I’ll tell you right here and now, my Greenville SC Restaurant picks may not be what you’ll see on other top Greenville restaurant lists, but honest to goodness, they should all be! Granted, two of my top places to grab goodies aren’t restaurants, and a couple may not be in Downtown Greenville, but they are almost all in Greenville County (full disclosure, I’m still learning the area and I’m not sure if Gio’s in Fountain Inn is Laurens County, or Greenville County, but it’s super close so we’re rolling with it).
Shining Light on My Top Greenville SC Restaurant Picks
When you read about Greenville, South Carolina, you find stories about Falls Park on the Reedy River and all it has to offer. You’ll learn about the vast amount of state parks in Greenville County, and ones two or less hours away. But what this up-and-coming treelined walkable downtown oasis is becoming known for is its culinary scene. Restaurants, bakeries, and eateries are churning out unique flavor profiles utilizing locally sourced ingredients that are attracting attention from foodies from around the world.
As for me, I like basics like burgers and tacos. What I love about my top food picks: these places take simple dishes and kick them up a notch. Or, as they say in the culinary world, they elevate simple dishes with quality, locally sourced, and fresh ingredients. However you say it, the results are the same: great f*cking food. You won’t find all that much fusion concepts on my current list, as I can’t branch too far out when traveling with my son (he’s on the picky side). However, you will find underrated Greenville-area restaurants, bakeries and sweet shops that will provide anyone a meal worthy of each price tag.
Damn Good Burgers in the Heart of Downtown
Windy City Burgers for a Freshly Ground Burgers on Homemade Brioche Buns
Burgers come in all shapes and sizes, but at Windy City Burgers they come in different types of….meats. This family-owned and operated burger joint makes their own patties out of freshly ground certified choice chuck and smoked pork belly. They even bake their own brioche buns. WHAT??!! Yes. And when the meat and buns run out, that’s a wrap for the day.
The place is small with limited seating, but the amazing staff provides great service, and they take care of everyone who walks through their door. The give all patrons a warm welcome, making them all feel at home the moment they walk in. The team answers questions about the menu and food with patience and warmth. I’ve never felt more at ease when placing my order (and I have anxiety with these types of interactions).
Whenever you have a chance, experience the friendly staff that’s serving amazing burgers and fries, and milkshakes (I recommend the Banana Pudding milkshake) right on E. Coffee Street in Downtown Greenville.
Nose Dive for a Wagyu Burger
It’s plenty busy, but I don’t think Nose Dive gets the respect it deserves! People might not think this place means business since it has a sign with a nose sniffing a burger (I think that’s what it’s doing, but maybe it’s just a nose sitting on a burger). Perhaps people are tired of the whole gastro pub trend? However, you’d be crazy not to give this place a visit when you’re traveling in Downtown Greenville.
First, the servers and runners are friendly and attentive, paying attention to customers and providing the highest level of service. Second, the food is prepared exceptionally well, and the amount of food is definitely plentiful and worth the price tag. My Wagyu Burger was large and in charge, and my son’s macaroni and cheese came out in a large bowl. An abundance of food for the price you pay, my two favorite things in a restaurant.
If you’re like our family and travel with your fur family members, you can sit outside and enjoy your meal with your furry companions as you enjoy your Nose Dive meals.
Grill Marks for a Smash Burger
Smash burgers and rather unique milkshakes are the signature items Grill Marks is known for. I have to say, the burgers are juicy as hell and the staff is friendly and attentive even during our late dinner time. From what I hear, it gets pretty busy for dinner for those who go at a normal time as well as when Peace Center is having their Broadway shows. It’s crazy close to Peace Center, fairly priced, and has great food that works before or after a great Broadway show!
I can’t speak about the milkshakes, as those are too wild for me. But they usually do themed ones, and often do specialty ones that reflect what Peace Center has going on over there…. which definitely works well!
Great Burger Deal a Short Car Ride from Downtown Greenville
Bohemian Bull (Greenville) for Great Burgers at a Great Price
Bohemian Bull might be a franchise, but the staff and food at Greenville’s location is top notch. While visiting Greenville, we went for Wednesday’s half off burgers deal. The deal is good all day, and yes, they really are half off. Our family was pleasantly surprised by how good the burgers were, and how generous the patties were!
