Greenville's Best Restaurants: Local Faves and Top-Notch Tables



There is no shortage of restaurants in the Greenville area but how does one determine which are the “best”? Is it the place with the longest lines or best Yelp reviews? Is it the brand new place that everyone cannot stop talking about? There are plenty of ways of judging what makes a restaurant stand out above the rest and finding them is a tough task.

For this exercise, we considered the restaurants that we would take friends to if they were visiting Greenville for the first time. These are the establishments that make us say “You can’t leave town without trying this first”. They are the kitchens that are doing things just a little bit different from the rest and are telling a story with each plate that leaves the window. They are the restaurants that make you look around the room and take it all in, knowing that this place is unique. From the blink-and-you'll-miss-it likes of Mekong to the James Beard recognized Anchorage, there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to dining in the Upstate. 

These are the Ten Best Restaurants in Greenville.



10
Downtown
Roost
Photo courtesy of Roost


 

For a casual lunch or a night on the town, it is hard to beat what Roost is serving up. The restaurant is visually stunning as you look out across a fountain onto NOMA Square at the foot of the Hyatt, an important landmark in Downtown Greenville's history in its own right. On the menu, Chef Daniel Dobbs is serving up casual, classic American fare with an emphasis on creative dishes with the freshest, locally sourced ingredients. The Smoked Rabbit Street Tacos are an excellent appetizer and the grass-fed Rooster Burger has its case for being the best in town. The Sunday brunch buffet is an exercise in overindulgence but that second (or third) serving of fried chicken makes it all worthwhile.


9


 

As a concept, The Trappe Door could have rested on its laurels with an incredible Belgian beer menu in its dimly lit, speakeasy-style basement location. Instead, they put just as much energy into the menu and quality of product across the board and it shows. From the classic Beer Battered Cod & Frites to Boulets Liegeois (Belgian meatballs) this is Old World food that warms the soul. The selection of Moules Frites offers up at least five different flavored mussel pots served with house-made fries that can't be beaten. Fourteen taps are joined by a seemingly limitless selection of bottled beers for an adventure in Belgian brewing and the perfect pairings to some high-quality cuisine.


8
Downtown

 

When you want sushi, look no further than the unofficial gateway to Downtown Greenville – the corner of North Main and College Streets. On the corner across from the Hyatt, you will find Sushi Go where Chef Max Godo is serving up the freshest and most innovative bites of sushi in town. From traditional rolls and Nigiri to more elaborate servings like the Godzilla and Volcano rolls, you will not be disappointed by the quality and variety on the menu. Even if sushi is not your cup of tea, cooked items like the Shrimp Shumai and Baked Mussels are well worth a visit (and pair nicely with a cup of sake – hot or cold).


7
Wade Hampton
ASADA


 

Asada began as one of the Upstate's first food trucks but the regularly sold-out dinner services made it clear that a brick and mortar establishment was necessary. Their brand of Mission Style Tacos are inspired by owners Gina and Roberto's time in San Francisco but with an endless supply of other ethnic influences sprinkled in. Their classic tacos, quesadillas and burritos feature the usual suspects in terms of ingredients – melted queso, pico de gallo, sour cream and the like – presented in the highest quality you will find anywhere. Dig a little deeper and you will find things like the Japanese inspired Chicken Karaage taco and the Nicaraguan Style Churrasco keeping your palate on its toes with a whole world of influences at play. The love Gina and Roberto put into their cuisine is on display as Roberto is always popping out from his place in the kitchen for a handshake across the counter and Gina continually wears out a path to the customer side to offer hugs to their regular customers.


6


 

Focusing on the best local ingredients while supporting local farmers, Stella's Southern Bistro features fine regional cuisine, inspired by the coastal Carolinas and the American South. Stella's offers an intimate, but cozy atmosphere that makes it the ideal choice for a date or a night out with friends. Start with a plate of their specialty cheese or Stella's Sampler, before enjoying one of their delicious entrees that include steak, shrimp and grits and fried chicken. You can finish your evening with an exceptional dessert or a drink from the bar.


5
Wine Cafe at Northampton Wines
Photo courtesy of Northampton Wines


 

This restaurant developed from Northampton Wine's much-applauded wine shop and is a natural outgrowth of its focus on quality goods. The bright, narrow space is quiet and decidedly unpretentious so it's a great place for date night or a low-key celebration. The menu boasts dishes like grilled quail & boar, elk meatloaf, and a filet mignon that is cooked to perfection. Each dish is accompanied by suggestions for wine pairings or you can choose a bottle from the shop and have it served with your meal. Special wine dinners are available regularly as are wine tastings and event space for private parties.


4
Mekong Restaurant


 

Mekong is a classic example of when not to judge a book by its cover. The building is a long departed fast food establishment (Long John Silver's, perhaps?) that, in all honesty, does not scream "Top 10 Restaurant!" from the rooftop. Don't let that fool you because inside, Mekong's kitchen is churning out some truly spectacular Vietnamese cuisine. Choose from a huge selection of authentic Vietnamese sandwiches, vermicelli bowls, and Pho soups at reasonable prices for a fabulous lunch or dinner. The fried calamari is the best in town and the lemongrass beef vermicelli cannot be beaten. While you are there, make sure you loop around to the back of the restaurant to see the "bucket garden" which supplies much of the restaurant's produce throughout the growing season.


3


 

If it is date night, a birthday, or anniversary and you want to pull out all the stops, Halls Chophouse is the place to go. The location is stunning with a two-story glass wall gazing out upon the Reedy River and Downtown Greenville – the perfect backdrop to a luxurious evening out. Select from 28-day dry aged steaks, grass-fed or Japanese Wagyu filets, or less traditional menu items like bison, duck, lamb, or locally raised trout. There are no wrong answers at Hall's and you are guaranteed a dining experience you will not soon forget.


2
Fork & Plough
Photo courtesy of Fork & Plough


 

Fork & Plough is exactly what one might expect out of a partnership between a couple of local farmers and High Cotton's former Executive Chef. The ambiance is casual, the ingredients are fresh, local, and loved, and the plates coming out of the kitchen are phenomenal across the board. Go for lunch and one of the best burgers or wing plates you will ever eat or enjoy a nice dinner with a Greenbrier Farm's pork chop served over herb risotto. Chef Shawn Kelly introduces a brand new menu almost daily so don't get too attached to any one thing (except maybe that burger, of course) and be ready to have your mind blown with every visit.


1
West Greenville


 

When Chef Greg McPhee set out to open his own restaurant, we all knew it was going to be a success. What we did not know is that he would earn a James Beard nomination in his first year in business and be partnering with a local farmer to grow his own produce in his second. Bring a group and enjoy the Tasting Table, a five-course, chef selected assortment of the best locally sourced ingredients prepared as only Chef McPhee can do. You will also fall in love with the cocktail menu with treats like "I Love It When You Call Me Big Grappa" and "Rutabaga Ginsburg" just waiting to make your night.


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Meet Brett Barest

Brett Barest is a freelance writer in Greenville, South Carolina that has watched the city grow from cow pastures and boarded up buildings to the tourist destination it has become today. He...  More About Brett

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