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New Yorker in Greenville, SC uncovering hidden gems - Cafe Paulista Grille and Saigon Fast Food

Hello - this is my first post on chowhound. I've religiously used this site to find good food all around the world. I really love it when I travel as I love finding great local food.

I just moved from NYC to Greenville and have been on the hunt to find some great restaurants. So far I have found two that I really like and wanted to get thoughts on others to head to.

Went last night to Cafe Paulista Grille on Wade Hampton. The food is really fantastic - I especially loved the top sirloin and chicken skewers with the feijoada (black beans stew and rice). VERY reasonably priced and BYOB (Publix is very close for some wine). The owner, Val is a sweetheart who introduced herself and talked us through the menu. An enjoyable dinner and highly recommended

I also frequent Saigon Fast Food off North Pleasantburg for a chicken banh mi sandwich (with extra veggies) Run by husband/wife team they have some great authentic vietnamese and are very inexpensive.

For BBQ I really like the food and atmosphere of Henry's BBQ. Cute place and food is consistently good.

I've been on the hunt for great mexican food and read a bit about Las Meras Tortas. I liked the place but wasn't blown away. Any other thoughts on mexcian? I'd love to find some good tacos al pastor.

I've read other posts on Greenville restaurants especially the ones downtown. I really want to uncover the hidden gems of Greenville. Many thanks for any recommendations!


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  1. Hi - Is Cafe Paulista the place next to Drew's furniture? What country of origin does it claim?

    I like Saigon Fast food as well. Pho 99 is also decent on Wade Hampton.

    Have you tried Pita House?
    What about Island Blend on Main Street?

    Las Meras Tortas is about the best I've found in G'ville, but no, it doesn't blow you away.

    Murasake at Cherrydale is worth your time if you'll sit at the bar and cultivate a relationship w/ the sushi chef.

    2 Replies
    1. re: danna

      Cafe Paulista is next to Drew's furniture. It is Brazilian food.

      I finally found my mexican food this weekend. I got a tip that there was a great place at the Civic Center on 1310 Cedar Lane Rd. It is a very local spot and is only open Fri-Sun at 6pm-2am. This place is VERY authentic and matches an experience in Mexico. The tacos al pastor was a bit on the sweet side but so far the BEST mexican in Greenville.



      ps. Thanks for the other tips - will check them out!

      1. re: danna

        Just had lunch at Las Meras Tortas on White Horse. It was very good, huge torta, good condiment bar, price was very reasonable. Homemade tortillas for the tacos were terrific. We were the only gringos in the place.

        Las Meras Tortas
        6119 White Horse Rd Ste 1, Greenville, SC 29611

      2. Thanks for the reminder about Cafe Paulista. It's been on my to-try list for a long time now. It's Brazilian food.

        I haven't tried any of these yet but they're also on my list (I just don't eat out enough!):
        Schwaben House (German)
        Cositas Ricas (Columbian)
        Yard Bird Cafe (Meat and 3/Soul food)

        1. First, welcome to Greenville. We're 'half back's' and really love it here.

          Saigon and Pho 99 are both very good (according to everyone who does my nails - in which if ever in Charlotte, they all recommend Tin Tin)
          *Pita House - ROCKS!!! Had it for lunch with my foodie husband - cash only.
          and here's the newest shocker, we actually have REAL NY pizza at *Happy Pie on Pelham. Don't go to the Woodruff location (they use different ovens). Can't believe how good the pizza is and it even comes with the grease stream aka free beverage.
          Straight from Miami, you can find Authentic Cuban at Mojitos on the West End of Greenville.
          Having lived in Northern CA for a while, we also are missing our tacos but at the same time fascinated by the weird, white cheese sauce they put on everything here in the South. Even though it's a chain, Chipole has been doing us well with their carnitas burritos. Good luck and let us know if you find Al Pastor.