I love when customer service is a priority, and the servers at Bohemian Bull do deliver exemplary service. When I asked our server if Strawberry lemonade was available, she said it wasn’t, offering apologies. As a nod to my request, the server placed a fresh strawberry on my glass rim and said it was the least she could do since the bar didn’t have strawberry puree to use in lemonades. Sometimes the simplest things go a long way!
Picky New Yorker’s Top Pizza Spot in Greenville
My picky eater son who lives and breathes pizza found this joint, Antonino Bertolo’s Pizza & Wine Bar to be the best in Downtown Greenville (and he ordered pizza at multiple places downtown). I have to admit, it was the closest we could find to our beloved New York pizza, and it was definitely priced well.
If you want a great deal for lunch, they offer lunch specials each day. Portions are a good size for the price tag. We got a large plain cheese pizza pie and two caesar salads with some drinks and the bill was around $30 at lunchtime without taking advantage of their lunch specials. Definitely worth it if you’re looking for some decent pizza.
Best Tacos Right on River Street
I’ll start by saying I adore small places with staff that love what they do, and walking into Papi’s Tacos I found they meet this criteria in a big way. It’s technically owned by Table 301, but it seems to be run like a family-owned business by Jorge Barrales and his jovial team. The friendly staff treats you well from the moment it’s your turn to order. They will even read off a lot of the menu and explain it to you (I know this because they did just that for my daughter who was not wearing her glasses).
After sitting down to wait to get our food, the “owner” saw our glass bottles of soda needed opening and asked politely if he could open them for us. It saved me from having to twist it off, so I said sure! We loved our guac and chips, along with our tacos. Fresh ingredients, and damn they really packed the tacos with plenty of meat and toppings, delicious. An added bonus: the staff is on top of keeping the place clean. If you want to sit outside and enjoy tacos with your fur babies, you can do that, too.
****2ND LOCATION OPENED IN SEPTEMBER 2023 @ 21 AUGUST STREET (you can get your Papi’s before heading to a game at Fluor’s. Wooohoooo.****
Gelato, Sorbet and Homemade Sweet Treats
Walking through Downtown Greenville is such a pleasure with its treelined main street and ample shade. However, it gets damn hot sometimes and after dinner, sometimes you just need a little something cold to help you cool off. During one our first nights in Greenville, we stumbled across River Street Sweets.
We went in to check it out and were pleasantly surprised to find they had gelato and sorbet available – the strawberry lemonade sorbet was a favorite for me and the kids, and we returned for more before we left South Carolina!
Italian Bakery & Market in Fountain Inn
Italians love Italian bakeries. Italians from New York love not just Italian bakeries, but Italian markets, too. When you hear about the best Italian bakery that’s about a half-an-hour from Greenville, you make the trip and find some stuff to do in the town the bakery resides in. So as a true Italian family, off we went to Fountain Inn to check out Gio’s Pastry Shop, Caffe & Italian Market!
Gio’s is family-owned and operated, with the friendliest owner and her mom serving up Italian baked goods, along with other Italian staples like fresh pasta, high quality Italian meats, and homemade sauces. In all honesty, the prices are decent and absolutely worth the trip to Fountain Inn for the Tiramisu and Italian baked treats. Make a day of it with a trip to Cedar Falls Park to work up an appetite before shooting over to Gio’s and the rest of Fountain Inn’s main street eateries.
Eat Well in Greenville and its Surrounding Areas
Knowing Greenville eateries are striving to create and bake amazing food using fresh ingredients makes it a lot easier to spend the colder months in South Carolina. Food is life, and honestly people often think finding familiar foods isn’t important when traveling or relocating (even for just half the year) isn’t something to factor into where one spends her time. I say if you don’t have access to foods you love from quality chefs it can put a total black cloud over one’s head. It sours the experience. Why do that to yourself, right?
If you plan on spending an extended length of time in one area, you’re going to want to enjoy your experience and food is a factor – plain and simple! When you love food produced by cooks and chefs who passionately cook exceptional food without insane price tags – you’ll do well at the above eateries!