Rocket Surgery

People always ask me “What’s your favorite restaurant in Greenville”? When I consider all my equally delicious options, I tend to lean towards the places I eat at time and time again: Sidewall Pizza being one of those places. The reason being that Sidewall Pizza is about so much more than just good pizza. With a different flavor of homemade ice cream each day, hot sauce made from scratch and salads that almost rival the pizza, Sidewall Pizza is a goldmine.

So, when the rumors began that owner Andy O’Mara was going to open a new restaurant in Travelers Rest the city of Greenville was buzzing with excitement. Having only opened their doors a few weeks ago, Rocket Surgery has already lived up to the hype, focusing on the art of craft cocktails and elevated snacks. With a simple, casual atmosphere including large doors that let in a nice breeze, Rocket Surgery is the kind of place where relaxation is all but guaranteed.

As to be expected with one of Andy’s ventures, Rocket Surgery has a whole lot to offer besides just tasty food. Equally as impressive, their signature libations are raising the bar for handcrafted cocktails in The Upstate. Their drink menu is listed in order of booziness making the decision process a little easier on us all, and priced at $10 or less per cocktail. Can’t decide? Name your spirit of choice or favorite flavors and let the bartenders work their magic. My drink of choice is the Gabrielle consisting of gin, elderflower, gentian, honey, lemon and bitters. Not too sweet, a little floral, and slightly bitter, this cocktail is right up my alley.

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What style of food would you expect from a cocktail bar? Snacks, burgers, maybe something sweet…Rocket Surgery has all those options, but takes well-known “bar food” and turns it into something unique. Take their Fried Calamari, for example. Crispy pieces of calamari don’t just come with a side of marinara sauce, but instead are tossed in butter, garlic, roasted red peppers, sweet banana peppers, hot cherry peppers and kalamata olives then topped with a sprinkle of pecorino cheese. Something about the simple addition of peppers takes an okay appetizer and turns it into a complex, mouth-watering dish.

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Other scrumptious snacks include a straightforward Shrimp Cocktail with spicy cocktail sauce, Stuffed Olives perfect for dipping into their roasted garlic aioli and a unanimous favorite of our table, Crispy Brussels Sprouts tossed in a honey lemon sriracha glaze. Remember when brussels sprouts used to be everyone’s most-hated vegetable? That’s certainly not the case anymore. Especially when they get extra-crispy and then coated in a sweet and spicy sauce that makes you forget you’re eating a vegetable.

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Rocket Surgery does their burgers a little bit different too, by offering a wide-variety of “Snack-Size” portions, or what you may more commonly know as “sliders”. Order 1 if you just want a snack, or 2-3 for a full meal. They have everything from your traditional certified angus beef patty served with ketchup, Dijon mustard, butter lettuce, tomato and red onion, to a lamb patty with feta, spicy harissa and fresh spinach. Much to my surprise, being the meat lover that I am, the burger that stole my heart was the Falafel burger with pickled cucumber and tzatziki. The falafel patty itself is creamy and full of flavor with a punch of acidity from the pickled cucumber and light, refreshing tzatziki. I must note: Not only do all the burgers from Rocket Surgery come on a house made brioche bun, but they even make their ketchup, Dijon mustard, aioli, sauces and dressings in house!

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Be sure to follow Rocket Surgery on social media because along with their usual menu items, they offer dinner specials like this Hot Chicken Sandwich topped with butter pickles, garlic aioli, and served on the most delicious brioche bun in all the land. Here in the south, we take our fried chicken pretty seriously, and Rocket Surgery meets all my expectations with their spicy rendition of a southern classic.

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When a restaurant bakes their own brioche bread fresh every day, and they have Bread Pudding on the menu, you order it no questions asked. An astounding “mmmmm” fell over the table as we took our first bites of this decadent dessert. This is no average bread pudding; trust me I’ve tried a lot. Rocket Surgery pours an almost sinful bourbon cream sauce over the pieces of brioche bread then tops the dish with toasted pecans. Needless to say there were no leftovers.

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Rocket Surgery is open Monday and Thursday from 5:00PM-10:00PM and Friday – Saturday from 5:00PM-11:00PM. Don’t miss their Sunday brunch from 10:00AM to 3:00PM! I’ve heard they’ve got hot donuts…and, of course, boozy cocktails.

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Farmhouse Tacos

New taco spots are taking over the Upstate’s foodie scene. Ranging from traditional San Diego style tacos to eccentric, food truck tacos and over the top creations, we’ve got your taco cravings covered. A newbie to the taco frenzy, Farmhouse Tacos, opened about two months ago in Travelers Rest and is fully equipped to offer you something a little different than the rest.

