Greenville Grub

Tucked in the northwest corner of South Carolina, Greenville is a great little city with a big culinary scene.  It’s an easy weekend getaway from Charleston, so last week we packed the car and headed to the upstate for three days of eating and exploring.  While Greenville has outposts of several Charleston restaurants (like Halls Chophouse, Caviar & Bananas and soon Husk), we opted for spots we don’t have here at home – and whether new (or new-to-us) hot spots or old favorites, they were mostly very satisfying.  Let’s dig in!

Biscuit Head

We’ll confess that we chose Biscuit Head for our first breakfast in Greenville based largely on its name, but we’ll be back on subsequent trips for the food, too.  A short drive from downtown, Biscuit Head offers a variety of (you guessed it) biscuit-based sandwiches and biscuit-and-gravy combos.  There’s also a jam bar (genius!) where you can fancy up a plain biscuit with everything from traditional blueberry jam to more exotic offerings like raspberry chocolate, apple pie and funfetti cake.

We were starving and knew we’d be skipping lunch, so we both opted for fairly substantial sandwiches.  The fried catfish biscuit – served with spicy slaw, tomato, a poached egg and creole gravy – looked amazing.  Unfortunately, we found that the creole gravy didn’t really work with the dish – its flavor clashed with that of the catfish, and it made the biscuit soggy and crumbly.  The mimosa-fried chicken biscuit, however, was outrageously good.  Served with sweet potato butter, sriracha slaw and a poached egg, the sandwich had the perfect balance of crunch, sweetness and heat.

Passerelle Bistro

Since Friday was Bastille Day, we chose the charming Passerelle Bistro for dinner that evening.  Passerelle offers classic French fare (including a kids’ menu) at the entrance to Falls Park.  We’d been walking around in the heat all day (and had gorged ourselves on biscuits in the morning), so we opted for a simple dinner of crusty bread, butter and radishes, two Niçoise salads and a carafe of cold, crisp Muscadet.

The crusty bread came out exactly as promised: four long slices of a hearty baguette, paired with a ramekin of quality salted butter.  The radish portion of the dish was sadly rather lacking: we received 6 small slices, probably totaling one raw radish.  We don’t normally equate quantity to quality, but in this case one radish per order does not an appetizer make.  Radishes and butter are a classic French bistro appetizer, and these delivered on flavor – we just wish there were more of them.

If you squint, you can see a sliver of radish.

For our main course, we both chose the Niçoise salad, which was a delicious choice on a boiling hot day.  Seared rare tuna came alongside hard boiled eggs, juicy cherry tomatoes and crisp green beans, all atop a mesclun mix.  We’ve ordered this each time we’ve been to Passerelle, and will probably continue that tradition on our next visit.  Though Passerelle’s prime location makes it a bit touristy, we’d definitely come back for a glass of wine and a bite to eat on the outdoor terrace on a cooler day!

Niçoise salad

Greenville Saturday Market

Saturday morning, we decided to forego a traditional breakfast in favor of a trip to Greenville’s incredible farmers market.  Every Saturday morning from May through October, several blocks of Main Street close to traffic and open to pedestrians and a plethora of local farmers, food stands and artisans.  After grabbing coffee from Methodical Coffee (which also supplies the coffee for The Harbinger here in Chucktown), we strolled through the market, enjoying the (relatively) cool temperatures and grabbing a few bites from several of the vendors.  The local peaches were out of this world, and the bread and pastries from the Swamp Rabbit Café were delicious.  We fought over the last few bites of a blueberry scone and had to restrain ourselves from devouring an entire loaf of stecca (an incredible Italian bread brushed with sea salt and olive oil) on the spot.  We haven’t yet made it to the brick-and-mortar Swamp Rabbit Café, but it’s at the top of our list for our next trip.