          Oh, and don't forget Greenfield's Bagels and Deli! It's the only boiled bagel in Greenville and Robin Greenfield is a blast to chat with about her whitefish spread, rainbow cookies and even black and whites. LOVE IT and couldn't live without it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: doughho

            PS> Happy Pie on Pelham closed, but he took his ovens to the Woodruff location!

          2. The best Mexican in town is definitely Monterrey. There are a few around town, but the one near Haywood Mall is the best!

            2 Replies
            1. re: acstan

              Seriously? Worst Mexican food experience OF MY LIFE at the Monterrey near Heywood. Could not eat it.

              1. re: suse

                Yeah, I'd have to second suse...Monterrey is the mexican joint where I take my kids..nothing but fast food mexican. Try Anita's in Simpsonville on Main St--pretty authentic run by Mexican wonderful wife and funny husband who's American and their grown sons. They have good weekday lunch specials..no tex mex.
                Also Sabroso (one on Woodruff and one of Haywood) - owner is Mexican American who went to Wade Hampton High - best tamales around.
                And what civic center and where is Cedar Lane Rd?? We've been here almost 3 years and I haven't heard of that place--need to put it on the list.
                And have you been to Barley's downtown next to Wild Wing? It's the best pizza in town with the best beer list in town...hands down.

            2. There is a good Mexican hole in the wall in Greer. Near downtown at the intersection of East Poinsett and Hwy 101. The name is Tijuana and it shares a building with the gas station on the corner there. When I'm there for lunch (I work nearby), I am frequently the only "gringo" in the joint. The American soft tacos with asada are piled high with stuffings and they have a side bar for a multitude of accompaniments (lime, pico, cilantro, multiple sauces, pickled carrots, etc.) They're always surprised when the gringo orders horchiata too.

              The other place you need to try is "Grits and Groceries" in Belton (a few miles outside of Anderson). Two classically trained chefs (he was Emeril's pastry chef in New Orleans - yes THAT Emeril and she had her own French Quarter restaurant) move out to to the middle of nowhere and renovate an old country store and turn the place into food magic. Country food with a bit of a twist. Really good but not hard on the wallet. If you are used to NY, you'll be talking about this one with your friends.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Magic Pig

                Hi, its David back again - been enjoying my time here in greenville. Have been spending a bunch of time at Northampton Wine Bar eating at the bar and drinking some great wine but still hunting for great spots.

                Took "Magic Pig's" advice and just got back from a great Saturday brunch at Grits and Groceries. Husband/wife team from NOLA cooking up some really delicious food in an warm casual space. I sat at the bar and really had a great meal - eggs benedict, shrimp and grits (sauce is perfect) and braised rabbit with an assortment of homemade desserts - homemade ice cream, carrot cake and cheesecake.

                A bit of a drive from Greenville but completely worth it as I haven't seen anything else match it in the area. Highly recommended and will be back. Also will be bringing all my guests from out of town here for brunch as it is a one of a kind place.


                Grits and Groceries
                2440 Due West Hwy, Belton, SC 29627

                1. re: davidshap

                  David -

                  I'm pleased you agreed with the recommendation of Grits and Groceries. When I first started going there, they hadn't been "found" yet which worried me because I wasn't sure they were going to make it. I mean, who in their right mind puts a restaurant literally in the middle of nowhere across from a field of goats? But word of good food travels fast and now there's a good steady flow of traffic.

                  One thing I was going to mention as you may not have seen this on your visit, but one Saturday a month they do a dinner club. They sell a fixed number of tickets (which always sells out) and they usually bring in a band. It's BYOB - they'll provide wine glasses for you though. Spring and fall are always the most popular because of the weather. Not your ordinary Saturday night dinner out. Recommended to try at least once. Info for their supper club can be found on their website.

                  Grits and Groceries
                  2440 Due West Hwy, Belton, SC 29627

                  1. re: FL32082

                    I'm not sure - I've only been for lunch. But this is really a lunch place anyway. The interior is pretty much fast food type tables.

