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Non-Q lunch off I-85, around Charlotte-Spartanburg-Greenville

Tomorrow I'm driving with my toddler from Durham to Atlanta and will want to stop for lunch along the way, likely near Charlotte or beyond, like Spartanburg or Greenville. I've done some searches of the boards here and mostly came up with reco's for BBQ and "meat + 2" type places. I can go to those if need be but we are vegetarians. I found one reco for "2 Chefs" in Greenville which sounds good. I'd like not to drive more than a mile or 2 off the highway. Any other ideas? Doesn't have to be the best eats in town, just fresh and hopefully not Denny's!

And coffee--beyond doing town-by-town or other types of searches on Google Maps, anyone know of a good listing of Starbucks and other coffee places along the highway? It seems like someone must have done this work for me already!

While we are on the subject, years ago a friend of mine had a guidebook to eateries along major US highways--anyone know what that might have been? I can't remember if it was comprehensive or specific to one highway or region or what...

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  1. exit 90 (the gafney outlet mall) and exit 54 (pelham rd, greenville) for your starbucks.
    for restaurants though, i can't think of anything other than chains within a mile or two off the highway. Try woodruff road- the business coridor of greenville, exit 51. i usually try to fly through charlotte, get to the SC to refuel, and eat in greenville.

    1. 2 Chefs is my favorite lunch spot, and their location on Pelham Rd. isn't too far off the highway (exit 54). They've got some good vegetarian options.

      1. You can always get the Veggie Plate at a Meat and Two, although I suspect you figured that out.

        Anyhow, Wade's Family Restaurant in Spartanburg has a very nice selection of veggies, although it would be in the Meat and Two category, as a traditional southern restaurant.


        1 Reply
        1. re: brentk

          Unfortunately a lot of diner-type restaurants cook many of their vegetables with pork or with chicken stock, which makes them poor options for vegetarians. That said, Wades looks good and I am willing to try it next time.

        2. On a trip back from Atlanta to Charlotte we stopped @ http://www.acropolisonpelham.com/ in Greenville, SC, just off of I-85. The food was wonderful - everything was hand made, even the the pita bread.

          1 Reply
          1. re: littlegirltree

            I used to live in Greenville and loved Acropolis. Awesome Greek pizza!

          2. There's a directory called The Next Exit that lists gas stations, lodging and restaurants at exits on all major US highways. That might be what you're referring to.

            1. The Penguin Drive-In in Charlotte is a great burger and hotdog place and it's kid friendly. Charlotte also has a couple of vintage Dairy Queen's. One of them is near the Penguin. www.choppedonion.com

              1. Well, the Penguin is nice enough, but it's loud and dark and beer heavy. I'm not sure I would call it "kid-friendly," though I'm sure they would be pleasant to the kids.

                5 Replies
                1. re: mrwaterslide

                  Not a great option for vegetarians, however.

                  1. re: brentk

                    I have to disagree - there's several vegetarian options on their menu. Veggie burgers, soy dogs, veggie chili, etc.


                    And it can be kid friendly during the day. At night is when the freaks come out.

                      1. re: pinogirl14

                        Yeah - daytime @ Penguin you'll be drowning in yuppies/tourists.

                        1. re: pinogirl14

                          Penguin is very kid friendly. I've brought several friends who have kids there and the servers have been awesome and patient with them.

                          The menu even has a peanut butter and banana sandwich on it....how much more kid friendy is that?

                          As for eating right off of 85 (and south of Charlotte), has anyone been to one of the Mr. Waffle restaurants?

                    1. I know it's a little late. This may be a bit out of the way, but the Rodi on Garrison Blvd. in Gastonia may fit the bill. www.rodiworld.com (Then again, it's no further off I-85 then the Penguin in Charlotte.) They are definitely kid-friendly and always have vegetarian option. Right now they only do lunch Tues-Thurs .

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: duke88

                        Thanks, that looks great, and Gastonia is a great halfway stop.

                      2. So we did stop at 2 Chefs To Go in Greenville SC, and it was excellent. It's only 1.5 miles off off I-85. I took the SC 14 exit instead of Pelham Rd. It's in a strip mall called, I think, "Pelham at 14" or something, and it is, as you might guess, at the intersection of Pelham and SC 14.

                        We tried the pimiento cheese sandwich, green beans with almonds, asian noodle salad, and fruit salad: all excellent and fresh. We liked it so much we stopped on the way back, too, and had an even better selection: tomato/mozz/basil salad, spinach salad with almonds and dried cranberries, and jalapeno coleslaw. Oh and a chocolate chip scone. Everything I had was a cut or two above similar dishes I have had elsewhere. For example, that tomato/mozz salad can be a drag with rubbery mozz. But this version was perfect. If you are familiar with Foster's Market in Durham & Chapel Hill, it's comparable, but I thought 2 Chefs was better. I am really happy to have found this new option for the Durham/Atlanta drive.

                        That said, I plan to try the Acropolis too. Freshly made pita sounds great.

                        As for coffee, I borrowed by parents' GPS device for the drive back and tried a Starbucks search. I ran into one of the limitations of using the GPS when I realized a bit belatedly that "it" was taking me to the airport!

                        1. I am resurrecting this old thread hoping someone has that list of Starbucks/coffee off of I-85 through NC, SC, and GA! I am sure "there's an app for that," but I don't have a smart phone or a GPS. This MUST exist somewhere, yes??

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: momisd

                            There is a Starbuck's right off of 85 on Woodruff Road in Greenville...I think that is exit 56. If you are heading south on 85 you would get off of the interstate and turn right...it can't be 200 yards on the right...just past a strip mall with Five Guys, Rita's Ice, etc. Another option is Liquid Highway..I actually prefer their coffee to Starbucks! They are located on both Woodruff and Pelham but further down then you might be willing to go.