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Oct 22, 2009 06:14 AM

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 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.