                2. Welcome to Greenville! I have passed Cafe Paulista and never tried it - I will now. I do like Henry's Smokehouse - my favorite thing there is the hash and rice. I would like to add another small spot at University Square heading towards Furman University, Karrie's Deland Grille. She makes all of her sandwiches and sides and has great soup. The place is small and you stand in line to place your order then wait at a table while they make your food. Or they have a small bar that you can wait at. Their Reubens are good, their macaroni salad is good, French Onion Soup - very good. They have lots of varieties and also vegetarian choices. Lunch is always crowded and since I have lived within a mile of this place all of my life, I always run into people I know there - locals love this place! Keep us posted on your new finds, we tend to stick to the tried and true places sometimes!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dane18

                    Sorry I meant to say Karrie's Deli and Pub, I checked the name yesterday when I was at Publix next door. There is a new Mexican restaurant in the shopping center - Mr. Salsa that is getting great local reviews but I haven't been there. I will still stick to telling you Karrie's is good, hot and a lot of food!

                  2. Here's a place to try: Scratch Cafe. Scratch has been around for a while as a take-out meals place, but now they have a sit down cafe too. Yesterday I got an interesting seared salmon salad. Interesting because it had whole fennel and corriander seeds sprinkled over the greens, along w/ the golden raisins. I liked it...you would have thought it would be too strong, but it was nice.

                    I'll be back to try the chicken and dumplings which I was assued had no cream, and only 4 fat grams in a serving. They seem to be leaning toward healthy stuff (within reason). They also had lots of local product for sale, I bought a pretty head of hydroponic lettuce. I forced myself NOT to buy, for caloric reasons, Split Creek Farms goat cheese, Happy Cow butter, some local artisanal bread, etc.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: danna

                      Danna - where is this place? I have been her forever and never heard of it!

                      1. re: dane18

                        guess that would help! it's on Augusta Rd. in the shopping center where Augusta Grille is. It's in the old Currant Thymes space, if anyone has been around that long.

                    2. Thanks for the report on Saigon Fast Food. Just tried it out and it was excellent. Can't wait to to try out more dishes. The owner claims her husband makes better Thai food than most Thai places. I'm going to give it a shot. Cafe Paulista Grille is on my list.

                      1. Finally tried out Cafe Paulista today for brunch. We loved it. We sampled several of the croquettes and shared one of the pancakes. Everything was delicious and the latté was excellent. Val was lovely. Thanks for the recommendation. Can't wait to try it for dinner.

                        1. Agreed on Cafe Paulista & Saigon Fast Food -- good stuff.

                          Papas & Beers is a Mexican restaurant opening a Greenville location very soon (near the downtown airport off of Haywood road). Check it out - I always stop at their Asheville location when passing through the area.

                          Love me some Island Blend and Pita House as already mentioned, but one of my favorites is Swad on Laurens Road for some homestyle Indian cooking (all veg and without the heavy gravies you get at most Indo/Pak restaurants). However, do choose the roti over the naan since they don't have a proper tandoor to get the naan super crispy and don't miss the Aloo Bonda - one the best things they make.

                          By the way, tried Scwaben House and was disappointed - the food was fairly good, but the atmosphere was lame - to the point where it killed the overall experience.

                          I will be checking out the Mexican on Cedar Lane in the near future -- thanks.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: allez117

                            Schwaben House atmosphere is lame-O. I totally agree. The food is good, but they're gonna get a run for their money when "Hans and Franz Biergarten" opens up very soon. Same guy that runs Addy's. It's in an old old building off Pelham Rd. Outdoor seating and an interior with atmosphere for days. Hope they get a good chef.

                            1. re: allez117

                              Haha, i just saw this..Schwaben house really does have awful atmosphere and i was hoping someone noticed. The Wiener-Schnitzel was actually pretty delicious until I couldn't take the blaring German techno anymore and nearly walked out.

                              Hans and Frans biergarten on Pelham and 14 is a must try. Dumb name, great atmosphere..had some simple peel and eat shrimp and fries to go along with my Augustiners and was very happy with everything. It's Addy's new joint so I didn't expect any less.