Vault & Vator

On Saturday night, we got a babysitter and headed out on the town for a few hours.  Our first stop was Vault & Vator, a new speakeasy-style cocktail bar hidden in the West End.  This was our kind of place: great drinks, knowledgeable bartenders, no TVs and no standing allowed!  They also had a no-cell phone policy that we respected, so we don’t have any photos of our drinks – but our expertly-drafted rosé negroni and Hemingway daiquiri tasted as good as they looked (which is to say absolutely incredible!).  V&V is a little too pricey to be an everyday spot, but it was the perfect starting point for our adults-only evening.

The Lazy Goat

Our absolute favorite restaurant in Greenville closed about ten days before our trip (RIP, American Grocery!), so we decided to try The Lazy Goat, another of the city’s classic spots.  We were lucky enough to get a window table overlooking the Reedy River, but unfortunately we were underwhelmed by our dining experience.  We decided against the appetizer-entrée-dessert approach and instead ordered six share plates from the Mediterranean-themed menu: serrano ham, fried goat cheese, crispy Brussels sprouts, toasted garlic shrimp, Moroccan lamb, and goat cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers ($9-10 each).

Perhaps we should have been more specific with our server, but we assumed the dishes would come out one or two at a time.  Instead, three of the six appeared at our table five minutes after we ordered (and before our wine arrived), with the other three following only a few minutes later.  Not only did this result in us eating a lot of lukewarm food, it made us wonder how much of the food was pre-made versus cooked to order.  While several of the plates were quite tasty (the piquillo peppers and Brussels sprouts were particular favorites), the lack of pacing made it hard to truly enjoy them.  Maybe we hit The Lazy Goat on an off night or our expectations were too high, but we won’t be back the next time we are in town.

Crispy Brussels sprouts, Moroccan lamb and fried boat cheese

Tupelo Honey Café

For Sunday brunch, we considered braving the lines at Biscuit Head for another fried chicken biscuit but decided on a sit-down brunch instead.  Happily, Tupelo Honey Café offered the best of both worlds: complimentary biscuits and blueberry jam, plus a full menu of (mostly) Southern favorites.

The “red flannel” hash, with salt-roasted beets, herbed potato cracklins, two fried eggs, horseradish crema and onions was an interesting but tasty take on a hash.  The potatoes were cooked to perfection, with a great crunchy exterior yielding to a meltingly soft interior.  The eggs were perfectly over easy, but we quickly destroyed them to allow the runny yolk to mix into the entire dish.  The horseradish crema was a nice touch, but we would have appreciated a lighter hand when it was being applied; several bites had an unpleasant amount of kick and tasted of little beside the dressing.

We also enjoyed the avocado toast & eggs.  Under a heaping portion of avocado, farmer’s cheese, Aleppo pepper and a red chili honey drizzle, the toast was hardy enough to withstand its toppings but not so dense that it overpowered the other flavors.



We left Greenville very sweaty, very full and very satisfied.  We’ll be back soon to taste more of what this beautiful upstate city has to offer!


Biscuit Head website
823 South Church Street, Greenville, SC
Open daily for breakfast and lunch

Passerelle Bistro website
601 South Main Street, Greenville, SC
Open daily for lunch and dinner (brunch weekends)

Greenville Saturday Market website
Main Street at McBeen Avenue
2017 Season: Saturdays 8am-12pm until October 28

Vault & Vator website
655 South Main Street, Greenville, SC
Open Tuesday-Saturday from 5pm; closed Sunday & Monday

The Lazy Goat website
170 River Street, Greenville, SC
Open Monday-Saturday for lunch & dinner; closed Sunday

Tupelo Honey Café website
1 North Main Street, Greenville, SC
Open daily for lunch and dinner (brunch weekends)







Tepache Time

If you forced us to choose one drink for the rest of our lives (please don’t!), it would be red wine, hands down.  From simple mass-market bottles on our weekly pizza-and-Netflix night to beautiful, earthy Burgundies to accompany a fancy French meal, red wine is our jam.  That said, as the mercury starts creeping higher and higher in Charleston every spring, we find ourselves looking for something a bit crisper and colder.  Often that’s white or rosé (what can we say, we love our wine!), but we’re always on the lookout for new options – so when, on the hottest day of the year so far, Tyler came across a Bon Appétit video about a fermented Mexican pineapple drink called tepache, it seemed like a perfect time to broaden our horizons!


