Greenville, South Carolina. Who knew?

Greenville Downtown 2

I hadn’t a clue what to expect as I set out on the hour-and-a-half drive from Charlotte to Greenville, down in upstate South Carolina.  I’d heard some things–mostly that is was a lively city with a great food scene–but still, I was hit with an unexpected surprise when I rolled down Main Street that first time.  Downtown Greenville is ADORABLE, with its tree-lined streets, each adorned with cute little shops and boutiques plus restaurants galore.

Greenville Downtown

My first stop on the trip was to meet up with my new friend Nichole of Gap Greek Gourmet.  It was a cold and rainy day, so the subterranean oasis  that is Coffee Underground felt especially cozy while we enjoyed a quick warm up of the caffeinated variety.  I loved the place so much, that I came back once more during my short time in Greenville for a cappuccino and warm cinnamon chip scone while getting in some computer time.  It was fun and nostalgic sitting there listening to the conversations of the Greenvillians (did I make this term up?), many of whom were college students studying for what appeared to be an upcoming history exam.

Greenville - Coffee Underground 2Greenville - Coffee Underground Scone

After coffee, Nichole and I headed above ground to check out some of the shops on Main Street.  We stopped into the infamous Mast General Store, and I was super excited by their candy selection.  Every time I see Mallo Cups, I think of my mom (since they were one of her favorite childhood candies), and Mast had dark-chocolate mallo cups!!?!  I managed to exercise some self-control since I had a feeling I’d be eating my face off later that day, but I’m kicking myself for not picking up a pack!

While getting our shop on, we stopped into the Chocolate Moose for a cupcake.  The flavors change daily, but since it was Saturday, they had the highly coveted salted caramel cupcake on hand.  HOW CAN YOU SAY NO TO SALTED CARAMEL?!  There goes that self-control I mentioned… I’m not typically a fan of cupcakes (TEAM PIE, BABY!), but this particular cupcake literally left me licking icing off my fingers (so sorry, Nichole) and debating on getting another one for the road (I went back the next day and snagged one).

Greenville Chocolate Moose - Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Next time, I’m getting a salted caramel AND a S’mores.

Greenville Chocolate Moose - Smores

One of the things that makes Greenville really special is the Reedy River, which winds along throughout the town, including Falls Park, creating a need for several walking bridges that crisscross over the river.  It’s quite romantic.

Greenville - Falls Park

Greenville - Park

Greenville greenway

The 14-mile long Swamp Rabbit Trail is an impressive greenway system that runs along the river, and provides an awesome path for biking, running, and just plain old meandering.  You can easily rent bikes from Reedy Rides, right downtown, and head out on the paths.  If you head east on the trail, you can ride all the way to Greenville Zoo, and if you head north you can hit up Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery for coffee, sandwiches, scones (I loved the kale and cheddar), and lots of healthy, local provisions.

Greenville Mice on MainGreenville Reedy Rides

What’s with the mouse?  There are nine bronze Mice on Main Street–a fun, kid-friendly (but totally not just for kids) scavenger hunt of sorts that gives you an excuse to walk around Main Street.  I recommend snapping a selfie with each mouse, even if it requires you to lay down and smash your face against the sidewalk.

Since it was raining cats and mice this day, we headed to the Thomas Creek Brewery for some shelter and some brewskies.  I’m a wino at heart, but I’m actively trying to learn to like beer, specifically craft beer because the Carolinas have such an awesome, growing craft beer scene.  Tours at Thomas Creek are only $5 a pop and include four beer tastings (my favorite was the coffee and oatmeal stout, which tasted like they added a shot of espresso to the brew).  Five bucks for a tour, history on the brewery, science lesson on making beer, PLUS four tastings?  Totally worth it!

Fervent Foodie and Gap Greek Gourmet take Greenville

Beer wasn’t our only booze of the day; there was also a trio of sangria (white, red, and rose… love, love, and LOVE) at SIP Rooftop Lounge.   Sitting at SIP reminded me so much of sitting at the rooftop bars in Charleston, looking down on the streets.  I can’t wait to go back in the summer and enjoy the open-air lounge with a sangria (or two)!

Greenville - SIP

So, what did we eat to offset all the booze?  Stay tuned…

The Chocolate Moose on Urbanspoon Sip Tasting Room and Rooftop Lounge on Urbanspoon Coffee Underground on Urbanspoon

Greenville Small Plate Crawl

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  1. two of Greenville’s best restaurants are NOT in downtown … Bacon Bros. on Pelham Rd. and Southern Culture on N. Pleasantburg Dr. … just so you know …

      1. I’ve lived in G Vegas most of My life and manAged restaurants in Myrtle. HANDS DOWN THE BEST FOOD IN GREENVILLE IS LIBERTY CAFE behind the great escape on laurens rd!