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What sets Farmhouse Tacos apart from other loved taco spots? Their dishes are understated and fresh with a southern flair. “Hand Crafted. Locally Sourced. Made with Love.” That’s the motto at Farmhouse Tacos and it’s the first thing you’ll take note of when tasting their food.

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Farmhouse Tacos is committed to providing customers with the Mexican classics we all love such as the ever-popular trio of guacamole, salsa and queso to hold you over until your entrees arrive. But, Farmhouse’s guacamole is house-made, their salsa consists of charred tomatillos, and their queso has a building heat from the fire-roasted green chiles.

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When it comes to tacos, Farmhouse has a little something for everyone, and, trust me, I tried almost Every. Single. One. Leaning towards pork? Try the tender Verde Braised Pork Shoulder topped with charred tomatillo salsa, pineapple and red onion. This taco is a little bit of sweet, little bit of savory, and a whole lotta flavor.

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Prefer something on the lighter side? I’d highly recommend the Chile Rubbed Tuna, which also happens to be my favorite taco from Farmhouse. The tuna is served rare and melts in your mouth. Underneath that beautiful tuna tower topped with chipotle aioli, you’ll find sweet corn, a poblano relish and fried avocado.

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Can’t get enough of that southern fried chicken? Go with the Travelers Rest Hot Chicken for a spicy kick served with cornbread croutons, pickled okra, and buttermilk dressing, or the classic Farmhouse Buttermilk Fried Chicken served with a buttermilk slaw, micro greens, and a honey jalapeno crema. Both tacos are mouth-watering with their tender on the inside; crispy on the outside fried chicken.

The sides at Farmhouse Tacos are not to be overlooked. Basically, they are all southern staples such as collard greens, corn on the cob, and cornbread, but with a Mexican twist that simply can’t be beat. I tried the Southern Collard Greens with green tomato chow chow, the Jalapeno Mac N’ Cheese, and the Charred Corn Cob. I must say, all the sides had noteworthy flavors, but I’ve been craving that corn ever since. They rub the corn cob in a spicy aioli, then top it with green onion and cojita cheese.   Mmmmmm…trust me on this one!

Everyone loves a quesadilla. Juicy meat and melted cheese placed inside a tortilla and dunked in salsa and sour cream…what’s not to like? The Steak Fajita Quesadilla from Farmhouse is no exception. It comes stuffed full of citrus glazed peppers and onions, perfectly cooked steak, and ooey-gooey, melted cheese.

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Farmhouse Tacos’ vision is simple: No-nonsense food, elevated southern flavors and farm-fresh ingredients. Combine that with a killer atmosphere and an awesome bar equipped with craft cocktails, and you’ve got an ideal dining destination for all. Farmhouse Tacos is located at 164 South Main Street in Travelers Rest. They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 -9 and Sunday from 11 – 4.

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Upcountry Provisions Bakery and Bistro

Nestled in the heart of Travelers Rest, Upcountry Provisions Bakery and Bistro is a charming spot to enjoy pastries, sandwiches, soups, salads, and more. Located right off the Swamp Rabbit trail, it is a wonderful place to stop and breathe in the fresh air on their porch, or cozy up inside with a cup of coffee. Upcountry Provisions prides themselves on using organic and local ingredients to serve food that is homemade and simply delicious.

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I am anxiously awaiting the chance to try Upcountry Provisions’ breakfast after having such a satisfying and delicious lunch there! Their menu is unique in that it offers a list of roughly ten sandwiches that can be served on your choice of bread, or made into a salad. They also have fresh side items and homemade soups of the day. All of their sandwich combinations sound mouth-watering, so be ready to make a tough decision!

I decided upon The Upcountry, which consists of turkey, Havarti cheese, cranberry chutney, and mayo served between two thick slices of dark honey wheat bread. There is nothing quite like taking the first bite into a hearty, delicious sandwich…especially when it involves gooey cheese, lots of turkey, and sweet cranberry chutney. The homemade bread is what really took this sandwich to the next level. It was soft on the inside and barely crunchy on the outside with a slight sweetness to it. I know that you’re thinking…yes, this sandwich tastes like everything you would want from Thanksgiving leftovers!

My friend ordered The Poinsett Club with turkey, provolone cheese, bacon, tomato, mixed greens and chipotle mayo on homemade Focaccia bread topped with red onions and kosher sea salt. Yet again, the bread was phenomenal on this sandwich! This is the perfect sandwich if you want something simple, flavorful, and filling. As my friend put it, “you simply can’t go wrong with turkey, cheese, and bacon.”

