If you’re a foodie looking for a thriving restaurant scene, search no further than Greenville, S.C., just a couple of hours up the road.
Fueled by population growth and record numbers of visitors, Greenville’s food scene is hopping. With over 600 restaurants countywide, downtown alone boasts over 100—with more on the way.
“Restaurateurs and foodie folks know there’s an audience here that craves something different,” says Andy O’Mara, who with his partner Loren Frant, will soon open Sidewall Pizza Company (@SidewallPizza) in downtown Greenville. “And once that snowball gets going, it gets bigger and bigger and people want more of it and all of a sudden it’s what you’re known for and what you get excited about.”
O’Mara and Frant plan to open Sidewall Pizza in a former Cleveland Street service station by spring of 2016. They founded the original Sidewall Pizza in an old tire store in nearby Travelers Rest. Sidewall Pizza is known for its diverse pizza, craft beer and unique flavors of homemade ice cream.
In the Village of West Greenville, Roots Smokehouse owner Ivan Mathena is adding his touch to an area that has seen positive change.
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“I grew up here and went to Furman and I’ve been here my entire life. In the last few years, if I had left and come back, I would not recognize it. And I mean that in the best way possible,” he said. “It has changed so much, and the downtown area alone, easily has 100 restaurants. What we’re about, and what we want to do, is open up new ways of looking at food and to use sustainable practices, not just in sourcing food, but in cooking food.”
Roots Smokehouse, opened in December 2015,t has an arrangement with local blues musician and restaurateur Mac Arnold who also runs his family’s organic farm in Greenville and has a place of his own, Dr. Mac Arnold’s Blues Restaurant, on Pendleton Street.
“We buy a lot of our vegetables from him and he brings us these huge, gorgeous collards,” Mathena said.
Other new eateries set to grace the Greenville horizon in 2016 include Butch’s Diner in the former Charlie’s Steakhouse space on Coffee Street. With its 1950s décor, complete with jukeboxes and plenty of chrome, Greenville’s only 24-hour diner promises the city’s best tomato soup.
The Charlotte-based Bottle Cap Group has also launched Ink n Ivy, located on East Coffee Street.
Touting “classic American food but with an edgy twist,” Ink n Ivy will have a full bar on the ground floor, restaurant space on the bottom two floors, an “ultra-lounge” on the third floor and a 12,000-square-foot rooftop bar.
After making its mark in Charleston, the nationally acclaimed Hall’s Chophouse (@hallschophouse) will open shop in Greenville. It’s been named the No. 5 Best Restaurant in the nation in TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveler’s Choice Awards and No. 4 Best Restaurant in the nation by Open Table.
The Bottle Cap Group strikes again with the opening of Brazwell’s Premium Pub (@Braz_greenville). Taking over the South Main Street spot previously occupied by Ford’s Oyster House, Brazwell’s showcases pub favorites like wings, appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees.
Spring and summer will bring the opening of other new restaurants, including Caviar & Bananas Gourmet Market & Café (@caviarandbanana). The Aloft Hotel on N. Laurens Street, situated next door, will feature a wine bar.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House (@RuthsChrisGVL) will open its second Greenville location in the new Embassy Suites Downtown Riverplace (opening September 2016); and The Cheesecake Factory (@Cheesecake) will be coming to Haywood Mall.
For those who like their cuisine on the go, Greenville also serves as the home of a fleet of food trucks.
Among the mobile offerings are ThoroughFARE, owned by the husband and wife team of Neil and Jessica Barley. Weekly menus, with goodies like meatloaf sandwich, are published on ThoroughFare’s Facebook page (@thoroughfareft).
Other food trucks include:
Automatic Taco, @AutomaticTaco
Cool Mama’s Ice Cream, @PinkMamasCones
WHERE TO STAY
Greenville has a variety of hotels. Here are a few spots to consider for an overnight stay:
Aloft Greenville Downtown — The new, dog-friendly hotel also boasts a bar — called W XYZ — serving small plates and appetizers.
5 North Laurens St., Greenville, S.C., 29601
Hyatt Place Greenville/Haywood — Located in Greenville’s premier shopping and dining district.
40 West Orchard Park Drive, Greenville, S.C., 29615
Candlewood Suites Greenville — An alternative to traditional hotel rooms.
25 Green Heron Road, Greenville, S.C., 29607
Hampton Inn Greenville/Travelers Rest — Budget Travel has named Travelers Rest one of America’s Coolest Small Towns.
593 Roe Center Court, Travelers Rest, S.C. 29690
Phoenix Inn of South Carolina — Just a short walk from the TD Convention Center.
246 N. Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville, S.C., 29607
For even more choices, go to www.visitgreenvillesc.com/hotels/.
IF YOU GO
Downtown Greenville is about a two-hour drive on Interstate 85 North from Atlanta and a 90-minute drive on I-85 South from Charlotte.
VisitGreenvilleSC Visitor Center
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., weekdays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays; noon-4 p.m. Sundays
206 S. Main St., Greenville, S.C. 29601