Foxcroft Wine Co.

Foxcroft Wine Co. is just what Greenville’s been missing.  Essentially, it’s a wine bar with refined gastropub style food in a laid-back, yet trendy setting.  Foxcroft Wine Co. is the kind of place you’ll find yourself at time and time again. Because really…who doesn’t love good food paired with an excellent glass of wine?

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Whether you want to pick up a bottle, enjoy a glass of wine with one of their small plates or sit, sip and stay awhile for a full meal, Foxcroft Wine is an ideal spot.  This quote from general manager Eric Heidal sums up what Foxcroft Wine Co. is all about: “Being a retail wine shop as well as a wine bar and restaurant uniquely positions us to provide exceptional value to our customers. The great benefit for our dine in customers is the ability to purchase wine at a minimal retail markup as opposed to a much higher restaurant markup of 200-300%. The only rule we do have is a corkage fee of $10 for wine bottles under $29.99 purchased for consumption on-site.” As you know, my expertise isn’t in the realm of wine, but I am beyond excited to share my adoration of the food at Foxcroft Wine. I’ll leave the wine pairings to the experts….

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Foxcroft Wine Co.’s menu features starters, flatbreads, signature dishes and sweets that focus on using local farmers to provide fresh, seasonal food.  Their House-Made Ricotta with lemon, herbs, pepper, olive oil and crostini is a light, pleasant start to your meal, but my favorite starters have to be the Truffle Fries and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts.

I first had these brussels sprouts at the Foxcroft Wine in Charlotte where my sister immediately declared them her favorite thing on the entire menu.  You really can’t go wrong with caramelized brussels sprouts tossed with butternut squash and cashews, then drizzled with a chili-soy glaze. The irresistible sweet/tangy/salty flavors of this dish make it a huge crowd-pleaser, so I’d encourage you to order more than one.

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There’s something so undeniably delectable about Truffle Fries.  Even if you go into a meal with the intentions of eating somewhat healthy, it’s really difficult to say no to crispy fries drizzled in truffle oil and topped with a mountain of shaved parmesan.  Serve them with a side of aioli and you’re really done for. Foxcroft’s truffle fries have the perfect ratio of fry to cheese to truffle, making them truly irresistible.

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Foxcroft Wine’s signature dishes are the best of the best.  Be sure to look back at my Bite of the Week where I featured their burger (which just may be my favorite burger in the Upstate at this time).  It’s truly a superior burger. In the mood for something a bit more refined? Their Pan-Seared Scallops served over Anson Mills farro, confit lemon, garlic and cherry tomatoes may be on the lighter side, but the flavor is anything but.

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If you enjoy lamb, I highly suggest ordering the Lamb Sliders.  Foxcroft creates these flavor-packed sliders with ground lamb that’s so perfectly tender it melts in your mouth, and tops it with harissa, cucumber and chevre.  The cool crunch of the cucumber rounds out the savory components of this scrumptious bite.

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When it comes to dessert, there’s only one way to go.  And that’s with Foxcroft’s house-made “Famous Doughnuts” severed with chocolate and salted caramel dipping sauces.  First decision…cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar? After that, choose the dipping sauce of your pleasure and prepare for utter decadence.  I could eat the caramel dipping sauce with a spoon.

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While Foxcroft Wine Co. started as primarily a wine bar and retail shop, it has developed over time into a gathering spot for families, business professionals, wine-os and foodies alike.  So, as if you needed another reason to treat yourself to great wine and delicious food, now you have a pretty convincing one. Foxcroft Wine Co. is located at 631 S. Main Street. Their retail shop is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-11pm and Sunday from 5pm-11pm and their kitchen is open Tuesday-Sunday from 5pm-10:30pm.

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Best Bites of euphoria 2018

And another year of euphoria has come to an end. This four-day food and wine festival highlights the talent of local, regional and nationally acclaimed chefs.  As I reflect back on all the many bites from the weekend, there are a few that deserve a little extra recognition. So, here they are…my favorite bites from each event.

Taste of the South: My first and last bite of this event consisted of a Nashville Hot Chicken Eggroll with a Dill Pickle Aioli from Terra restaurant in Columbia, SC. When I think eggroll, my mind immediately thinks Chinese. As delicious as your standard eggroll may be, Chef Mike Davis stepped up to the plate and delivered an exceptional version with a spicy kick, super crispy exterior and cool, tangy dipping sauce to finish it off.

