Greenville went through a period of time where it was in a state of decline, to the point it was known as not being the safest area. In the 1920s, the Reedy River became the primary stream receiving sewage discharges and urban runoff from Greenville and its rapidly developing suburbs. A revitalization effort, including the development of Falls Park, which began in the 1990s, completely transformed the area, restoring its former allure and making it the centerpiece of the city.
On this trip, my 12-year-old daughter accompanied me. It was a phenomenal getaway for us, a much-needed break from everyday routines as our family experienced a tremendous loss just prior to Thanksgiving. A little travel therapy was perfect.
During our foodie trip to Greenville, South Carolina, we stayed at the Residence Inn/SpringHill Suites on East Washington Street downtown, where the preview party was held. It’s a nice hotel, and we were comfortable during our stay. We spent most of our time in the city but got a little downtime and a really good night’s sleep each evening after the day’s activities.
Opened in 2018, the hotel is newer, and we loved the fun swings in the lobby. My daughter also loved an artistic tree design behind the check-in stations and found it slightly creepy that when you walk into your room, the television automatically turns on and has a greeting with your name. I found this amusing and commented to her that this was interesting for someone who lives with all the technology unknown to my generation during our childhood. I highly recommend this hotel to anyone considering an overnight trip to Greenville.
All of its design elements were carefully curated and mostly inspired by the spirit of Greenville found in the surrounding Falls Park area. My daughter’s favorite part of the lodge is this heated egg on the porch area just outside the lobby. The warmth is calming and relaxing when the weather is cool.
I’m not sure I can select a favorite between the enormous stone fireplace in the lobby and the artistic mosaic design in the spa inspired by the Angel Oak, which is one of my favorite places in South Carolina. I love that this hotel reflects so much of the beauty of nature in our state!
After touring the lodge, we enjoyed dinner at its restaurant, Between the Trees, with an award-winning chef and dishes featuring ingredients from local agriculture and fish.
I went with our waiter’s recommendation of the bison while my daughter decided on a lighter meal. She ate from the Bohemian Hunt Board appetizer we ordered and then had some bread.
My absolute favorite from this meal was a complete surprise. On the charcuterie board, there were two types of cheese I had never tried, but immediately fell in love with. One was the Barely Buzzed cheese which is a full-bodied, cheddar-style cheese with a nutty flavor, smooth texture, and a rind developed by hand-rubbing a combination of finely ground espresso coffee beans, lavender, and vegetable oil onto the wheel, which imparts a mellow earthiness to the interior. It’s one of those flavor combinations you wouldn't think works, but once you taste it, it’s like a marriage made in heaven.
The other was Pleasant Ridge cheese, an aged, alpine-style cheese, which like the coveted, alpage versions of Beaufort and Gruyere, is made only in the summer months while the cows are grazing fresh pasture. Grass-fed milk gives it a sweetness and pairs well with the savory flavors developed by the cheese’s natural, washed rind. The resulting complexity – rich and salty, with a long, fruity finish – has made Pleasant Ridge one of the most distinctive and celebrated cheeses in the country and, in fact, the most-awarded cheese in American history. To me, it tastes like cheesecake, one of my favorite desserts, so I sure wish I would have discovered this cheese much sooner in life!
I’m a bit surprised that I have never been to a juice bar before, given that I am fairly health-conscious. (My kids would argue I’m more on the health nut side.) Here we enjoyed a sampling of nut milk and cold-pressed juices, which were delicious, and the Mama’s Jam Energy Bowl, which was amazing. It is made with cacao kale granola, blueberries, honey, almond butter, house-made almond milk, strawberries, bananas, and banana chia seed pudding. My daughter said it tasted like dessert, which is huge as she, like most kids, turns her nose up at some of my healthy food attempts and friendly discussions or suggestions.
Southern Pressed Juicery offers lots of other options on its menu, including smoothies, sweets, snacks, and superfood lattes. You can also participate in one of its juice cleanse programs, something I would love to start the next time I visit Greenville!
Our second stop on this tour was Biscuit Head, a popular breakfast and lunch spot featuring melt-in-your-mouth biscuits of all types and a bar with 12 varieties of jams and flavored butter. We had the Greenvillian which is a fried pork chop biscuit with bacon gravy and a fried egg. I tried the strawberry and chili mango jams as well as the cinnamon butter, which were all so good. I enjoyed the biscuit, too, and had some coffee with it.
Our final stop on the food tour was Papi’s Tacos, where we had an amazing, flavorful breakfast taco, which was my daughter’s favorite from the food tour! This item is not on the regular menu, but you can enjoy it as a part of John’s food tour. We loved the fun, colorful atmosphere, and our waitress was enthusiastic and friendly.
I highly recommend this food tour. It fulfilled a bucket list item for my daughter and me. It’s something we have always wanted to do but hadn’t gotten around to yet. Be sure to go on a completely empty stomach so you can fully savor the experience.
