While history is a visitor staple in the South Carolina Lowcountry, the area's foodie lure is a relatively new phenomenon. Charleston seemingly opens a new eatery every day, and nearby Summerville is also part of the growing cuisine craze.
But if you want a combination of history and good food, Summerville can hold its own with any community.
Take Eva’s on Main, known for its delicious country breakfasts, shrimp and grits, rice and gravy, collards and decadent desserts, such as triple chocolate cake and buttermilk biscuit strawberry shortcake. This Summerville institution has been dishing up delightful chow since the 1940s. Restaurant namesake “Miss Eva” passed away, but new owners have maintained much of the old menu while adding new selections and refreshing the décor.
Then there’s Oscar’s, a locally owned landmark that’s been around for 35-plus years. Upscale but casual, it specializes in traditional Southern food (including a lunch buffet), steaks, fresh seafood, desserts and more. Oscar’s also offers an extensive small plates menu at dinner. Try the Pan-Seared Chicken Oscar, a combination of chicken breast, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, crab meat, asparagus and hollandaise sauce.
Located in historic downtown Summerville, Eclectic Chef serves breakfast and lunch with outdoor dining on a cobblestone walkway. The menu features sandwiches (including vegetarian options), salads, wraps, quesadillas and paninis—and, in the spirit of the Birthplace of Sweet Tea, a tea bar featuring a variety of flavors.
Another lunchtime destination is Five Loaves Café, tucked away inside a refurbished older home and serving up brunch, lunch and dinner. With sandwiches that include vegan options, salads and more at lunch, plus daily dinner specials, such as crispy chicken breast with sweet potato, green tomato, summer squash and raisin hash, there’s something for every appetite.
Lunches are also the specialty of several other spots, including Matt’s Burgers, an old-style locals' place that’s not fancy but has amazing burgers; Off the Chain Sandwich Shoppe, a newer spot with a wide selection of menu items; and Groucho’s Deli, located on Main Street and part of a Columbia-based local chain.
Barbecue is a Lowcountry favorite, and Swig & Swine, located in Summerville’s Oakbrook area, has plenty of options. For a real old-style barbecue joint, check out Baker’s Pond & Garden, which only serves up ‘cue Thursday-Saturday but offers a unique dish: barbecue pie. Apparently the owners, who also make a delicious sweet tea pecan pie, once posted a sign reading “BBQ” and “pie,” only to be asked for “barbecue pie.” The result: a flaky pie crust filled with pulled pork, tomato sauce and cheese. Baker’s also sells sweet tea plants in its nursery.
Looking for Asian choices? Pad Thai I has limited seating for those eating in, but also offers Thai dishes for takeout. Sushi 201 will appeal to lovers of Japanese raw or cooked food.
For traditional Lowcountry seafood, check out Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar, located near Eclectic Chef with the same cobblestone walkways and, of course, delicious seafood.
Dying for Mexican food? Margarita Mexican Restaurant is located on Main Street and will fill your need.
Finally, for those who enjoy a cold beverage with their meal, check out The Icehouse, with downstairs and upstairs bars, rustic brick walls and always a line to get in; and Montreaux Bar & Grill, featuring live music nightly and what some locals say is the best shrimp and grits in town. Bar food, indeed.