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Power Picnic: After a killer workout by Burn Bootcamp Greenville, we were served a beautiful picnic style meal of healthy eats from around the Upstate. Much to my surprise, the Gazpacho from White Duck Taco Shop was my favorite bite of the meal. My usual assumption of Gazpacho is a cold soup lacking texture and tasting of nothing but tomato. That wasn’t the case here. This Gazpacho has a flavorful broth mixed with bites of sweet apple, crunchy cucumber and more.

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Feast by the Field: This bite was a clear winner for me. After finishing this sinfully delicious taste, I immediately wanted more. I’m talking about the Smoked Gouda and Brisket Grilled Cheese from Orchid Paulmeier with SERG Group in Hilton Head, SC. Obviously you can’t go wrong with smoked gouda and brisket grilled between two buttery pieces of bread, but top that with a pickled grape and prepare to be mind-blown. The sweet, tangy grape with savory, salty, cheesy goodness was almost too good to be true.

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Sunday Brunch: BBQ, cocktails, and all your brunch favorites…this event featured SO many amazing chefs that the decision of “best-bite” was a tough one. It was a close call between the outstanding Pulled Pork and Green Beans from Buxton Hall BBQ (seriously…. go to Asheville just to try those Green Beans), or the Pulled Pork Stuffed French Toast from Bone-In Barbeque in Columbia, SC. At the end of the day, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the perfectly crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside French toast stuffed with tender pulled pork and topped with a drizzle of maple syrup. This is one of those bites you just don’t forget!

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Thank YOU, euphoria, for the title of “euphoria Insider” and for another amazing weekend of food, wine and fun! Can I just say…is it September 2019 yet?!

A Vegan Story: Farm Fresh Fast & Sun Belly Cafe

Let’s talk about this vegan movement that’s taking over not only our Instagrams, but also the Upstate. Nutritionists, fitness gurus and restaurateurs are adapting this trend and making it look pretty easy…and appetizing. No longer are we drooling over double cheeseburgers oozing with cheese (well, we may still do that) but rather veggie burgers, colorful bowls and vegan treats are claiming the title as drool-worthy pics.

Two restaurants in Greenville recently made me consider my meat-eating ways with their creative and satisfying vegetarian options. Farm Fresh Fast welcomes the vegan community with the addition of a completely vegan menu that offers dishes such as applewood-smoked jackfruit with house-made peach bbq sauce and “meatlessballs” with blistered peppers, grits and an agave sriracha drizzle.

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What I Ate: Ancient Grain Bowl and Vegan Donuts

The Ancient Grain Bowl starts with a base of farro, and then adds onions, peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, chickpeas, green beans and an irresistible “farm fusion” sauce. Add your choice of No-Evil chicken, tofu or apple-smoked jackfruit and dig in. Nothing about this dish screams “vegan”, but instead delivers a satisfying dish that simply makes you feel good.

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Yes, these are 100% vegan donuts that are packed with protein and no artificial sweetener. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, lucky for us Farm Fresh Fast keeps upping their donut game (complete with their own Instagram account) with flavors like peach cobbler, Salty Kong (banana bread with salted caramel drizzle) and chocolate with vanilla drizzle. Oh and an added bonus…they are also gluten-free.

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Then there’s Sun Belly Café where owner, Deborah White, took her love of cooking and philosophy of “wellness” and created something truly special. At Sun Belly Café the menu is ever changing, but always offers vegan/vegetarian friendly dishes such as Zucchini Pasta with homemade vegan pesto, Mock Chicken Salad with chickpeas, vegan mayo, carrot, celery, peppers and seasonings, and desserts that you truly can’t believe are healthy.

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What I Ate: Summer Rolls, Vegan Burger of the Day (Chickpea/Hummus) over a Kale Salad and alllllll the desserts

These Summer Rolls packed with seasonal vegetables, tofu and basil and served with a Thai peanut sauce are the absolute perfect way to start a meal. I asked for extra peanut sauce because every bite deserves plenty of this irresistible sauce.