John also offers history tours if you’d rather learn about Greenville’s rich past.
I asked him if he ever offers any seasonal tours, and he shared with me that he has considered fall leaf tours. So be on the lookout for that option if it’s something that would interest you, and be sure to let him know you heard about him from OnlyInYourState!
I’m always on the lookout for something different when I begin perusing a menu, so right away, I noticed the boiled peanut hummus appetizer — it was a winner.
For my entree selection, I wanted something on the lighter side and chose the Vegetable Plate, which features roasted carrots, haricot verts, duck fat potatoes, crispy brussel sprouts, wilted greens, roasted tomatoes, and seasonal vegetables. It was well-seasoned and tasted wonderful. My daughter got the West Coast Classic Burger with Fries, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
We happened to be visiting during the holiday season, so the place was decked out with the most fun Christmas decorations as a
Miracle Pop-Up Bar location. Even though a brewery, it is very family-friendly with a full restaurant menu and seating spaces, including a nice outdoor patio area, partially covered. I had a difficult time choosing between the Lemon Chicken Wrap and Turkey and Whipped Feta, but ultimately went with the latter. My daughter decided on the Chicken Tender Basket from the kids' menu. We enjoyed our meal in the outside space and a little downtime on the sectional. She’s always got a book with her, and I got a few things done on my laptop that I had been unable to do thus far during our trip.
I had a burger, and she had macaroni and cheese, another of her favorite dishes. Both came with a generous portion of fries. Our waitress here was really sweet and friendly, and we enjoyed very much talking with her for a bit. When we told her we were unfortunately too full for dessert, she suggested we get it to-go, which we decided was a great idea. We took Chocolate Ganache Cake with Peanut Butter Ice Cream back to our room with us and thoroughly enjoyed it later during our stay.
Sully was working, and we enjoyed meeting and speaking with him and Shawna, who also works there. She recommended the California Steamin’ bagel, which I knew was a good option for me after reviewing it on the menu. You get to select which type of bagel your sandwich is made with, and I chose the Asiago cheese. My daughter decided on the Meat Chimney on an Everything bagel. We both found them to be so delicious! We were excited to learn that Sully’s Steamers is currently expanding, with additional locations that will be opening in Lexington and then Irmo, with plans in the future potentially for Charleston as well. Other locations in South Carolina open now include Clemson, Mauldin, Simpsonville, and Spartanburg. Stop in if you’re ever in one of these areas for breakfast, lunch, or dinner Monday through Saturday or for breakfast or lunch on Sunday.
Of course, a foodie trip to Greenville, South Carolina isn't all about the food. There were a few shops we popped into to check out during our Greenville trip, too. The first, M. Judson Booksellers, was for my daughter, who is the biggest bookworm if you ever saw one!
She is currently into the “Keeper of the Lost Cities” series, so she was happy to find one to add to her collection. M. Judson Booksellers is a specialty bookstore with a unique atmosphere housed in the historic, iconic former Greenville County courthouse building. It sells other unique gift-type items in addition to books and has a cafe inside called Camilla Kitchen. There are handwritten staff recommendations and customer favorite book reviews posted with select books throughout, and there are comfy chairs you can sink into if you’d like to read a little before making your decision on which book to buy. We could have spent much more time here, and I am sure we will return on our next Greenville trip.
It offers an impressive selection of imported olive oil and vinegar, local grapeseed oils, easy-to-use herb and spice mixes, open-and-serve hors d'oeuvres, and much more. My husband is a Johnson and Wales Culinary Arts program alumnus, and we used to operate a food blog. I enjoyed meeting the owners of this store and learning that Veera also has a history at Johnson and Wales and has a food blog. The store offers tasting opportunities, and I got to taste a popular fresh oil and vinegar mixture. It was delicious. I bought a gift for my husband that he was happy to receive, and this is another store we want to return to one day.
The box will also include a movie-themed game, so this will be the perfect addition! I decided on two types of popcorn to include: Tuxedo Chocolate and Merry Grinchmas Grinch Corn. It’s fun looking at all of the options and would be great for team meeting snacks, a sleepover, or a family movie night, too!
Now it’s Greenville’s old-timey downtown emporium featuring a unique mix of clothing, outdoor gear, and more that make the perfect gifts. The back corner of the store is full of all types of candies, including some older varieties you may not even recognize! This is where my daughter spent most of her time, picking some treats out for herself and her friends. I picked up a couple of little items for myself, too.
We also took to the ice at the United Community Bank Ice on Main rink, which is an open outdoor ice skating rink in the heart of downtown Greenville. There had been a hard rain early that morning, so the rink was wet in places. It wasn’t crowded, perhaps partially because of this, which may have been best for us very inexperienced ice skaters! I love the outdoor setting and being able to get some fresh air while skating.
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