The Best of the Upstate 2017: How You Should Vote for Food & Drink Part 3

BOTU17

It’s the final part of how you should vote for The Best of the Upstate 2017.  If you have missed the other two parts, you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.  Click here to vote in The Best of the Upstate, but not until after you’ve read what you should vote for.  Here are the final categories.

Best Mexican

  • Papa’s and Beer
  • Mr. Salsa Mexican Restaurant
  • Chuy’s
  • Willy Taco – Feed & Seed
  • La Parrilla Mexican Restaurant

VOTE FOR PAPA’S AND BEER OR MR. SALSA

Fonda Rosalinda and La Reata should be on this list and one of them should win, but alas.  Chuy’s and La Parrilla are chains.  I like Willy Taco, but I don’t consider it to be Mexican, more Mexican-fusion.  Papa’s and Beer, while having multiple restaurants, only has four and they’re all in the Upstate or Western North Carolina.  Mr. Salsa is also local.  Either one winning is fine by me with the choices given.

Best Milkshake

  • Grill Marks
  • Cook Out
  • Steak ‘n Shake
  • Sonic Drive-In
  • Chick-Fil-A

VOTE FOR COOK OUT

So we have Grill Marks and four chains.  Grill Marks can’t get my vote if a vanilla milkshake costs $6.  Even with their fancy ones costing $10, I can’t justify that price.  Cook Out is a regional chain that has 40 flavors of milkshake.  Did you also know you can just mix and match the flavors which gives THOUSANDS of combinations.  They’re also under $3 for whatever milkshake you get.  So they win, despite their chain-ness.

Best Pizza

  • Mellow Mushroom
  • Bertolo’s Pizza
  • Merrell’s Pizzeria
  • Sidewall Pizza Co.
  • Tito’s Restaurant Pizzeria

VOTE FOR TITO’S RESTAURANT PIZZERIA

Mellow Mushroom, while a chain, was also in the Gourmet Pizza category along with Merrell’s and Sidewall.  You can’t be both Gourmet Pizza and Regular Pizza.  Sorry.  And Sidewall’s “regular” pizza is about the same price as their gourmet pies.  That’s a no go.  I love Tito’s.  I think it’s the best pizza, gourmet or not, in the whole Upstate.

Best Restaurant for Vegetarians

  • Southern Pressed Juicery
  • Swad Restaurant
  • Yard House
  • Chicora Alley
  • Pita House

VOTE FOR ANYONE BUT YARD HOUSE OR SOUTHERN PRESSED JUICERY

Yard House is a chain and juicing is expensive and dumb.  Vegetarians are not living their best life with a plant based diet.  This category bores me.

Best Romantic Restaurant

  • Trattoria Giorgio
  • The Melting Pot
  • Halls Chophouse
  • Stella’s Southern Bistro
  • Larkin’s on the River
  • The Peddler Steakhouse

VOTE FOR HALLS CHOPHOUSE

The Melting Pot is a chain.  The Peddler doesn’t take reservations for small parties, so you could be spending two hours of your romantic night waiting.  A nice view helps on a romantic evening, so the nice view of strip malls and traffic does in Stella’s.  This comes down to Trattoria Giorgio, Halls, and Larkin’s.  Everything else being equal, Trattoria Giorgio isn’t on the river like Halls and Larkin’s.  Between the two steakhouses, Halls is superior in every way.

Best Sandwich

  • Sub Station II
  • Sully’s Steamers
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs
  • Inky’s Authentic Philadelphia Cheesesteaks and Hoagies
  • Groucho’s Deli

VOTE FOR INKY’S AUTHENTIC PHILADELPHIA CHEESESTEAKS AND HOAGIES

Sub Station II and Jersey Mike’s are chains.  Groucho’s while a very regional chain, has good sandwiches, but not great ones.  Sully’s does a good job with their bagel sandwiches, but I don’t get cravings for Sully’s like I do Inky’s.  When you make a craveable sandwich, you know it’s something special.

Best Seafood

  • Harbor Inn Seafood Restaurant 
  • Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar
  • Red Lobster
  • Silver Bay Seafood
  • Bimini’s Oyster Bar and Seafood
  • Rick Erwin’s Nantucket Seafood Restaurant

VOTE FOR BIMINI’S OYSTER BAR AND SEAFOOD

Red Lobster is a huge chain that has mediocre seafood.  Harbor Inn, Silver Bay, and Shuckin’ Shack are all regional chains.  This leaves Bimini’s and Nantucket.  Bimini’s does have another outpost in Myrtle Beach, but two locations does not a chain make.  Bimini’s wins as they have seafood at a price that people can eat there regularly and not just once a year like at Nantucket.