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I’m always a fan of a veggie burger, but too often I find myself missing the heartiness of a true beef patty. You don’t have to worry about that here. It’s going to be difficult for me to ever order anything different from Sun Belly Café. The burger itself is so flavorful and doesn’t fall apart when you bite into it. Add the fresh veggies and amazing kale salad and you simply can’t go wrong. What’s even better? It kept me full and satisfied for hours!

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But seriously, these desserts stole the show. From front to back we’ve got the Belly Bar (packed with dried fruits and nuts), Freckles (chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, almond butter and oats with chocolate chips), Spiced Chocolate (cacao, carob, tahini, seeds and fruits with chili pepper flakes and sea salt), Truffles (walnuts, dates and cacao rolled in sesame seeds) and quite possibly my favorite bite of the meal, the dessert special that day, which I unfortunately can’t remember the name, but tastes like the more decadent relative of a Reeses Cup.

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Needless to say, I’ve only just scraped the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants in and around the Upstate, but if all the others even come close to Farm Fresh Fast or Sun Belly Café, I’d say we’re doing pretty good. Let me know your favorites in Greenville and I’ll check them out!

The Lazy Goat Welcomes Chef Wilberto Sauceda

It was almost a year ago today that I first tasted Chef Wilberto Sauceda’s food. Since then, he has created a name for himself as an imaginative, passionate and talented chef who esteems high quality ingredients and ingenuity. Wilberto has recently taken over as Executive Chef of the beloved Lazy Goat restaurant by Table 301 and I couldn’t be more excited.

When Chef Wilberto walks through the doors, you know he’s going to shake things up, in the best way. While Lazy Goat will hold firm to their staples such as fried goat cheese balls, crispy brussels sprouts and paella, Wilberto is working diligently to create some innovative dishes that will undoubtedly elevate the menu. So, when we were asked to come try some of these dishes, we happily obliged.

This sashimi trio is about as close to one of Chef Wilberto’s signature dishes as you can get: almost too gorgeous to eat, delicately constructed and extremely refreshing. The dish consists of Hamachi from Japan with Peruvian citrus, blue fin tuna with harissa and lemon juice, and snapper with orange juice, citrus and fresno peppers. As I worked my way around this dish, the flavors kept building and changing, making me want more and more.

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Next up, a buttery scallop served over Freekeh grains, tomato, okra, and asparagus topped with basil pesto. Sounds simple, and it is, but that little bit of basil pesto goes a long way in providing that oomph of flavor needed to balance this dish. And when the scallop is one of the best you’ve ever had…it’s hard not to swoon.

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Another standout dish from Chef Wilberto is his infamous Loup de Mer (Mediterranean Seabass). This dish starts with a chipotle cream sauce, topped with braised greens and pan seared loup de mer, then finished with a lemon beurre blanc sauce and toasted pistachios. Usually you see braised greens with something southern such as fried chicken for instance, but somehow all these contrasting elements work together in perfect harmony.

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From sea to land, we welcome the pan seared marinated wagyu steak topped with a salad of frisee dressed in a cardamom vinaigrette, pepper relish, fried ginger and pickled cauliflower. Leave it to Chef Wilberto to take something typically extremely hearty like steak and transform it into a sophisticated dish that is unlike any you’ve tried before.

Saving the most comforting dish for last, we ended on a lamb chop served with couscous tossed in shallot, kale and white wine butter and finished with a pickled oyster and anglaise. As if that wouldn’t be enough, these components were served atop a fresno aioli with a smoky, spiciness that made this dish stand as more than just your average, well-executed lamb chop.

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It wouldn’t be a tasting menu by Wilberto without a whimsical dessert. Allow me to introduce the Lazy Trio: Foie Gras Lollipop with blueberry pop rock, Orange Pannacotta and a homemade Chocolate Iced Donut with Sprinkles.

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Be on the lookout over the next couple of weeks for some additions to The Lazy Goat’s menu such as Wagyu Steak, U10 Scallops, Burrata Salad, Agnolotti, and of course…Loup De Mer. With The Lazy Goat’s loyal following, and Chef Wilberto’s background in Mediterranean cuisine, it’s sure to be a match made in heaven.

