Greenville is known for its burgeoning dining scene and flourishing farm-to-table movement. It is also home to the vibrant Euphoria food festival, an event that draws the foodie crowd and puts the city squarely on the map of worthy culinary destinations. Beneath all that energy lies a thread of local flavor—foods that have found strong enough favor among Greenvillians to become menu icons.
Before a food can be considered iconic, it should be distinguished by both staying power and a solid, unwavering fan base. While these locally favored eats are sometimes the stuff of fine dining, more often than not, they are down-home and simple, offered up in establishments with a long history of serving the Greenville community. If you want to truly eat like the locals eat, you’ll get a good start at these 10 establishments.
Iconic dish: Pan-seared trout This charming downtown eatery, on the banks of the picturesque Reedy River, is known for serving classic bistro fare with a French touch. While you can’t get a bad dish at Passerelle, the pan-seared mountain trout has garnered a massive, well-established fan base. Join the crowd.
Duke Sandwich Company
Iconic dish: Homestyle sandwiches A little more than a century ago, Eugenia Duke (whose recipe for Duke’s Mayonnaise made it the South’s favorite condiment) sold sandwiches to the hungry of downtown Greenville. In the spirit of her enterprise, Duke Sandwich Company proudly carries on the tradition, serving up homestyle sandwiches using Duke’s most popular spreads, like pimento cheese, chicken salad, ham, pepper and onion, and egg salad. Though not affiliated with the mayo operation, this beloved little sandwich shop makes and packages sandwiches like your mama put in your lunchbox. Grab them ready-made or enjoy one prepared to order.
Iconic dish: Chili Cheeseburger Half & Half The name of this combo is unusual but the formula isn’t complicated: Homemade chili over an all-beef patty cheeseburger served with the dynamic duo of fries and Clock Drive-in's famous double-dipped onion rings. The Clock has been doing it the same way since the 1950s, which makes this burger combo one local folks can depend upon—and they do.
Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Bakery
Iconic dish: Stecca bread Swamp Rabbit Cafe is known as a hub for all kinds of good eats, but the wildly popular stecca bread is, hands-down, its most iconic offering. Its crusty exterior, tender interior infused with salty, yeasty vibes turns sandwiches and pizzas into something extraordinary. Of course, lots of folks love to eat it straight, pulling off chunks of warm, freshly baked bread to dip in olive oil or eat as-is. Get it early as loaves routinely go "poof" before the day's end.
Brick Street Cafe
Iconic dish: Sweet Potato Cake This upbeat outpost of live music and casual eats is known for its decadent cakes. Of those, Brick Street Cafe's Sweet Potato Cake has overwhelmingly won the hearts and palates of diners. Moist, spiced just right and slicked with cream cheese icing, it’s everything your sweet tooth ever dreamed of.
Iconic dish: Fried chicken Crispy, moist, perfectly seasoned fried chicken is the signature dish at both of OJ’s family-run diners. Lovingly made from a secret recipe, this is the fried bird of choice for local lovers of home cooking. The mac-and-cheese and collards make worthy companions.
Iconic dish: Sweet Potato Crunch Longtime sweetheart of the pit-cooked pulled pork crowd, Bucky’s BBQ is a barbecue institution in Greenville. While the smoked meats get plenty of attention, diners can’t get enough of the Sweet Potato Crunch—a satisfying, savory-sweet baked casserole featuring South Carolina’s favorite root tuber with a crunchy, nutty topping.
Soby's New South Cuisine
Iconic dish: White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie Go for the on-point Southern comfort foods, but stay for the dessert. In this case, it’s Soby’s signature White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, the hottest sweet on the menu. Accolades for this cookie-crust pie, filled with house-made custard and fresh bananas, never cease. Add your voice to the masses.
Poppington's Gourmet Popcorn
Iconic dish: Greenville Mint Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Not a restaurant, but a major player on the foodie scene, nevertheless, Poppington’s brings the nostalgic smells and tastes of popcorn to downtown Greenville, along with some super surprising twists. The signature Greenville Mint Chocolate Caramel Popcorn flies off the shelf faster than you can say "Poppington's popped a peck of pickle popcorn" (another great flavor, by the way). Order online or visit the charming little shop for your share.