I didn’t say so in Tuesday’s post, but getting to spend this last week in Greenville has been a little surreal for Tim and me. We started talking about our upcoming anniversary back in September, tossing around ideas and discussing budgets, and I thought more than once that I didn’t know what to do. Stay in Nashville? Go up to Chicago? Keep checking cheap flights? Maybe Asheville or Knoxville or Birmingham? It’s not like we think we have to take a trip every anniversary, but we do enjoy getting to set aside a few days to be together each year, away from work, away from routine, as a tangible way to reflect and remember and connect. So when Greenville offered to host us and let us sample its food scene, it felt like more than a good opportunity—It felt like a good gift, straight from the One who sources every good thing. All week, as we met passionate food professionals and ate plate after plate of beautifully prepared meals, we kept thinking how thankful we were for what we received. Thanks to you guys, too, for following along with us on Instagram (@foodloves and @mitnollam) and Facebook and here. We wish we could have taken every one of you along with us, through the scenic eastern Tennessee landscape and down into the Asheville mountains. In this post, we hope to offer the next best thing.
This week, we learned there’s a lot more to see and do in Greenville, South Carolina than either of us had realized. But mostly, there are a lot of good things to eat. Here’s a look at where we stayed, what we ate and what we saw in Greenville.
Where We Stayed
Greenville’s downtown centers on one long strip called Main Street, and that’s where our hotel was located. Beyond the convenient location that’s walking distance from some of the best restaurants and coffee shops in the city, the Hyatt Regency Greenville boasts a glamorous lobby that wows you the minute you step inside. There are various seating nooks, an open bar, a workstation table with stools and computer hookups, entire walls of windows and stairs to the hotel’s on-site restaurant, Roost. Our favorite thing at the Hyatt: Convenient location.
Where We Ate and Where We Shopped
After Day One in Greenville, we took our time getting to our anniversary lunch the second day. Stella’s Southern Bistro is located outside the city, in Simpsonville, in the sort of unassuming building exterior that makes the white linen tablecloths and chalkboard list of purveyors a pleasant surprise inside. After an appetizer of grass-fed beef Carpaccio topped by arugula, capers, radishes, pickled ramp and red wine Dijonaise, Tim enjoyed the eggplant Parmesan sandwich and I found fall comfort in one of the chef’s specials: a hearty pot pie. Beneath the creole cornmeal crust, he’d essentially prepared a rich, wine-infused grass-fed beef stew filled with fork-tender meat and simple vegetables. Over favorite items at Stella’s: Carpaccio (Tim) and fork-tender braised beef in the pot pie (Shanna).
After lunch, we traveled north of Greenville, through rural roads to Campbell’s Covered Bridge, a scenic, historical destination built in 1909. The only remaining covered bridge in South Carolina, this tucked-away little spot stretches over Beaverdam Creek, where kids were playing and photographers were holding shoots. Our favorite part about Campbell’s: Getting out into the country and being surrounded by trees.
From Campbell’s, we returned to Greenville and wound up at Falls Park on the Reedy River, where we had a good 20 minutes to sit and be quiet together, side by side on a bench, Tim’s arm around me while we took in the lush landscaping and the sounds of the waterfalls. I’ve never seen a city park like this one. It’s pristine—manicured landscaping everywhere you look—and historic, with old stone steps that remind you of the textile mills and cotton warehouses that once stood where you are. Spanning 32 acres and featuring a large suspension bridge over the falls, this park is the first place I’d like to go back to, should I find myself in Greenville again. Our favorite parts about Falls Park: The stone pathways (Tim) and the porch swings throughout the park (Shanna).
The night of our anniversary, we discovered the best part of following a preplanned itinerary: You find out about places and events you’d never have chosen to go to, but which you actually turn out to love. Taking the “When in Rome” cooking class at Charleston Cooks! was an unforgettable experience. Our chef, Mark Pollard, who is head chef and store manager, kept the class entertained and inspired with his quick jokes and constant cooking tips. We watched him explain how to make classic Roman gnocchi, baked not boiled (!), but with semolina flour and beets; sauteéd artichokes and caramelized onions; roast rack of lamb with a walnut sauce; lamb meatballs with an agrodolce sauce; and ricotta tarts with cherries soaked in cherry brandy. Then he assigned everybody to a station to practice what he’d explained by making our dinner. Tim and I took the pastry station, and besides the fact that I almost dumped the cherries in too soon, we had so much fun. Also, at the end of class, the meal gets plated and everybody digs in. Sometime soon, we’re going to have to talk about Pecorino garlic parsley butter and how I want to eat it on everything, everywhere, from here on out. Our favorite bites here: Lamb meatballs (Tim) and the butter the butter the butter (Shanna).
We liked sleeping in on Tuesday so much, we did it again the next day. The first thing we rolled out of bed for was lunch, over at Pomegranate on Main, down the street a ways from our hotel. Clean and inviting, Pomegranate features a large indoor dining area with finished concrete floors and oriental rugs. Doors open right out from here to the covered patio. While we ate our appetizers—killer hummus that everyone calls Greenville’s best and now we see why, Kashk Bademjan, which is a blend of sautéed eggplant and onion with Persian cream of whey, and pitas—it was alongside a waterfall and a wall with mounted turquoise antique doors. The doors and the iron flourishes beneath them bear locks added by couples “locking away their love,” a nod to the age-old tradition throughout the world. For our meals, Tim had moist, tender salmon seasoned with onion and saffron, served aside delicious herbed rice. Curious about the vegetarian options, I ordered a veggie kabob, which turned out to be an enormous plate of large, charred onions, tomatoes, peppers, Portobello and eggplant, next to a simple salad. Sprinkled with a little of the sumac that comes on every table, this meal left me incredibly satisfied—not so satisfied that we couldn’t enjoy the hot fudge chocolate cake they brought us, though, such a splurge and such a treat, baked by the owner’s wife. (Note from Tim: I especially enjoyed the after dinner loose leaf tea!) What we liked best here: “Can I say hummus slash salmon slash tea?” (Tim) and the perfect texture of the hummus (Shanna).
