Greenville, South Carolina, holds its own as a midsized southern foodie city. We may not be Charleston or even Asheville, but there’s plenty of excellent food to be had across a wide spectrum of styles and price points.
Most “Best food in Greenville” lists and articles focus on indulgent, outlandish fare. That’s the kind of food that makes for the best pictures and the most memorable experiences, after all. But not everyone is looking to load up on carbs, fat and sugar every time they go out. Many who visit the area do so for the numerous outdoor opportunities or the Hincapie cycling scene. And even if you’re not into fitness, let’s be honest: sometimes you just want a salad!
So here’s a list for the less indulgent crowd living in or visiting Greenville: Here are five of the best places in Greenville to get a fantastic salad.
Rick’s Deli and Market
Pictured: Rick’s Deli and Market fills a strategic lower price tier in the otherwise high-end Rick Erwin Restaurant Group.
You can’t go far in Greenville without coming across a Rick Erwin restaurant, and most of them are high-end affairs (think pricey steak and seafood). Local restauranteur Rick Erwin has just one more casual establishment in his family of restaurants. Rick’s Deli and Market sits in a decidedly more approachable price tier, with sandwiches and salads in the $9 to $13 range.
In addition to salads and sandwiches, you won’t want to miss the cases full of cold prepared salads and delicious baked goods.
Dinner at Rick’s Deli and Market is a slightly more upscale affair, but it’s still far more approachable than the other restaurants in the family. Currently, the deli is offering rotating daily dinner specials, like the Crab Cakes Dinner for Two or the Blackened Chicken Alfredo Dinner for Two, which (at the time of writing, anyway) includes a bottle of house wine, Caesar salad and a peach crisp.
The approach at Rick’s Deli and Market can be summed up in their slogan, “A deli for downtown.” It’s deli food, but elevated to cater to the tastes of the downtown crowd. A selection of beers and wines is available for lunch, happy hour or dinner. In short, it’s deli done well.
Top Salad Picks: you really can’t go wrong here. Rick’s Chopped Salad is an elevated yet hearty take on a classic chopped romaine salad, and the Santa Fe Salad is fantastic (especially when you add chicken or shrimp).
There are two kinds of restaurants inside hotels. There’s the mediocre-at-best, “we know you don’t have any other options” hotel restaurant. And then there’s the award-winning, innovative kind of hotel restaurant, the kind that makes you want to stay at its host hotel over and over.
You can likely guess which category Roost Restaurant falls into (hint: it’s the good one). Roost is one of the best parts of Greenville’s downtown Hyatt in NOMA Square and certainly one of the best restaurants on the north end of Main Street.
With an extensive elevated patio and a unique custom indoor space, Roost is a visual feast, not to mention a gastronomic one. And you can make the experience your own. One visit can be a budget-minded soup, salad and sandwich affair, while the next could step up into the $20-to-$30 entrée tier.
The menu changes frequently, so if you’re a repeat Greenville visitor, you could have a new experience each time.
Top Salad Picks: The current iteration of the menu has just three salads to choose from. The Broccoli Caesar is a unique twist on a classic, with pine nuts, broccoli and focaccia croutons. Turn it into a protein-rich entrée by adding a chargrilled chimichurri flat iron steak or a chargrilled chicken breast. The Wedge is also a spin on the classic wedge salad, featuring corn smoked bacon, a unique bleu cheese vinaigrette and pickled onions.
Sidewall Pizza Company
Pictured: The Cleveland Street location in downtown sits in a converted old-school gas station.
What on earth is a pizza restaurant doing in this review? Holding its own, that’s what. Sidewall Pizza Company makes, without question, some of the best and most exciting salads in town. Sidewall would be worth a visit even if their pizza were terrible. Which, let’s be clear, it’s not. Sidewall was my top pizza pick as well.
Sidewall has only existed since around 2015 and, in a very short span, has expanded to six locations. You can get your Sidewall fix in two Greenville locations as well as Travelers Rest, Clemson, Spartanburg and Simpsonville.
What makes their salads special? The combination of ingredients and unique, house-made dressings is just something special, not what you’d expect at your average pizzeria. My first couple visits, I thought when reading the salad descriptions, “I’m not sure why that would work.” But do they ever work!
If you need a little more protein in your diet, you can add any of the pizza proteins to any salad. The prosciutto usually works quite well.
To pair with your salads (or pizzas), you can get some tremendous small-batch fountain sodas, beer or wine. Local, regional and independent brewers are represented well here. Oh, and there’s house-made ice cream for dessert, too!
Top Salad Picks: Two stand above the rest for me. The Smoky Salad, featuring smoky roasted corn and roasted broccoli, grape tomatoes, red onion, goat cheese and smoky candied walnuts atop organic spring mix, is my go-to. The basil dressing takes it out of this world. My second recommendation is the Roasted Salad. I don’t know why roasted shaved Brussels sprouts and roasted butternut squash work on top of massaged kale, but the combination is nearly magical. Their seasonal selection is usually worth trying, too.
Green Fetish is a lesson in irony: the restaurant leased space that formerly belonged to a failed burger chain. What was once a greasy restaurant with a sort of automotive/industrial in feel got several coats of white and green paint, and now it’s a health food joint.
Green Fetish serves organic, all-natural products that are “local when available”. The restaurant prides itself in serving non-gmo, gluten-free, vegan and carnivore friendly, allergen friendly, sustainable cuisine. Phew, that’s a mouthful! The point is you can — and will — feel good eating at Green Fetish.
The menu is made up of grain bowls, green bowls (otherwise known as salads), smoothies and smoothie bowls, gluten-free toasts (of the avocado variety), and superfood lattes.
Top Salad Picks: High Steaks is a menagerie of flavors that starts with lemony rocket and romaine, which are topped with grass-fed steak, heirloom cherry tomatoes, red onion, bacon, goat cheese and chia seeds, all dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. The Veganism is an explosion of flavor as well, with sweet gochujang tofu and spicy roasted chickpeas.
Green Lettuce USA
Here’s a quick bonus recommendation. Green Lettuce USA is a small café serving Persian and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Located in downtown’s West End, Green Lettuce doesn’t have a website (but you can order online).
Top Salad Picks: Unless you’re deep into Persian cuisine, you’ve probably never had anything like their Fresh Dates Salad or their Kuku Sabzi Salad, both great tastes worth trying.