Tepache (pronounced tuh-PAH-chay) is a popular summertime agua fresca on the streets of Mexico, where it is often homemade and served in large plastic bags wrapped around a drinking straw. Very lightly alcoholic (usually 1-2% ABV), it is made by fermenting pineapple rinds, piloncillo (unprocessed cane sugar) and spices for 2-3 days before being consumed.  It can also be bottled and sent through a secondary fermentation, which will produce a carbonated version.

tepache bag
Image Source:

Following the Bon Appétit recipe, we fermented our first batch of tepache using whole pineapples instead of the rinds only.  The pineapple’s skin plays host to its own source of natural yeast, which allows the beverage to self-ferment without introducing additional yeast.  The pineapples are mixed together with piloncillo (if you can’t find it, you can use dark brown sugar and it will still turn out great), cinnamon, a habanero chile and water before being left to ferment.  After three days of resting in a warm, dark closet, the tepache will be ready to be sipped on its own or enjoyed in a summery cocktail.

To get more bang for your buck, you can easily make a second batch of tepache once your first batch has been strained off of the fruit and spices in your fermenting jar.  Simply top off the jar with water and add 1-2 tablespoons of additional sugar to reinvigorate the yeast.  At the end of the experiment, we ended up with a little over three liters of tepache to enjoy over the coming days and weeks.

If you prefer a bit of fizz in your drink, you can bottle your tepache and send it back to the closet to carbonate during a secondary fermentation of 24-36 hours.  A word of warning: our first batch underwent a 48-hour secondary fermentation and was so strongly carbonated that opening the bottle was like unleashing a geyser in our kitchen sink – so we would recommend definitely maxing out your secondary at 36 hours.

FullSizeRender (2)
After secondary fermentation but before the geyser!

Tepache is great on its own over ice, but it’s also a refreshing mixer if you’d prefer something a bit stronger.  So far, we’ve enjoyed it mixed with Corona in a spicy homemade michelada, on the rocks with a splash of Diplomatico rum or Espolon blanco tequila and as a substitute for plain pineapple juice in piña colada.  Whatever your pleasure, tepache gives you the makings of a fantastic tropical drink – just add your favorite spirit and a bit of ice, put on some Jimmy Buffet, and enjoy!  Salud!

Tepache Recipe


  • A large, fermentation grade glass vessel with a flip top lid
  • Two 1-liter fermentation grade glass bottles
  • A wide mouth funnel
  • A muddling stick, or something that can break down the pineapple in the jar (we used a rolling pin stood on end)
  • A mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth


  • 2 large whole pineapples (preferably organic)
  • 1 cup piloncillo or dark brown sugar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 habanero or other chile (optional)
  • Water to fill the vessel

Begin by removing the top and bottom of each pineapple, being sure to leave the skin on the pineapple.  It is very important that the pineapple remain unwashed as to not remove the naturally occurring yeast on its skin (hence our recommendation for organic!).  Split the pineapple in quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into 1” wide triangles.

If using a chile, split it lengthwise (do not remove seeds or membranes) and add to the jar along with the cinnamon and piloncillo/brown sugar.

Add approximately 1.5 cups of water to the jar, close the lid and shake vigorously to dissolve the sugar.

Add the pineapple chunks to the jar and then fill until 1” of space remains in the jar.  Since this is a fermented beverage, it is critical to leave room at the top of the jar as the fermentation will produce carbon dioxide – not doing so can cause the vessel to explode upon opening due to the buildup of pressure due to fermentation.

Cap the jar, secure the lid and place in a warm, dark environment for 2-3 days.  Check daily to ensure that white foam is gathering on top of the liquid, which means that your tepache has begun fermenting.

After three days, carefully open the lid of the jar and skim off any foam that has accumulated.  Pass the tepache through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.

At this point, the tepache can be consumed right away.  If you would prefer a carbonated tepache, bottle it and stash it away for a secondary fermentation of 24-36 hours.  Once complete, re-bottle and refrigerate.