The west side of Greenville holds the coolest little neighborhood of art galleries and shops, including Barb Blair’s Knack, which took my breath away as soon as we pulled up. I’ve been following Barb on social media for a long enough time that I don’t remember when I started, so meeting her felt like meeting someone I already know. Her shop is completely charming: White string lights in front, hand lettering on the windows, unique furniture pieces that she’s refinished and named and will absolutely amaze you if you have any interest at all in bringing new life into old things. I walked out laughing at myself for being such a fangirl and holding two new treasures. Bonus fun fact: Barb is Sarah’s sister, which basically means their parents did something right. What we liked best here: The overall aesthetic (Shanna) and Barb’s refinished furniture (Tim).
Coffee & Crema is the cutest nook of a coffee shop, tucked into a little cutout window on main street. We shared drinks there (bought them and walked across the street to an open seating area) with long-time friend and (one of my favorite writers!), Kathryn, along with her husband Jivan. They not only rearranged their work hours to meet us in the middle of the day, but when they did, they offered some of the most encouraging, meaningful conversation we’ve had in a while. Trip highlight.
Steps off Main Street, on Coffee Street, a staircase leads down to Coffee Underground, a hip place I’ve been hearing about for years because of friends who went to college in town. My senior-year roommate met us there for pots of tea, driving from an hour away to make it happen, and the spacious seating areas made our nonstop conversation comfortable and easy. What’s great about Coffee Underground: So much seating, it’s an easy place to meet friends, talk loudly and not feel conspicuous.
If there was one restaurant we knew we wanted to visit in Greenville, even before we got in the car to come, it was American Grocery. Almost every person we know who is connected to this city and who loves good food has raved about this restaurant. The chef at our cooking class said he’s never had a bad meal there. With a reputation for sourcing locally and organically as much as possible, American Grocery is upscale dining with a Southern and high-quality focus. After my massaged kale salad and Tim’s salad with Asian pears and spiced squash, I enjoyed the chef’s selection of vegetables, which included a small preparation of layered potatoes that were part au gratin and part crispy roasted, and Tim got the cornmeal trout. We were also given the chance to try two deep-fried deviled eggs, and, people, they were one of the most unique things I have ever tasted. Further proof that anything deep-fried tastes good. Our favorites at American Grocery: Earl Grey cocktail (Tim) and the mushrooms on my vegetable plate, savory and reddish and unlike any other portabello I’ve tried (Shanna).
This morning’s breakfast at Tupelo Honey Café, tucked just behind Anthropologie, reminded us of Asheville and of our friends Jordan and Sue. This Greenville location feels sleeker and newer than the one in Asheville, but with the same country charm that comes from hanging windowpanes, rustic furniture and the tall, fluffy biscuits they serve before your meal. We started with pots of tea and then split a huge sweet potato pancake with peach butter and pecans, alongside honey-glazed fruit. What we liked best here: The whipped peach butter on our pancakes!
Our final Greenville meal was at the Café at Williams Hardware, just north of the city in the more rural town of Travelers Rest. This café backs up to the Swamp Rabbit Trail that we wish we’d had time to bike together, so while you eat your lunch in the screened-in back patio, you are next to swaying trees, the restaurant’s garden and regular walkers and bikers sailing past. We’re so glad we finished our trip at this spot—The sisters who own and run this restaurant are so charming (just watch the video on their website for proof!) and our light meal of salads and pecan-encrusted chicken patties was exactly right. They even sent us away with a slice of pumpkin cheesecake for the road, and, despite how full we’ve been all week, we managed to have that dessert polished off an hour or so past Asheville. Our favorite part about this stop: The views (Shanna) and the pecan-crusted chicken salad patties (Tim). But also, for both of us: The website video.
Driving home this afternoon, we already saw more colors in the mountains than we’d seen Monday on the drive down, a reality that reminds us both of the good to come in southern autumn and the good that’s passed in the last two years. Thanks again, Greenville, for being so kind. We’re glad we got to visit you.
Tim’s Three Favorites from Greenville:
- Getting to experience a cooking class in Greenville
- Good conversation with friends off Main Street
- Time alone with Shanna in Falls Park
Shanna’s Three Favorites from Greenville:
- Relaxing on a bench in Falls Park with Tim, an ancient tree behind us and lush grounds all around
- Getting to be hands-on in the cooking class and prepare a dish together, especially when it meant eating a meal involving piped Pecorino garlic butter
- Meeting long-time friend Kathryn and her husband, Jivan, finding her to be exactly how I thought she’d be—thoughtful, articulate and deep.
Other Recommendations We Didn’t Get a Chance to Check Out:
- Swamp Rabbit Trail: You can rent bikes!
- Tealoha: Recommended by my friend Heather
- Chicora Alley: Recommended by Sarah
- Lazy Goat: Recommended by Meagan, one of our waiters and a lady in our cooking class
- Passarelle Bistro in Falls Park: Mostly because it overlooks the falls
- Augusta Grill: An old Greenville classic recommended to us by our teacher Tuesday night
View Part One in this series //
Disclaimer: We visited Greenville on a trip planned for us by the city’s incredibly helpful and amazing Visitor’s Bureau, in order for us to write an itinerary for its website. Our accommodations and meals were being provided for us; all opinions expressed are our own.