It’s no surprise the oldest known eatery in South Carolina is located in Historic Charleston. This restaurant has been continuously serving for close to 90 years, since before there was a Dock Street Theatre, local television stations or a Spoleto Festival. Of course, the business has changed hands and undergone more than one renovation over the decades. Still, its focus on delicious Lowcountry dishes and fresh seafood keep it a bustling presence on the corner of North Market Street.
Notable: Check out the cool rooftop patio, dance lounge and upscale jazz bar.
Tucked inside a Main Street pharmacy, the Cut Rate serves up lots of nostalgia. There’s always coffee in the pot at this local institution as well as friendly conversation and smiling faces. Opened during a time when drugstore soda fountains were all the rage, this jewel has been a gathering place for generations of Sumter families. Sit down in a booth or at the counter (in place since the 1960s) for a hot Southern breakfast or a hot meat-and-three lunch.
Notable: Cut Rate’s chicken salad is famous in these parts as are the old-fashioned milk shakes.
It’s almost as famous as Myrtle Beach, itself: Peaches Corner has been beckoning sun-kissed noshers through its breezy doors for a looong time. When it fired up the grill back in 1937, hot dogs were 15 cents, or two for a quarter. You can bet the 10 cent cups of beer were a draw, too. If you’re looking for peach pie, though, you’re out of luck. The name does not refer to South Carolina’s favorite fruit, but to the Peaches family who originally owned the business. You can enjoy a peach ice cream or slushie, though.
Notable: Still can’t beat the 99-cent coffee to kick-start a day on the beach.
This landmark Italian restaurant is as much about family as it is about US and local history. It was a tenuous time in the nation when World War I medic, James Tronco, happened into a downtown Columbia fruit store. There, he met the proprietor’s daughter, Sadie Carnaggio, whom he later married. Four babies later and with another war on the horizon, the couple opened their own fruit market on Main Street, where Sadie (aka Mama Tronco) eventually was moved to prepare spaghetti dinners for homesick World War II soldiers of Italian descent stationed at Fort Jackson. When fire destroyed the operation, the family moved their business to Blanding Street in 1940 and reopened it as a dedicated restaurant. Villa Tronco is still located in the historic former firehouse on Blanding, where the descendants of Mama Sadie continue to serve her recipes in a nostalgic Old World setting.
Notable: Villa Tronco introduced pizza to the Columbia area and it’s still made authentically with a hand-rolled crust and served cut into squares.
Fanciful dreams morphed into tasty reality when Harold Miller, who created recipes in his head during his formative years in a Philly orphanage, opened this beloved sandwich shop. A colorful character, Miller’s mustache, cigar and witty demeanor reminded folks of the legendary Groucho Marx, thus earning him the moniker “Groucho.” Famous for juicy subs called “Dippers” and a tangy Formula 45 Sauce in which to dip them, Groucho’s is an icon not only in Columbia, but across the state since franchising in 2000. The original Five Points deli has a distinct nostalgic feel with its optional counter seating and vintage placards.
Notable: Go ahead and order extra Formula 45 Sauce with your Dipper – this stuff is so addictive you can’t stop dipping.