Monkey Wrench Smokehouse

No, it’s not a hardware store. Just the latest fun adventure from Sidewall Pizza and Rocket Surgery owners Andy O’Mara and Loren Frant. Monkey Wrench Smokehouse offers BBQ smoked right on the back porch, delicious sides with a creative spin as well as homemade desserts. Set right along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, I can imagine Monkey Wrench as a dining destination for families, tourists and pretty much anyone who loves simple, great food in a casual atmosphere.

Feel free to start your meal with one of their barrel aged cocktails or a beer from their impressive craft beer list. Then, venture on to their starters and order some signature Smoked Belly Corn Dogs or Bacon Fried Hoe Cakes. Being the seafood lover that I am, we ordered the Smoked Salmon Dip served with grilled baguette. Monkey Wrench grills their bread on a wood-fired grill, giving it a smoky, charred flavor that complements the creamy salmon dip with fresh dill perfectly.

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When I saw that Monkey Wrench serves their House Hot Link Sausage Dog in a toasted King’s Hawaiian roll, I was sold. Rarely would you say “I’m making gourmet hot dogs for dinner tonight.” Which is exactly why you MUST order this one and let Monkey Wrench do the work for you. Topped with mustard and hot cherry peppers, this “fancy” dog is delicious. But really…can anything taste bad inside a King’s Hawaiian roll??

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If you want to try a little of everything, The Smokehouse is calling your name. A sampling of pulled pork, brisket, half rack of ribs, wings, sausage with three sides, cornbread and house pickled veggies, it’s not for the faint of heart. As you taste the array of meats, don’t forget one of their homemade sauces ranging from a sweet and spicy Cheerwine flavor to a mustard-based Carolina sauce. The ribs though don’t need a single bit of sauce added to them and are the definition of finger lickin’ goodness. The smoked chicken wings impressed me the most with their extra crispy skin and tender, smoky meat.

What goes hand in hand with BBQ? Equally tasty sides of course. Their cornbread is more like a corn cake with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and hint of sweetness. It’s not your average dry, lackluster cornbread. A nuance to BBQ sides, Cauliflower Casserole, stands out among the rest. While of course the Mac & Cheese is a crowd-pleaser (and Monkey Wrench’s comes with an irresistible crunchy topping) something about the creamy, caramelized cauliflower casserole stole the show.

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As with Rocket Surgery and Sidewall Pizza, you can’t leave without ordering dessert. The Caramel Apple Cobbler is decadent to say the least. It comes to the table in a blazing hot skillet with a browned, slightly crispy edge and gooey center with cooked apples and caramel. The scoop of Sidewall vanilla ice cream is truly the cherry on top. When I think BBQ my mind goes directly to banana pudding. Monkey Wrench serves theirs in a wine glass layered with pudding, bananas, whipped cream and vanilla wafers. Even though you maybe shouldn’t eat toooo much of it, it’s easy to devour their rendition of a timeless dessert.

Monkey Wrench is located at 21 South Main Street in Travelers Rest, SC. They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 5:00 – 9:00pm.

Word to Mouth

“I’m too busy.” It’s a phrase we’ve become all too familiar with, especially when it comes to cooking and eating healthy. Greenville business owners have picked up on this trend and are starting companies that bridge the gap between our hectic lives and eating food that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Word to Mouth, a paleo meal-prep service, is just one of those companies…and also happens to be my favorite.

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Owner, Alissa Shealy, started Word to Mouth after mastering her own Sunday meal-prep and later being asked time and time again by friends and family to cook for them. Word to Mouth started in Alissa’s kitchen with only a few customers, and has now grown into a thriving business, not primarily from advertising, but by “word of mouth”. Nowadays, Word to Mouth operates out of Imagine Kitchen every Monday cooking a plethora of dishes for both longstanding and new customers.

Word to Mouth’s weekly menu of 4 recipes operates on a Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer rotation, ensuring that even if you ordered every single week, you would only eat the same thing twice! The recipes vary from gluttonous dishes made nutritious like Buffalo Chicken Casserole and Shepherd’s Pie, breakfast items like Pancakes with Egg Bake, original dishes like a Bahn-Mi Bowl and hearty salads.

