A terrific way to sample some of downtown Greenville's best restaurants is by doing a tapas crawl. Here are my suggestions for a small-plate itinerary, which will transport you in the culinary sense from the South to south-of-the-border and beyond. Stops are arranged conveniently along Main Street from north to south. Bring a friend to share the fun!
First Stop: Roost
Start at the north-end of Main Street at the Hyatt Regency's farm-to-table restaurant, Roost. Flatbreads here are a must with their thin and crispy crusts and toppings such as shrimp and chorizo, with a drizzle of earthy truffle oil. Inspired by Mexican street food, the open-face smoked duck "street" tacos should also figure on your menu. Just roll up the soft tacos, encasing smoked duck breast, mild queso fresco, a kick of salsa verde, and refreshing avocado crema, and take a delicious bite. Insider's Tip: Weather permitting, stake out a table on the outdoor terrace and enjoy the people watching. Come sit outside on Thursday or Friday nights in spring and summer to enjoy live music on NOMA Square.
Second Stop: Soby's
From the Hyatt Regency, it's a short five-block walk to Soby's, where you can grab a high-top table in the bar area (near the front window walls that open onto the street in warm weather) to snack on an appetizer that celebrates a match made in Southern heaven: fried green tomatoes topped with pimiento cheese fondue. Soby's silky she-crab soup is another must-try. Spiked with sherry and Old Bay seasoning, this creamy soup-said to have been created by a Charleston butler in the mid-19th century-swims with luscious lump crabmeat. Insider's Tip: If you're in downtown Greenville earlier in the day, be sure to stop at Soby's on the Side for breakfast, lunch, or something sweet!
Third Stop: High Cotton
Further down the street and just over the bridge, you'll arrive at High Cotton, whose airy, contemporary space overlooks the Reedy River through its wall of windows. Chef Adrian Carpenter recently took the reins in the kitchen, where he turns out delectable dishes such as red wine-braised oxtail with house-made ricotta, and a heritage breed pork chop over Anson Mills sea island pea ragout. Whether you sit at a high-top table in the bar area or at a table in the two-story restaurant, the buttermilk fried oysters served with green goddess dressing star in the small-plate fare, complemented by the grapefruit overtones in a glass of crisp sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. Insider's Tip: Enjoy discounts on house brand Maverick spirits during High-Steppin' Happy Hour (4:00-6:30pm daily).
Fourth Stop: Lazy Goat
Continue down the sidewalk by the river from High Cotton, passing the artists' studios of Art Crossing at RiverPlace along the way. Just past the kids' splashy fountain, you can go up the stairs by the water wall for Mediterranean fare at the The Lazy Goat. The menu here includes plenty of tapas portions, ranging from harissa-spiced hummus to roasted mussels. Your favorite item on the menu just might be a meal in itself: the Moroccan lamb and papas bravas, roasted fingerling potatoes tossed with crispy chips of chorizo and drizzled with saffron aioli. Tender lamb shanks are braised in a tomato base spiced with paprika, coriander, cumin and cinnamon, then topped with a cool dollop of cucumber yogurt and a pair of crunchy plantain chips. Try pairing the lamb with a glass of medium-bodied Spanish tempranillo.
Last Stop: Breakwater
If you still have room for dessert, head down to the West End along South Main Street, where Breakwater's stylish bar offers up an equally trendy list of libations. A shot of Woodford Reserve will accent the house-made bourbon ice cream served alongside the restaurant's yummy pecan tart, while an Espresso Martini (Van Gogh double espresso vodka, Kahlua, coffee and cream) contains coffee and dessert in just one glass.
THAT Something Extra:
Sip-sational Sights and Sounds
If you're in the mood for another fun stop, experience the fresh night air and enjoy a bird's eye view of the hustle and bustle of Main Street below at the Sip Tasting Room & Rooftop Lounge. Give their Wine Emotion machine a try for a unique sampling experience!