By Russell Sanford
Greenville often boasts about how many restaurants are within a mile of its downtown business district and even the number of places that aren’t downtown. But despite the surplus of restaurants, there are still some holes that could be filled. While not all of these would succeed in Greenville right now given the current trends in our local restaurant and food scene, it would be great to see them eventually become a part of it.
Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza
There’s plenty of gourmet and New York-style pizza in Greenville, but Chicago deep-dish is severely lacking. Some do not consider this real pizza, but it is delicious nonetheless. The thick, buttery crust with layers of meat and cheese topped with sauce could be wonderful with locally made sausage or potentially a Southern twist featuring pulled pork.
A Different Regional Style of Barbecue
Charleston has received many accolades over the past few years for its diverse barbecue offerings. Lewis Barbecue serves up Texas-style barbecue; Rodney Scott’s BBQ keeps the Lowcountry’s whole-hog style alive and well; and Home Team is all over the map with chicken, brisket, and daily specials that make your mouth water. While the Upstate barbecue tradition is on solid footing, it might be time to bring in another regional style and shake things up a bit.
Dim sum is a style of Chinese cuisine where small items such as dumplings, steamed buns, rice, and noodle rolls are eaten as a meal much like Spanish tapas. While many Asian restaurants in Greenville allow you to create an ersatz dim sum experience, no restaurant has dim sum as its singular focus. The variety found in dim sum is staggering, and having a place that provides a completely different experience each time you go would help broaden the horizons of Greenville’s dining.
Nashville, Tenn., has been producing hot chicken for years, but only recently has it become a national obsession. People wait hours in line at Howlin’ Ray’s in Los Angeles, and in Columbus, Ohio, Hot Chicken Takeover regularly sells out of chicken before the restaurant closes. The closest true hot-chicken restaurant is Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in Asheville, N.C. There are many places in Greenville that serve hot chicken as a special, a sandwich, or a single menu item, but none compares to the chicken you get from a place where it is the specialty.
Multicourse Prix Fixe Fine Dining
Many restaurants in Greenville are expensive special-occasion places, but none offers a chef-driven, tasting-menu-only experience — something in the vein of McCrady’s in Charleston or Bacchanalia in Atlanta. At these establishments, you have little choice in the food you receive — the menu changes with the seasons and the chef’s taste — but there are courses that surprise you and make you smile. Plus, the service is impeccable. Greenville needs a restaurant that offers a three-hour dining experience and not just a meal.
Unique Sandwich Shop
Sandwiches don’t seem that exciting, but they can be. Take a look at New Orleans’ Turkey and the Wolf or Charleston’s Tattooed Moose. While many sandwich shops exist in Greenville with good-to-great offerings, none serves a different spin on sandwiches with the unique ambience to boot. Greenville needs a shop that uses local meats, makes as many toppings in-house as possible, creates interesting combinations of flavors and textures, offers enticing daily or weekly specials, and has at least one signature sandwich you can’t find anywhere else in town. And last but not least: It needs to stay open past 3 p.m.