From the 4 recipes, you can choose 6 meals, 9 meals or 12 meals, selecting which sound best to you. No matter what the menu item, you can rest easy knowing that your meal is gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and consists of organic ingredients whenever possible. Plus, did I mention that the meal is 100% cooked for you? All you need to do is heat it up! It doesn’t get much easier than that.

After spending one Monday with the lovely ladies from Word to Mouth, I took home all four of the menu items to taste-test and share with all of you. Here’s the verdict!

Chicken and Veggie Breakfast Bowl: This is one of those original dishes mentioned earlier. The bowl starts with a base of sautéed asparagus, shredded brussels sprouts, and kale tossed with a lemony dressing and topped with ground chicken, sliced avocado, a soft-boiled egg and sunflower seeds. I would’ve never thought to put all these ingredients together, but somehow it all makes perfect sense once you try it.

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Acorn Squash with Turkey Stuffing: Reminiscent of Thanksgiving flavors, this dish is not only stunning, but also hearty and satisfying. The tender acorn squash is filled with a generous serving of ground turkey, celery, cranberries and apples that’s been sautéed with maple syrup and thyme. Stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving staple, and Word to Mouth’s rendition meets all the marks…plus it’s good for you!

Sweet Potato Enchiladas: Here, Word to Mouth takes a popular Mexican dish and transforms it into a nourishing meal, without skimping on ANY of the enchilada flavors we all love. Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes are cooked until fork-tender and filled with a mixture of ground beef, kale (Word to Mouth knows how to sneak in those greens), Mexican spices and a homemade enchilada sauce. A crowd-pleaser for sure, I can’t imagine anyone not devouring this irresistible dish.

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Pork Tenderloin with German Slaw: If you’ve never tasted German slaw, you’re missing out. It all starts with purple cabbage that is cooked down in apple cider vinegar, and then mixed with green apple and rosemary salt giving it a slightly tangy flavor. The pork tenderloin is grilled to perfection and tastes incredible with a forkful of the German slaw.

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Word to Mouth’s mission is simple: to make our lives a little easier with healthy, real food. To subscribe to Word to Mouth’s weekly email, or place an order for food, be sure to check out their website and follow them on Instagram!

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Trattoria Giorgio

Upon stepping into Trattoria Giorgio, you are transported to a charming, family-run restaurant in Italy where the food warms your heart and soul. Since opening in 1996, Trattoria Giorgio has become an institution for authentic Italian food in Greenville. Chef Giorgio Todisco’s dishes showcase his culinary journey around the world with its humble beginning in the kitchen alongside his mother and grandmother in Bergamo, Italy.

Trattoria Giorgio is a hidden gem. While there are many other Italian restaurants in the Greenville area, Trattoria Giorgio is now my #1 recommendation with authentic, quality Italian food similar to what you’ll find in New York, or even Italy. Chef Giorgio is committed to using the finest meats available, as well as hand-picked Italian ingredients.

Their menu is the ideal size. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll find that I always comment on the menu size because, let’s be honest, a HUGE menu means less quality dishes. Trattoria Giorgio offers a few antipasti such as mussels & clams, larger entrees like Veal Scallopine, and a few desserts. The first bite I took was a hunk of their fresh-baked bread dipped in olive oil and I was hooked. We all knew we were in for one incredible meal if even the free bread was this fantastic.

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We tried our best not to indulge too much in the bread though, because there was much more eating to be done. We started with the Mozarella Caprese, Ravioli Alla Argosta (Lobster Ravioli), and Insalatona (mixed greens salad). Offering a rich dish like lobster ravioli as an appetizer is a genius idea. There was just enough decadence to this dish to keep you wanting more, without ruining the rest of your dinner.

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Both of the salads are understated, yet delicious with subtle flavors that make all the difference. The slices of fresh mozzarella on the caprese salad were unlike any I’ve had before, with a level of creaminess that is impressive.

Bread, pasta, bread, pasta, carbs…that’s how this night seemed to be going, but I was totally okay with it. Next up we ordered the notorious Pappardelle Bolognese, Linguini Verde Mari and the perfectly cooked Filet special. Usually I am 100% a red sauce pasta girl, but the Linguini Verde Mari was the star of the show this evening and is a dish I’ve craved every day since. Consisting of linguine pasta tossed with large shrimp sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, white wine and a fresh basil sauce, I must’ve said 10 times “This is really my last bite.”