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Let’s not forget the desserts. The first thing that catches your eye when entering Upcountry Provisions is their dessert case filled with decadent cookies, breads, pastries, bars, you name it. Sadly, they were sold out of their signature peanut butter cookies, but I was not disappointed in the least with my choices. I tried the oatmeal cookie with cranberries and white chocolate chips, as well as the chocolate chip cookie sandwich. Oh my goodness! Both desserts were scrumptious and were the perfect size for a small treat.

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There are so many wonderful places to eat in Travelers Rest, but if you’re looking for something simple, homemade, hearty, and delicious Upcountry Provisions is the place for you! They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30am-7:00pm and are located at 6809 State Park Road.

The Hungry Drover

About 4 years ago, John and Debbie Wilson opened The Hungry Drover and began serving up homemade southern classics in Travelers Rest, SC. Enjoying breakfast, lunch, or dinner at The Hungry Drover can be best described as “a farm fresh eating experience”. John and Debbie pride themselves on using fresh, local ingredients in all of their dishes, and it makes quite a difference!

Hungry Drover | Travelers Rest, SC |The Upstate Foodie

Hungry Drover is located on Tigerville Road at the intersection just past Sandy Flat Berry Patch. The charming building looks very similar to a farmer’s market with red brick and a blue metal awning. Once inside, you can check out all of the local crafts and products for sale such as fresh dairy and paintings by artists around the upstate.

Hungry Drover | Travelers Rest, SC |The Upstate Foodie

Their lunch menu offers sandwiches, hot plates, small plates (same great food, just not as much), and salads. The Drover Cuban Sandwich caught my eye with BBQ, ham, dill pickle, Dijon mustard, and Swiss cheese, grilled on homemade Cuban Bread. They offer three hot plates that all sound equally tasty: the BBQ Plate, Tomato Pie, and Smokey Gouda Bacon Tomato Pie. Their salads are all made with the freshest ingredients such as the Jerk Chicken Salad served on a bed of greens with red onion, dried cranberries, feta cheese, toasted pecans, and seasonal fruit. Their dessert menu changes daily, but some choices include cinnamon swirl bread, ganache brownies, and key lime cake.

Hungry Drover | Travelers Rest, SC |The Upstate Foodie

My mom and I shared the classic Tomato Pie plate with a house salad and the BBQ plate with coleslaw and baked beans. The first thought that came to my mind when the food came to the table was that I felt like I was at my grandma’s house. Everything is prepared exactly how you would expect and with no fuss. The tomato pie was rich and savory with a buttery crust that still kept a nice crunch despite all the creamy goodness. No ordinary tomatoes went into this tomato pie! The vibrant, ripe tomatoes were layered all through the pie, and were delicious sliced on top of the house salad with lemon vinaigrette.  Look at those tomatoes!!

Hungry Drover | Travelers Rest, SC |The Upstate Foodie

The pulled pork BBQ was perfection. It literally melted in your mouth! I would love to know their secret of getting the pork so tender, smoky, and flavorful. They served the barbecue with a sweet/tangy mustard based sauce that we drizzled over everything. A real bonus to this classic BBQ plate was the homemade, buttery toasted bread served on the side. Top that crispy bread with the barbeque, sweet baked beans, and tangy coleslaw and you’re in for a one amazing bite.

Hungry Drover | Travelers Rest, SC |The Upstate Foodie

Don’t leave Hungry Drover without trying one of their homemade, scrumptious desserts! We shared the Key Lime Pie Cake and it exceeded my expectations. Imagine a thick piece of dense, moist pound cake with a hint of lime topped with a sugary lime icing. My mom and I were both blown away by the sheer decadence and simplicity of this cake.

Hungry Drover | Travelers Rest, SC |The Upstate Foodie

Lunch isn’t your only dining option at Hungry Drover! I’ve heard their breakfast serves up some pretty phenomenal omelets, biscuits with gravy, and sourdough French toast to name a few. They are also open for dinner on Friday nights and the menu changes weekly offering two or three entrée choices. If you love food that is simple, fresh, and just downright good Hungry Drover is the place for you.

Hungry Drover | Travelers Rest, SC |The Upstate Foodie

Hungry Drover is located at 2601 Tigerville Road in Travelers Rest, SC. They are open Tuesday-Thursday from 8am to 2pm; Friday from 8am to 2pm and 5pm to 7:30pm; and Saturday from 8am-12pm.