those sweets lying around.
$-$$, L, D. 220 N Main St, Greenville. (864) 241-2003, kilwins.com
Northgate Soda ShopThis North Main staple doesn’t just have one of the best pimiento cheeseburgers in town (even disregarding its $4 price tag—which just makes it even better)—it’s a hotbed for nostalgia. The old-school counter, vintage ads, and memorabilia are the result of being open for more than 60 years. The soda shop still serves up flavors and smells of a bygone era, including the hand-spun milkshakes in classic chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and peanut butter banana incarnations.
$, L, D. Closed Sunday. 918 N Main St, Greenville. (864) 235-6770, northgatesodashop.com
The Bohemian CafeTreat your taste buds and ears at the Bohemian Café, side-by-side with the legendary Horizon Records music store, which often hosts in-store performances. This eclectic café with an international flair serves up daily specials for curry and pasta. For Sunday brunch, treat yourself to a Bloody Mary bar or a deluxe mimosa with orange, grapefruit, or cranberry juice.
$$, L, D, SBR. Closed Monday. 2 W Stone Ave, Greenville. (864) 233-0006, thebohemiancafe.com
Jack n' Diane's Dueling Piano BarHolyfield vs. Tyson. Ali vs. Frazier. Piano vs. Piano? Taking up residence in the former home of the Brown Street Club, Greenville’s only dueling entertainment bar pits two pianos against each other in a battle of the ivories. Of course, it comes with a lively menu to match, featuring specialty cocktails like the John Cougar Melon and the Fresh Peach of Bel-Air. As for eats, the menu showcases a signature peanut butter burger (it’s exactly what it sounds like), chicken salad wrap, and freshly-fried mozzarella sticks.
$$, D (Wed–Sat). 115 N Brown St, Ste 100, Greenville. (864) 509-6414, jackndianes.com
Mac’s Speed ShopAcross from Liberty Taproom, Mac’s looks to be family-friendly for both the Harley-set as well as the post-Drive-baseball crowd with plenty of brisket, ribs, and beer-can chicken. “Start your engine” with a plate of Tabasco fried pickles, washed down with one of the 50 craft beers on tap. Daily drink specials and live music every Sunday make it a go-to spot for winding down the weekend.
$-$$$, L, D. 930 S Main St, (864) 239-0286, macsspeedshop.com
The Nose DiveCity bar meets corner bistro at Nose Dive. A wide range of beer (local, domestic, international), wine, and an ambitious menu make it hard not to dive in. Look for an elevated gastropub experience for every meal, from golden tilefish with shrimp bisque to a customized grits bar at brunch. Check the Nose Dive’s site for updates on live music and events.
$-$$$, L, D, SBR. 116 S Main St, Greenville. (864) 373-7300, thenosedive.com
O-Cha Tea BarA trip to O-CHA will have you considering tea in an entirely new light. This sleek space, located right on the river in Falls Park, specializes in bubble tea—flavored teas with chewy tapioca pearls. For a more intense cooling experience in the summer, partake in the mocha ice cream. The dessert combines the chewy Japanese confection (a soft, pounded sticky rice cake) with ice cream fillings in fun flavors: tiramisu, green tea chocolate, mango, and more. Bring your friends on Friday nights to enjoy O-CHA Unplugged, a live music series from 8–9pm.
$, B, L, D. 300 River St, Ste 122. (864) 283-6702, ochateabaronline.com
Smiley's Acoustic CafeWhen Mike and Chana Fletcher took over Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe in October 2012, they had only one goal in mind: keep the music on the forefront and the restaurant in the backseat. However, much of the menu is still music to foodies’ ears. Items range from casual appetizers like panko-battered Folly Beach Shrimp and Hot-yaki chicken wings to more upscale options like bourbon-brined stuffed pork chops.
$$, D. Closed Sunday. 111 Augusta St, Greenville. (864) 282-8988, smileysacousticcafe.com