But for a different experience a bit apart from the busier city center, drive 15 to 20 minutes northwest to the charming small town of Travelers Rest. Here, The Café at Williams Hardware is sure to fill your belly with deli-style delights and your shopping bag with unique gifts and souvenirs by local craftspeople.
The Café at Williams Hardware sits right on Main Street in Travelers Rest and along Greenville's beloved Swamp Rabbit Trail — Photo courtesy of Celeste Hawkins
Located in the heart of downtown Travelers Rest, The Café at Williams Hardware is hard to miss. This casual dining spot shares walls with Trailside Creamery, and both eateries boast the famous rail-to-trail pathway - the Swamp Rabbit Trail - in their backyard; you can easily arrive by foot or bike on the trail, or arrive by car via Main Street.
The Café at Williams Hardware is as much a lunchtime deli as it is a one-of-a-kind gift shop. Freshly made sandwiches, cold salads and delicious desserts make up the menu, while the storefront sells locally made foods and goods.
Menu staples include hearty sandwiches like the aptly named Best Reuben (It’s not famous for nothing.), delicious California Turkey Club and a chicken salad sandwich that finds the perfect balance between smooth and chunky. Your meal's not complete without one of the housemade side dishes - favorites include broccoli salad and apple gorgonzola slaw - and a tempting dessert such as strawberry cake.
Each day, a new variety of delicious desserts is on offer — Photo courtesy of Celeste Hawkins
Don’t expect from-the-can or once-before-frozen ingredients in anything. Themes here include fresh and freshly made. Portions are filling, and everyone can find something they'll like. Their made-from-scratch Black Bean Burger, for example, is sure to delight vegetarians, and most dishes can be prepared as vegetarian-friendly. The kids’ meal includes a sandwich or half sandwich served with chips or fruit.
Dessert should not be forgotten. Cakes, pies and cobblers are made on site and offer change daily, just like the specials. This means every day and every visit is a little different.
Drink options include a selection of beer and wine. But you might choose, instead, to down a Coke, Cheerwine or A&W root beer from an old-timey glass bottle. Or to sip on sweet tea by the glass. This is the South, after all.
Local artwork decorates the walls of the dining area, and most pieces are for sale, too — Photo courtesy of Celeste Hawkins
Choose a wooden table inside, where the walls are covered by the work of local artists. Or request outdoor dining on the screened-in porch. This spot provides an overlook of the Swamp Rabbit Trail and a brightly colored flower garden below, especially picturesque during spring and summer’s bloom.
Don’t hurry out after the meal. The store at the front showcases a charming mixture of housewares, homey foods like grits and jams, cooking ware, garden art, lighting, candy, local interest books, knick-knacks, photographs, artwork and other seasonal items, all created by local craftspeople.
Locally crafted treasures are on display up front — Photo courtesy of Celeste Hawkins
Owl-shaped salt and pepper shakers? Oatmeal-scented body soap? Threaded hanging lanterns? A compilation of Upstate South Carolina ghost stories? You’ll find them all here.
But even if for some strange reason the tasty food and country-feeling store don’t win you over, then the friendly faces will. Sisters Joyce and Nancy McCarrell own and operate the restaurant/store. You can expect to find them bouncing between tables, introducing themselves to both locals and visitors and sharing stories. When they ask you to come back, you’ll have a hard time saying no.
The cafe's country-style store, located at the building entrance — Photo courtesy of Celeste Hawkins
The restaurant and gift shop include lunch hours daily and breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. The café also caters and hosts occasional special events.
The Café at Williams Hardware is the perfect stop before or after an enjoyable day out on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. While you're in town, why not walk further up the street? Browse through the nearby shops.
Or if you've come by on a rainier day, enjoy the soup of the day at the café. Then, turn right back onto Main Street and take the first left to discover The Glade Salon and Day Spa. Get those muscles relaxed and ready for your next adventure.
Outdoor adventurers enjoy the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which eventually runs parallel with Main Street in Travelers Rest — Photo courtesy of Celeste Hawkins