The secret is out. The once sleepy Southern town of Greenville, South Carolina, is becoming a fast favorite for travelers in the know. It’s an inviting city with tree-shaded downtown streets and the beautiful Reedy River winding through its center. And the South Carolina spot’s cultural scene is thriving with charming boutiques and galleries lining downtown’s sidewalks and local museums boasting impressive art collections.
But perhaps the most tempting reason to visit these days is its food. With more than 100 restaurants — and more to come soon — in its downtown, Greenville is reinventing itself as a destination for those in search of creative Southern fare. In recent years, stylish and modern hotels have opened, beckoning visitors to relax, soak in the area’s scenery and its growing cycling scene and indulge in its culinary renaissance.
This month the town, which incidentally is the U.S. headquarters for Michelin (as in the folks behind the famed fine dining guide), will be home to the highly anticipated 2016 Euphoria Food, Wine and Music Festival. The four-day event features exclusive tasting events with top chefs from around the country, including Charleston, South Carolina’s, Craig Deihl, Asheville, North Carolina’s, Elliott Moss — and even Chicago’s three-star Michelin chef Curtis Duffy. So book your trip now — and be sure to check out our list of top spots before you go.
Where to Dine
1609 Laurens Road, Greenville, SC 29607 • (864) 568-8115
This warm restaurant, which is owned by a brother and sister pair, is serious about being eco-friendly. Its decor includes reclaimed barn wood and bricks from an old South Carolina mill and its roof features solar panels for electricity. It should come as no surprise then that the food is locally sourced and sustainably raised. Be sure to try modern Southern-inspired dishes like the “Gritz Fritz” made with fried grits and pepper jam over sautéed collards.
1296 Pendleton St., Greenville, SC, 29611 • (864) 735-8539
If you love fresh and crusty bread then you’re going to want to tear into one of baker Wade Taylor’s artisan loaves. He crafts them from local ingredients in this fragrant new bakery in the Village of West Greenville and sells them at the TD Saturday Market in Downtown Greenville. Can’t wait for the weekend? Look for sweet treats like Bake Room’s monkey bread or chocolate croissants at local coffee shops including the Village Grind and Methodical Coffee.
One N. Laurens St., Greenville, SC 29602 • (864) 235-0404
You may have already indulged in this chic shop’s original Charleston location but Greenville’s newer store is bigger and better. The shop, which is known for its stylish European market vibe, as well as its large and varied chef-prepared food case, has sections for both dining and shopping. Stop in for breakfast dishes like the lemon oatmeal pancakes at the espresso and tea bar. Or grab a gourmet to-go option like the quinoa veggie cakes with red pepper coulis from the prepared food offerings.
103 N. Main St., Suite #400, Greenville, SC 29601 • (864) 552-1916
It would be hard to find a better spot in town to enjoy a breezy Southern evening than the open-air lounge area of this downtown rooftop tasting room. Sip features more than 40 wines by the glass in a gorgeous setting complete with twinkling lights and rustic barrel tables. Indulge in cheese and charcuterie plates with your pre-dinner drinks or come later in the evening and enjoy your sips with locally made truffles in decadent flavors like caramel, Malbec and sea salt.
732 S. Main St., Greenville, SC 29601 • (864) 232-7665
Come hungry and thirsty to this cozy upscale restaurant. Husband-and-wife duo Joe and Darlene Clarke are the perfect culinary pairing with Joe crafting creative Southern fare in the kitchen and Darlene behind the impressive wine list. The restaurant has been garnering national attention from spots like the Boston Globe and New York Magazine since its 2007 opening — and with good reason. For the ultimate foodie indulgence, opt for the prix fixe menu with four courses of offerings like sunburst trout with house-made gnocchi, each with a wine pairing.
