Upstate on the Upswing
Greenville, South Carolina, is a big little town. Tucked in the folds of the Blue Ridge Mountains and at times overshadowed by Asheville to its north, Greenville has been quietly gaining momentum as a Southern food town worth knowing. And now, it’s time to pay attention. The Upstate city, long a destination for cyclers, hikers, kayakers, and the like thanks to its abundance of natural attractions, is now home to an impressive roster of restaurants, breweries, and bars. And there’s more on the way—an outpost of Sean Brock’s Husk is slated to open in the coming months.
Greet the day with a Blue Willow cup-clad latte and a stroopwafel at Methodical Coffee, Greenville’s first third-wave coffee shop. Craving something heartier? Head to Biscuit Head, a transplant from nearby Asheville with cathead biscuits and gravy flights.
For lunch, OJ’s Diner is a local favorite—expect the meat and three to be filled throughout the workweek (it’s closed Saturday and Sunday) with regulars hungry for the stars of the show: the sides. Or, try Sidewall Pizza; the Spicy Italian with sausage, peppers, and herbs pairs well with a craft brew and picnic table on the patio.
The Village of West Greenville, just a five-minute drive from downtown, is home to art galleries and hip eateries like the Anchorage. The menu is built for sharing: order a charcuterie board loaded with local goodness, and then some small plates to the tune of Muscovy duck with chanterelles and pickled blueberries.
Downtown, Jianna is a new-comer that prides itself on housemade pastas like squid ink radiatori with Carolina shrimp and Calabrian chile. Ask to sit on the terrace for a sweeping view of Main Street. After dinner, find your way to Vault & Vator, a speakeasy tucked away below street level. Inside, it’s no shots and no cell phones, but drinks like the Italian American (bourbon, cognac, amaro, and maraschino liqueur) will hold your attention.
You can easily spend an afternoon strolling Main Street with its abundance of local shops. Along the way, Falls Park offers a quick respite with its cascading waterfall and walking trails. Craving more activity? Hop on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The greenway follows an old railroad corridor along the Reedy River for some twenty miles.
Carve out time to explore Greenville’s burgeoning beer scene. A short drive lands you at Thomas Creek Brewery, which brewed Greenville’s first craft beer in 1998. Head to Birds Fly South Ale Project for farmhouse saisons and sour beers. And stop by growler bar and bottle shop the Community Tap to pick up a few brews to take home.
For digs in a central location, the Westin Poinsett offers 200 rooms in a historic setting. Housed in a 1920s-era building, the space is stately, but guestrooms are home-away-from-home comfortable.