                              1. re: allez117

                                Can you specify what you mind about Schwaben House's atmosphere?
                                I'm from Chicago and it reminds me of the German and Polish family-style places, there, kind of like going to your grandmother's house to eat.
                                I'm just curious about what is bothersome to people. I thought it was clean, friendly, and comfy.

                                1. re: vegnsuzanne

                                  It actually was clean, and very friendly. I guess "awful atmosphere" is a bit harsh. They just had German Techno and Rap blaring at full volume. That's all really..decor was bad..but you're right it is sort of like eating at a grandmothers house. If she liked really loud music.

                                  1. re: foodnbeer24

                                    Lol... There was no techno music when I was there, so I can't comment on that. But, when I brought my elderly mother there recently the owner noticed right away that we used an (I'm sure mildly) accurate attempt at pronouncing the food names, and immediately engaged us in German convo. She was awesome! My mom had a great time, and they traded tips on making authentic strudel. We got great service, the food was plentiful, and it was just a fun evening, overall.

                              2. Taqueria Ixmiquilpan if you want authentic Mexican tacos. In the Berea neighborhood, at the very end of W. Washington, 118 Smythe St. is the address. You don't go there for gauche, lame "Tex-Mex" decor, it is a very down-to-earth, no-frills place where the local Hispanics eat. No beer the last time I was there, but the food is fantastic and absolutely authentic. If this ain't a "hidden treasure", you won't find one!! HIghly recommended.

                                Taqueria Ixmiquilpan
                                118 Smythe St, Greenville, SC 29611

                                1. I am so happy to find this! I, too, recently moved to Greenville from New York (by way of Florida), and my husband and I are always on the search for great food, the more "hole in the wall," the better. I will post restaurants as we find them. I am so happy to have found Greenville, I already feel at home here, and am looking forward to many great restaurant finds!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: amandas

                                    I love Moretti's Pizza on Butler Road in Mauldin (right off of 385) for pizza, Buffalo fish fry, wings and beef on weck. Actually it's all good. Wonderful eggplant parm, too. The owners are from Buffalo; I think it's the best pizza in Greenville.

                                  2. Really glad you mentioned Cafe Paulista. The owner is so nice. Be sure and do not miss dessert of coffee.. Best Latte and Black Forest cake in town.

                                    Good call on Tijuana in Greer for Tacos. The al pastor is great and the condiment bar is a plus. But if you want a good, fresh taco de lengua or carne asada, head across the street to La Estrella. It looks kinda rough from the outside but its clean and well maintained inside. The tacos are cheap, and they come out with fresh tomatillo salsa, onion, and cilantro on top. Classic.

                                    1. Has anyone tried "El Rincon" Colombian
                                      6300 White Horse Rd # 127, Greenville
                                      I love their "Arroz con Camarones" & Cazuela de Mariscos, they have Bandeja Paisa thats better than Cositas Ricas (Colombian)
                                      The daily special is good also, except Fridays. Daily special soups are wonderful. I work around the corner from El Rincon and eat their every week. BTW this is a Colombian restuarant so please do not order Mexican food. You have been warned.

                                      1. my god - Saigon Fast Food had the WORST Vietnamese food I've EVER had - and I mean WORST FOOD EVER. We ordered 5 different dishes and they all were ghastly. Beware..

                                        Saigon Fast Food
                                        1011 N Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville, SC 29607

                                        1. If your looking for good authentic Mexican in G-vegas I suggest Rosalinda Fonda. It is a cute little whole in the wall on N.Pleasantburg across from Bob Jones University. Rosalinda is always in the kitchen and she is so sweet. The tortillas are home made!! And she may have the best Mole I have ever had.

                                          Rosalinda Fonda
                                          1124 N Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville, SC 29607

                                          1. I see that this is very old and may not be useful anymore but just in case, you should check out el matador in Greer sc. It is the best Mexican food I've ever had. They grow their own peppers and make the salsa day of.