220 N. Main St., Greenville, SC 29601 • (864) 298-2424
Sure, it’s located in the bottom of a Hyatt hotel but don’t let that fool you — this large, sleek restaurant is serious about its local love. They call their concept “soil to city” dining, which means that eating here will leave you with little doubt you’re in the South. On the “supper” menu you’ll find comfort food dishes like cornmeal-fried flounder, bacon wrapped meatloaf and crispy fried green tomatoes. And don’t skip dessert. Nostalgic options like buttermilk and lemon icebox pies are the perfect sweet end to an evening.
21 E. Coffee St., Greenville, SC 29601 • (864) 438-4698
One of the newest additions to the city’s dining — and drinking — scene, this four-story spot opened this summer and features a bar, lounge and rooftop as well as dining areas. You’ll find tasty dishes here ranging from classic cheeseburgers to a daily raw bar filled with fresh seafood. But the best time to enjoy this spot might be for a long and lingering brunch when you can indulge in a variety of mimosas and Bloody Marys alongside dishes like chicken and waffles or pecan-crusted French toast.
99 Cleveland St., Greenville, SC 29601 • (864) 558-0235
If you’re looking for a laid-back dining experience that still offers plenty of flavor, stop into the newest location of this local pizza joint. The first location was just outside of town in Travelers Rest and became a fast favorite for inventive pies and homemade ice creams. Snag a stool at the bar or step through the retractable garage door wall onto a patio lined with picnic tables and order creative options like the potato pizza topped with potatoes, bacon, caramelized onions and toasted walnuts. Wash it down with a pint of local beer and finish your night with a scoop of ice cream in flavors like caramel cheesecake, pumpkin spice latte or peanut butter and jelly.
Where to Stay
Five N. Laurens St., Greenville, SC 29601 • (864) 297-6100
For an urbane experience in the small city, book a room at this new eco-friendly downtown hotel that features a bold and modern design alongside amenities like a rooftop saltwater pool (with a fire pit and city views) and a colorful lounge where a DJ spins most nights. You’ll also find local touches in the 144-room hotel, including art from regional artists and South Carolina craft brews on tap. And if you prefer to travel with your pooch, Aloft is the natural choice as pups are invited along for your stay and even treated to dog beds, bowls and treats on arrival.
10 Road of Vines, Travelers Rest, SC 29690 • (864) 516-1715
Just outside of Greenville, this 13-room hotel was established by a Tour de France cyclist and designed for bicycling enthusiasts. The Tuscan-style property at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains features an in-house bike shop with Trek bike rentals and a cycling concierge to create your perfect route. Of course, there’s also plenty for those who prefer a more relaxed version of luxury. Take a dip in the saltwater pool, schedule a yoga class or treat yourself to a massage. And definitely plan on at least one meal at Restaurant 17, the hotel’s modern restaurant inspired by European dining and offering mountain sunset views alongside creative cocktails and cuisine.
Where to Play
Ready to work off some of that Southern fare? This scenic trail was once a bumpy railroad line nicknamed the Swamp Rabbit for the way it “hopped” along the tracks. Today, its addition to the city has turned Greenville into a destination for cyclists who enjoy cruising its almost 20 miles. Rent a bike at Reedy Rides in downtown or simply take a walk or a run on the greenway system. And, of course, there’s food here as well. Grab one of the homemade scones at Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery or stop into the Café at Williams Hardware, a former hardware store famed for its hearty soups and made-from-scratch biscuits.
This annual food, wine and music festival, which happens each September, was founded in 2006 by singer/songwriter Edwin McCain. Today, attendees can indulge in a smorgasbord of culinary treats from cooking demos and wine seminars to exclusive tastings and multi-course dinners. There’s also the chance to soak in the Southern music scene with live concerts throughout the four-day event. From brunch to brewery talks, there are still tickets available online (click here). Euphoria takes place September 22-25, 2016.
Whether you make it to Euphoria, are looking for an enjoyable fall getaway or are already planning springtime travels, definitely take a look at Greenville and enjoy this up-and-coming Southern travel destination.
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