  2. Glad you liked our little hidden (for now) gem! Hoping you stopped at Luna Rosa – it’s my favorite lunch…and gelato spot!

  3. While you are tasting, and while you are on Main Street, head up the street and try the Moonshine at Dark Corner. No really. The butterscotch is quite a good surprise (and they are stilling it on site, so it is pretty cool just to check out). And if you love sushi, don’t leave G’ville without going to Purple (right under the baseball stadium). To die for!!!

  4. Next time, Include Barley’s and Addy’s in your trip! Barley’s, well, just awesome food and an amazing selection of beverage.. Addy’s, tiny and lots of dutch memorabilia to sift through, pretty much every corner of the place! Addy is nice too! 🙂 It would take every single night for a month or two to discover the gems we have, come back in spring/ summer for a baseball game downtown! Thanks for the great review of our home! 🙂

  5. Try the Jerk Chicken Sandwich at the Mellow Mushroom! AWESOME I have lived here all my life and LOVE my downtown Greenville. It is especially nice in spring and summer….so many things to do and see!

  6. Another really excellent restaurant is Stella’s on Fairview in Simpsonville, combining the best of classic Southern with contemporary cuisine and the freshest of local products! Well worth a short (or long!) drive from downtown and absolutely THE favorite of all my transplanted family (refugees?) from the north!

  7. Check out oil & vinegar by the Hyatt and The Palmetto Olive Oil company on Augusta. You won’t be disappointed in the selections. Barleys is a great place to sample brews. I’m not a hug beer fan but I’ve found I love RJ Rockers Son of a Peach.

  8. Glad to hear you enjoyed Greenville; as a native Greenvillian (yes, I used your term…let’s see if we can make it catch on), I think I’m a little spoiled by our downtown. When you come back, I’d recommend stopping in Lemongrass for some Thai, followed up by a visit to The Marble Slab just next door for some dessert. For fine dining, Soby’s, Larkin’s, High Cotton, and Sassafras are all top-notch.

  9. Shh, don’t tell too many people! We like our downtown just the way it is, we don’t need it to become trendy or overcrowded! 😉

  10. Oh, & if you like wine, you CANNOT miss out on Stellar, the wine bar upstairs from Rey’s. The food is amazing, the wine is excellent, & the staff is friendly & helpful & unpretentious.

  11. My favorite restaurant is Takosushi. Also adore Coffee Underground (so glad you didn’t miss it!), Luna Rosa, Barley’s, & Soby’s On the Side (southern cuisine).

    Greenville really is a food destination city. Lucky me for getting to live here!

  12. there’s a lot of good stuff all over greenville county. i spent high school living downtown at the governor’s school (those brick buildings you can see behind the trees in the park). it’s an arts school for the entire state of SC, turning high school kids into adults and acting artists quite quickly. There’s a strip of galleries on the other side of main street along the river that are awesome. And if its still there, there’s a tea bar called “Ocha” that has some yummy drinks. You can see plays at the peace center, and you HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO go inside the poinsett hotel. Its been there for at least at least 100 years and is gorgeous architecturally. George Clooney amongst other actors have stayed there while filming. Haywood road offers lots of good places to eat and shop aswell! it’s a major area. There’s a place near there that’s a small airport where there’s a restaurant ON THE RUNWAY. you can grab a burger and watch private planes take off!! (can’t remember what it’s called, but they also have fried oreos. YUM) Woodruff road has lots of goodies too. Chewys is a new mexican place they put in and they have some awesome guacamole. There’s a bakery that makes fresh bread everyday and there’s lots of boutique shops, not to mention Greenridge, an outdoor mall basically. I grew up in simpsonville and it’s little downtown? talk about southern charm. there are more little jewelry and antique boutiques, art stores, mom and pop restaurant to die for, and old rustic buildings. Also! downtown greenville also has the ‘west end’ which is still growing, but we’ve got our Greenville Drive baseball team out there if you want to catch a game (i used to work there 😉 ) dangit. now i’m missing home <3

  13. You did not make up the term, “Greenvillians;” we embrace it happily! And I was specifically writing to say 1) you can’t miss Barley’s! And 2) next time at CU order a black tiger mocha!

  14. You have to head by Smoke on the Water in the West End. I’ve travelled the country and world and their Smoked Prime Rib is the best meat I’ve EVER eaten.