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My usual order at any Italian restaurant are classics like Bolognese and lasagna, so it’s no surprise that Trattoria Giorgio’s Pappardelle Bolognese made me very happy. Their homemade meat sauce clings to the thick, al dente pappardelle creating a perfect bite every time. If you’re craving comfort food, this is the dish for you.

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Being the avid dessert fan that I am, I’m ashamed to say I had never had a cannoli until dining at Trattoria Giorgio. Now, I’m already thinking about when I can get my hands on another one. This cannoli is super crunchy on the outside and filled with a thick and creamy vanilla frosting with chocolate chips all throughout. Because we couldn’t decide on just one, we also ordered the Mousse al Ciccolatto (Chocolate Mousse). Sinfully decadent, this dessert is for all you chocolate lovers out there.

With a location in the heart of downtown Greenville, Italian food that simply can’t be beat, and a “sit down and stay awhile” kind of atmosphere, Trattoria Giorgio is pretty special. They are located at 121 S. Main Street and are open Tuesday – Saturday from 6pm to 9:30pm.

The Upstate Foodie’s 11 Favorite Restaurants of 2017

The first question I’m asked after telling people that I have a foodie Instagram and blog is “Where are your favorite places to eat in Greenville?” I realized that I’ve practically memorized this list and it hasn’t changed much over the past year. So, here it is. My 11 favorite restaurants in the Upstate (because I couldn’t just choose 10), in no particular order, determined solely by the frequency I recommend them to others and eat at them myself.

Pita House: I just happen to live about a mile away from Pita House, so it is my go-to place for take-out. Specializing in Middle Eastern food, Pita House is a great healthy-ish option. Just note that they only take cash or check! My usual order: The Middle East Plate with Gyro (comes with hummos, falafel, tahini salad and vegetables) and extra white and red pepper sauce.

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Happy and Hale: I’m not sure how I survived without Happy and Hale in my life. Everything on their menu is nourishing, delicious and healthy. Whether you’re in the mood for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a snack, Happy and Hale has plenty of options. My usual order: The Incredibowl with half kale half mixed greens, golden quinoa, roasted butternut squash, black beans, roasted beets, pumpkin seeds, avocado, mint, lemon tahini dressing and lime.

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ASADA: ASADA was my very first spot I wrote about on The Upstate Foodie, so it holds a special place in my heart. Owners Gina and Roberto were inspired by Latin American cooking and flavors, so started ASADA as a food truck serving out-of-this-world tacos. Now, ASADA is a thriving brick and mortar providing us with much more than just tacos. My usual order: Carnita Taco with a side of guacamole.

Asada | Greenville, SC | The Upstate Foodie

Sidewall Pizza: Sidewall brings together all of my favorite things: pizza, salads, ice cream and beer. Naturally, I go here every single year for my birthday and many more times throughout the year. It’s pretty apparent from my Instagram page that Sidewall Pizza never loses its charm in my eyes. My usual order: Greek Salad and (depending on who I’m sharing the pizza with) a half Margherita half Protein, or half Margherita half Hawaiian pizza.

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GB&D: This may be my most dined at spot of 2017. Everything at GB&D is not only delicious, but also beautiful and inspired, incorporating local ingredients into every dish. Their weekend brunch (ahem…doughnuts!) is incredible, but GB&D is also ideal for a quick lunch or cozy dinner. My usual order: GB&D changes their menu regularly, but I am always drawn to their Bibimbap, any of their salads, or their burger (with THE best fries ever).

Trappe Door: While we’re on the topic of amazing French fries, Trappe Door serves their “frites” with a trio of mayo in the flavors of your choice. Located below Barley’s Taproom with arguably the coziest ambiance in Greenville, Trappe Door specializes in hearty, comfort food and an impressive beer list. After dining here for my birthday dinner, I’ve recommended it to many other people! My usual order: I’ve only been here a handful of times, but adore their Frites, mussels, and Braised Short Ribs.

