Just this side of the NC/SC line on I-95 is the town of Dillon. Established in 1888, its agricultural roots drove the city’s early economy, especially after the Atlantic Coast Line built a railroad there. This allowed local cotton and tobacco farmers to enjoy a broader market for their products, and the little town began to hum.
These days, Dillon is better known for its proximity to the campy tourist stop South of the Border. But if you hop off I-95 and head into the historic town, you’ll find that, while small, Dillon is not only brimming with a lot of interesting architecture but there’s plenty of good eating to be had, too.
If you’re passing through and the hunger bug strikes, plan to stop for a while, satisfy your hunger with a tasty lunch and see some of the landmarks that hearken back to the town’s early days.
Here are four restaurants where you can get your fill of everything from burgers hot off the grill to a fried chicken dinner with all the fixings.
Southern Fried Restaurant and Catering Home cooking is the draw at this cafe, where folks show up each day for rib-sticking sustenance. During lunch, a traditional Southern buffet is laid out with a rotation of steaming comfort foods that may include fried chicken, pork chops, stew beef, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, speckled butter beans, black-eyed peas, fatback, biscuits, cornbread, peach cobbler and other favorites. Pile up a plate, order a sweet tea and dig in.
Breaking Bread Stop in weekdays for soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches and burgers that will make an impression on the palate. The mac and cheese with brisket is always in demand, as is the BLT salad. Sink your teeth into a cheesesteak sandwich with shaved ribeye, peppers, onions and cheese sauce. Freshly made tuna and chicken salads make a nice light option.
B&C Steak & BBQ Fried chicken and barbecue are winners here. Hit the buffet for a daily array of freshly made favorites like fried okra, field peas, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, a nicely stocked salad bar, cobblers and more. The Southern hospitality is a bonus.
Papa Tom’s Drive-in Calling all lovers of chicken livers and gizzards! Get your fill at this local landmark that has been serving the Dillon community since 1987. The hamburger steak with onions and gravy, shrimp and oyster boxes, hot dogs and hamburgers (get one all-the-way with slaw) have a loyal following, too. Drive up, place your order at the window and take an outdoor table or grab a seat in the small indoor dining area.
Other things to see and do:
Dillon County Courthouse 301 W. Main Street Built in 1911, the Dillon County Courthouse is a fine example of Beaux Arts style and is on the National Register of Historic Places. With its Neoclassical stone and masonry structure, it is one of nine such buildings designed by renowned 20th-century architect William Augustus Edwards.
Dillon County Theater 114 N MacArthur Avenue The Dillon County Theater, on the National Register of Historic Places, is home to the MacArthur Avenue Players. It is one of the few remaining examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in South Carolina.
Dillon Station 100 N Railroad Avenue The red brick depot was established by the Atlantic Coast Line in 1905. Renovations included the addition of a brick platform, a clock inscribed with the town's name and a garden.
Main Street United Methodist Church 401 E. Main Street This Gothic Revival church was founded in 1892, but is the third house of worship for the congregation. It was designed by Charlotte architect Oliver D. Wheeler and completed in 1916.
Dillon Downtown Historic District Walk or drive through the historic district and see various commercial properties with ornamental elements dating back to the turn of the 20th century.