The unmistakable, picturesque charm of Greenville, S.C., courses through its streets and continues into its restaurants, where those seeking out a romantic dining experience are sure to find one.
In Greenville – now considered by many to be the next big food city in the South – the most romantic restaurants feature more than local, scrumptious foods and soft, ambient music; they offer unbeatable views of the area's most famous and noteworthy scenes.
Take, for example, High Cotton, located at the meeting point of the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail, downtown's Main Street and the Reedy River. The Lazy Goat and Blues Boulevard, too, find their place along the running waters of the Reedy.
Passerelle Bistro sits at the entrance of Greenville's beloved Falls Park, overlooking the Reedy and level with Liberty Bridge, a suspension bridge nearly synonymous with Greenville itself.
Other compelling views include downtown's Main Street from the windows of Pomegranate on Main, Soby's, Breakwater and Trattoria Giorgio.
Then, there's Restaurant 17, located away from the city and at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Travelers Rest. The awe-inspiring mountain views can't be beat.
And as you make your way to Stella's in Simpsonville, you'll discover yet another visually pleasing aspect of Greenville: its quaint and likable neighboring suburbs.
Whether your idea of a date night meal involves Southern classics, international flavors or innovative new creations, you're sure to discover a dining destination in Greenville that you'll want to return to again and again for romance.
Have you spent any considerable time walking along Greenville's Main Street? If you have, then certainly you've noticed an enchanting gate that encloses a charming, leafy patio just across the way from The Westin Poinsett. Maybe you wondered if the "G" on the gate simply pays homage to Greenville. But it's more likely that it's a tribute to the property's owner Trattoria Giorgio, where they specialize in pastas and other authentic Italian cuisine. You'll be delighted to hear that the pastas are made on-site, and the chef truly hails from Italy. Be sure to make reservations in advance to experience this intimate, lauded gem. (864-271-9166)
Blues Boulevard Jazz
The name fits in more ways than one at Blues Boulevard. As you might guess, it's a cool live music venue, with local acts several nights per week, playing mostly jazz and blues. But the actual space, too, is heavy on the color blue. You can pull up a seat at the sparkly dark blue bar before the show to enjoy small bites and a drink. Drink names pay homage to music greats. Take, for example, the "Etta James Sour Apple Martini" or "The Miles Davis Blueberry Pomegranate Martini." Music usually begins around 8 p.m., with a $5 cover. And, thankfully, there's not a bad seat in the house at this intimate music venue. (864.242.BLUE (2583))
Stella's Southern Bistro
Stella's Southern Bistro, located a bit off the Main Street grid in neighboring Simpsonville, affords hearty Southern favorites and a little romance without the price tag of downtown Greenville. Lunch and dinner options range from hanger steak and ribeye pork to shrimp and grits and Carolina flounder, with more of a balance between land and sea options than other local Southern-inspired restaurants. The menu changes often, with daily and weekly specials that keep eating here exciting. But what remains the same is the more casual atmosphere and dishes that use local ingredients. It's worth the drive. (864-757-1212)
If you equate romance with French dining, then don't let Passerelle Bistro in downtown Greenville escape your attention. The restaurant feels like a Paris eatery, down to the details of soft yellow walls and contrasting deep red accents, with fresh flowers atop each table. Not to mention the French words for "hot" and "cold" on the bathroom faucets, if you must know. The light French menu of salads and sandwiches for lunch and heartier dishes like duck breast and vegetable pot pie for dinner also includes an all-French cheese board and wine list. Stop by for a romantic lunch, inside or out. Passerelle's located right at the Main Street entrance to Falls Park and Greenville's landmark suspension bridge, Liberty Bridge. (864-509-0142)
Soby's tables, as well as its vivacity, spill out into the sidewalks bordering downtown Greenville's Main Street. Seating options range from the outdoor street-level patio to booths to bar stools and more. You can even perch up in the more intimate loft, for bird's-eye views of the open kitchen. Watch as chefs prepare New South cuisine or as the stringed lights, wrapped around wooden rafters, twinkle above a lively crowd. Don't get too distracted, however, that you forget about your own plate of scrumptious delights – perhaps the Antebellum Shrimp and Grits or signature Pork Tenderloin – or the special one sitting across the table from you. (864-232-7007)
The Lazy Goat
The Lazy Goat exudes an air of relaxation, inviting guests to come in, share a meal and stay awhile. For both lunch and dinner, they serve a menu of meats and cheeses; tapas-style plates for diners wanting to "graze and nibble" rather than narrow in on one item; and larger portions of Mediterranean-inspired dishes like paella, as well as pastas and pizzas. Situated just above the Reedy River in downtown Greenville, The Lazy Goat provides a scenic dining experience for guests both indoors and out. On warmer days, you may opt to eat on the open-air patio, within hearing distance of the river and the waterfall below. If you need to slow down and savor a meal with your significant other, then this is the place for you. (864-679-5299)
Pomegranate on Main
If you're willing to indulge in new and international flavors, then Pomegranate on Main won't disappoint. Don't let the thought of "foreign" Persian cuisine scare you off; though their authentic recipes pack a punch, the ingredients are both familiar and delicious. You might try the Tour for Two for a perfect date night meal, which includes a starter like the pico de gallo hummus; chicken torsh, shrimp and lamb kebobs; your choice of Basmati rice; and Persian hot tea. For added romance, you can even lock your love forever at the "Love Lock Wall" at their outdoor patio. The ceremony entails adding your personal love lock to the wall and then throwing away the key into a small fountain; they even offer a Champagne toast to celebrate your commitment. Now that's romantic! (864-241-3012)
Restaurant 17 – located north of Greenville in the suburb of Travelers Rest – affords unparalleled views of the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Soft, mellow music and the color-changing light of a hand-blown glass chandelier piece at the restaurant's center complement the already romantic setting. Meanwhile, the thoughtful selection of unique food creations changes just as often as the light's glow, largely dependent on in-season produce from local farms in Travelers Rest and nearby. In fact, this may be the most innovative menu you'll read in the Greenville area. Worth mentioning, too, is the staff's attentiveness to guest needs. Restaurant 17 will certainly go down as a special occasion to remember. To make the romance last even longer, why not book a room at Hotel Domestique, where the restaurant resides, for the night? ((864) 516-1254)
About Celeste Hawkins
Celeste lives in the Greenville area, where it snows one day and reaches 70-something the next.
But when she travels, it's usually with her husband to music venues up the road, big cities a few hours away or Spanish-speaking countries across the globe.
When she's not editing for 10Best, she's probably scheming up another website, blogging about her adventures and optimistic thoughts or taking pictures just for fun.
Freelance writing opportunities are welcome. See Celeste's website for more information.
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