  15. You really need to try “Smoke on the Water”, go West from River Falls Park about 1 block. It’s on the left where the road splits. Great food, reasonable prices, and you should try their Brunswick Stew; order it as a side. Good selection of wine and beer, including local brews. Stays jammed, but wait time is usually reasonable. Also has outside seating when weather permits. I think you will really like it.

  16. One other place you should consider is “Cafe & Then Some”. It is a dinner/theater that has good food competitively priced and a fantastic stand up comity act. If your not local, you will still enjoy. You should make reservations! There is a Cover Charge, but it is well worth the charge. We visit at least annually, or more if they change their act.

  17. Glad you enjoyed Greenville. We love it too. Sugar and Salt is a great Colombian Restaurant on N. Pleasantburg.Not too far from downtown.

  18. Definitely visit Rick Erwins Nantucket Seafood Grill for the best seafood and ambiance in town. The food is phenomenal and the service is impeccable.

  19. When you come back, stop in to The Cook’s Station next to Smoke on the Water for some great foodie finds! It’s a kitchen store and more!

  20. Love this town. Best downtown we’ve ever lived near. Check Rick Erwin’s restaurant for pretty much everything. (The original west-end restaurant, not the Nantucket Grill. Haven’t tried that one yet.) Great food. Also, wings at Wild Wings.

  21. One of the best restaurants I’ve even been to is located right there in the West End of Greenville: American Grocery Restaurant. Farm to table, locally sourced, they even pick their own microgreens from a farm they own! It’s right across the street from the Warehouse Theatre – some of the best live shows I’ve ever seen too. What a city. I can’t wait to come back to it!

  22. Give The Community Tap a try next time you’re in town!! Great beer and wine selection to go or relax w/ a glass in the tasting room. Soon to be moving into a new space at 217 Wade Hampton Blvd. TCT also puts on a great Craft Beer Festival every April! Cheers!!

  23. We lived in Greenville for 12 years and found it to be the best restaurant town we have visited. The downtown area is like a movie set and is always sparkling clean, the weather is ideal and the citizens are hospitable. We would still be there except for the fact that all of our family is in Ohio.

  24. Grew up in Spartanburg, college in Charleston, chose Greenville to settle after husband graduated law school in Columbia. Best city in SC! Travelled all over US, spent 2 summers in Europe recently, visited Caribbean Islands and Mexico- will live in Greenville forever. Just the right size to have international influence, but small enough to raise a family safely. Lived here 24 years and always something new to discover! **Next time, have a picnic @Furman University with a fresh baked “Blue Ridge” sandwich and double doozie peanut butter cookie from www. Awesome place off Main St Travelers Rest.

  25. Be sure to pick up a jar Duke’s mayonnaise to take home with you. Made right here in Greenville for the past 100 years! The best mayo ever and it is sugar-free!

  26. I’m sorry you missed Sassafras restaurant The best shrimp and grits in SC and the entire south. My daughter is hostess there and will show you true southern hospitality.

  27. growing up and living in Greenville all my life, am not surprise to see all the positive comments about out our wonderful town,; altho” I live full time at the coasr, Greenvill will always be a source of love, memories and pride to me

  28. Sobys, the lazy goat, Passerelle, nose dive, papi’s tacos, Greenville beer exchange, trappe door, coffee to a tea, neue southern food truck, velo fellow, the cigar Boxx, the green room, lemongrass, brick street cafe, Sobys on the side… You’ll need to stay for a week. 🙂 let me know if you want details with the inside scoop on any restaurant I’ve mentioned or that has been mentioned above. Enjoy!

  29. So glad you loved Coffee Underground! I grew up there and watching the Greenville Scene grow has been such a fun experience! Living in San Diego now, I can only dream of the adorable little Main Street in Greenville, SC that continues to grow! If anyone goes to visit Coffee Underground my father’s photos (a local photographer AT Photography) has all of his photos up, gorgeous flowers too!

  30. If you’re a wino, be sure to check out North Hampton Wines on your next visit! I went to college in G-Vegas and am now in the wine industry- I go every time I visit from DC & can’t wait for my next visit in a few weeks! Smoke on the Water and Sassafras are also excellent for southern cuisine!



    1. Hey Glen, read the article….she spelled it correctly. The name of the bakery IS Chocolate Moose…it’s called a play on words….it’s English.

  31. Great article, Mary! I lived there from 1978 till 2005 and watched it grow up! I remember when there was nowhere decent to eat and the grocery stores weren’t much help either! It’s so fun to go back! And you’re right! It’s become quite the place for foodies! Thanks for reminding us what’s so amazing about it!