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Jianna: For all the pasta lovers out there, Jianna is the place for you. Located in a picturesque setting looking out on Falls Park, it has become an every-popular destination for a nice, celebratory dinner. You won’t find your traditional lasagna or spaghetti with meatballs on their menu, but instead think fresh oysters, simplistic pasta made by hand, and a Char-Grilled Chicken that will make you wonder why you usually never order chicken at a restaurant. My usual order: Start with the Ricotta Crostini with truffle honey, sea salt and grilled ciabatta…ALWAYS and the Spaghetti TBG (tomato, basil, garlic).

The Anchorage: I love everything about The Anchorage from their handcrafted cocktails to their elegant yet trendy atmosphere. Chef Greg McPhee’s attention to detail is apparent in all of their beautifully designed small plates. Their menu is constantly changing based off what’s in season, but I always start with the “For the Table” charcuterie board…and dessert is a must.

Bacon Bros.: Don’t be fooled. While Bacon Bros. does serve some pretty phenomenal bacon and meats, they have many other fame-worthy dishes on their menu. What I adore most about Bacon Bros. is that they have a little something for everyone, so it’s a win-win with a large group of varying likes and dislikes. My usual order: Devil’s Dust Eggs and The Burger or Shrimp and Grits.

Tsunami: I’ve been going to Tsunami for years, and it is still my #1 spot for sushi in the Upstate. The fish is always fresh and I can order the same thing every single time and be assured that it’s just as good as always. My usual order: Ginger Salad topped with seaweed and the Rainbow Roll–If I’m craving something more indulgent, I’ll convince someone to share the Surf and Turf Roll with me.

Kitchen Sync: The coolest thing about Kitchen Sync is that it’s the first certified “green” restaurant in Greenville. It is also a breath of fresh air as it’s located on Laurens Road so you don’t have to worry about the inconvenience of parking. Kitchen Sync says it best, calling itself a “soulful neighborhood restaurant with farm fresh scratch-made fare”. My usual order: The Shrimp Burger, any of their pizzas or the Tomato Pie (but only in the summer as it’s seasonal).

There you have it.  My 11 most recommended and frequented restaurants of 2017.  Now, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t many other restaurants in the Upstate that I love, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us!

tacos & mas

What makes a restaurant truly special? I think we would all agree that consistency, customer service, and quality of ingredients are three key factors. tacos & mas goes above and beyond those qualifications in more ways than one. Upon walking into tacos and mas, one will be graciously greeted by owners Hector and Ana Batista who, after years of management experience in the culinary realm, ventured out to open their own restaurant with cuisine inspired by authentic Latin flavors.

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tacos and mas isn’t your typical taco joint. Think casual taco restaurant meets grandmother’s kitchen in Dominican Republic. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to sit down and stay awhile, and Hector and Ana are pleased to oblige. There are personal touches throughout tacos & mas such as the tables built by Hector himself and the large painting done by an artist from Dominican Republic. The food at tacos & mas even incorporates flavors straight from Ana’s mom’s cooking.

Their menu is broken up into aperitivos (side dishes), meat, seafood and vegetarian tacos with homemade flour or corn tortillas, & mas (& more, larger entrée size dishes). tacos & mas had me at “free chips and salsa”. It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way. Two staples: Homemade Guacamole and Beef Empanadas are just about as flawless as you can ask for. My unexpected favorite aperitivos was the Yuca Frita. Similar to a french fry, except much larger with a smoother texture, this dish consists of fried cassaba with a delicious, creamy alcaparra dip with tangy flavors from the fresh lime, cilantro and capers.

I’ve now eaten twice at tacos & mas and can honestly say that every single taco is outstanding and priced at $4.50 or less. I won’t bore you with the description of allllll the tacos, but I will tell you which ones stood out among the rest. I’m a sucker for Cuban sandwiches, so naturally the Cubanito with flank steak, sweet plantain, avocado and black beans is my #1 pick. As with all the meat tacos at tacos & mas, you can tell that true love has gone into ensuring it is as flavorful and tender as possible. The sweet plantains are simply the “cherry on top” of this scrumptious taco.

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Following closely behind is the el ranchero (the farmer) with slow mojo cooked pork, chicharron, roasted corn, and green tomato. The drizzle of chilled green tomato sauce elevates this taco with a zesty punch of flavor. The last two tacos are tied for spot #3: Balcalao con Cerverza with Dos Equis battered cod fish and cabbage-radish slaw and the Camaron with sautéed shrimp, charred tomatillo and cilantro. Both of these tacos were fresh and bright, as all fish tacos should be.

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Upon my next visit to tacos & mas I will promptly order the Sandwich Cubano and the Ropa Vieja Cubana with braised flank steak, rice, beans and sweet plantains (notice a pattern here… J) Hector said that he wants his customers to “feel like family” at tacos & mas. I would say he’s succeeded.

tacos & mas is located at 802 S. Road in Greer, SC off The Parkway. They are open Monday – Friday from 11:00am-9:00pm and Saturday from 2:00pm-9:00pm.

Husk Greenville

The anticipation preceding the opening of Husk Restaurant in Greenville was no joke. Even I found myself lurking in the windows of the rumored location to catch a glimpse at what was to come. Why is Husk’s opening so monumental for Greenville? Because not only was it named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Bon Appetit in both 2011 and 2014, but James Beard award-winning Chef Sean Brock has a vision for southern cooking that goes far beyond fried chicken.

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The only other time I’ve visited Husk Restaurant was in Charleston last December, and I vividly remember sitting at the bar and telling the bartender two simple phrases “tangy and refreshing” and then sipping on one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. From what I’ve seen so far, Husk Greenville values the art of hand crafted cocktails. The “In the Pines” put me in the Christmas spirit with a base of Pine Rosin infused gin and a touch of bitters and lime juice.

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Husk embodies an ingredient-driven cuisine, meaning that not only do they locally source all of their ingredients, but they are also the inspiration for the menu each and every day. Of course there are some staples such as Fried Chicken Skins and Appalachian Cornbread, but I wouldn’t count on ordering the same thing twice. I went with a group of friends and, lucky for me, they were up for sharing a few things…

Starting with the “First” portion of the menu, we had the highly recommended Broadbent Country Ham. Think “southern charcuterie board” consisting of thinly sliced ham, three Cherokee bean cakes, HUSK apple mustard and pickled veggies. I would suggest layering a bite of the warm, slightly crispy bean cake, then a generous spread of apple mustard, slice of ham, and topping it off with your pickled veggie of choice.

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Another friend of mine insisted that we order the Crispy Pig Ear Wraps. I’m not going to lie…I was skeptical at first even as an adventurous eater. Now, looking back on my meal, these whimsical little wraps were my favorite dish. I’m still not entirely sure what exactly I was eating, except that the pig ears were much more delicate than I’d imagined, topped with a drizzle of pumpkin sweet and sour sauce, and wrapped in lettuce leaves.

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Not pictured is the HUSK Pimiento Cheese served with Anson Mills Benne Crackers and Ember Grilled Pork Ribs with NC Apple BBQ and Pork Rinds. Southern cuisine and pimiento cheese go hand in hand, so it’s a no-brainer that Chef Sean Brock has mastered this southern delicacy. As for the pork ribs, you simply can’t go wrong with smoked ribs, a sweet BBQ sauce…and let’s not forget the addicting pork rinds.

For “Supper” we ordered the Bear Creek Beef and NC Striper. The beef was cooked flawlessly and served with the creamiest Desiree potatoes and root vegetables. Even my friend who claims to usually be able to prepare steak better than any restaurant was impressed at the level of simplicity, yet perfection this dish possessed. Served atop Bradford Candy Roaster Squash, brown butter and pecans, the unassuming NC Striper took on the intense sweetness that appears when squash is prepared to its full potential. Each component showcases the attention and care that Chef Sean Brock puts into each and every dish.

Shockingly, the Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Sundae was the most complex dish of the night. I questioned flavors with each and every bite and am still curious as to the exact ingredients in this dessert. At the bottom of the bowl is a layer of poppycock, which is popcorn and peanuts tossed in a sweet and crunchy glaze typically made with butter and brown sugar, then a scoop of Olive & Sinclair chocolate ice cream, and what I’m assuming is a sprinkle of crushed peanuts on top. We also indulged in a Brown Butter Baked Cameo Apple served with Hickory Ice Cream. Needless to say we ended our night with a bang.

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Husk Restaurant is located at 722 S. Main Street. They are open for dinner every day at 5:00. Stay tuned as they release their lunch and brunch hours coming in January 2018!