Best Shrimp and Grits

  • Sassafras Southern Bistro
  • Bleu VooDoo Grill
  • Southern Culture Kitchen and Bar
  • Stella’s Southern Bistro
  • Soby’s New South Cuisine

VOTE FOR ANY OF THE 5

Ford’s used to have the best shrimp and grits in town but its owner decided to put too much money into a pub in a bad location that lasted a short time.  All of these are local places and if you like one over the other, go for it.  I’d vote for Southern Culture just because I go there the most.

Best Soul Food

  • OJ’s Diner
  • Grandma’s Kitchen
  • The Lost Cajun
  • Zamorah’s
  • Southern Culture Kitchen and Bar
  • M&J’s Wings & Plenty
  • Dr. Mac Arnold’s Blues Restaurant

VOTE FOR ANYONE BUT THE LOST CAJUN

The Lost Cajun is a chain.  Every other one is local and you can pick your favorite.  I’d, once again, vote for Southern Culture, but that’s because it’s the only one of the list that I frequent.

Best Sports Bar

  • Local Cue
  • Carolina Ale House
  • Twin Peaks
  • Wild Wing Cafe
  • The Coliseum Sports Bar
  • Mac’s Speed Shop

VOTE FOR LOCAL CUE

Ale House is horrible and a chain.  Twin Peaks, Wild Wings, and Mac’s are all chains.  Local Cue is local, has a great space, and good food.  They win.

Best Steak

  • Halls Chophouse
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Longhorn Steakhouse
  • Rick Erwin’s West End Grille
  • The Peddler Steakhouse

VOTE FOR HALLS CHOPHOUSE

The people that think Texas Roadhouse and Longhorn have the best steak need to get out more.  Halls has some of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten.  They offer so many cuts, both wet and dry aged beef, of top quality meat brought in from Chicago.  The Peddler and Rick Erwin’s are good, but Halls is next level.

Best Sunday Brunch

  • Nose Dive
  • Southern Culture Kitchen and Bar
  • Roost Restaurant
  • Tupelo Honey Cafe
  • Soby’s New South Cuisine

VOTE FOR SOUTHERN CULTURE KITCHEN AND BAR

Roost and Tupelo Honey (LOW KEY CHAIN!) are two of the most completely overrated restaurants downtown.  I like Soby’s buffet and Nose Dive has an interest brunch menu, except for that grit bar that people seem to love, but I don’t think it’s that great.  Southern Culture has so many items for brunch that I want to eat every single time I’m there, I have a hard time choosing.  Grandma’s Revenge, poutine, The Hippie Bowl, everything is good.  The wait for brunch on Sunday is two hours regularly for a reason.

Best Sushi

  • Irashiai Sushi Pub & Japanese Restaurant
  • Takosushi
  • Tsunami Sushi Restaurant
  • Otto Izakaya
  • Sushi Masa Japanese Restaurant
  • Purple International Sushi Bistro

VOTE FOR IRASHIAI SUSHI PUB & JAPANESE RESTAURANT

Irashiai has so many specialty rolls, it’s insane.  They can do the regular rolls like spicy tuna or Philadelphia, but rolls like the Punky Brewster or Fat Tire are where they really shine.  Their happy hour sushi specials are great too.

Best Sweet Tea

  • McDonald’s
  • Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits
  • McAlisters Deli
  • Stax’s Original Restaurant
  • Chick-Fil-A

VOTE FOR STAX’S ORIGINAL RESTAURANT

It’s the only non-chain.

Best Thai/Vietnamese Restaurant

  • Thai Restaurant
  • Bangkok Tokyo Restaurant
  • Kannika’s Thai Kitchen
  • Lemongrass Thai Restaurant
  • Mekong Restaurant
  • Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine

VOTE FOR THAI RESTAURANT

All of the Thai restaurants listed are good.  Thai Restaurant is great and the best of them all.  Mekong is great as well.  I go to Thai Restaurant more than Mekong, so they get my vote.  If this was just a Vietnamese category, Mekong would win no question.

Best Uptown Restaurant

  • The Anchorage
  • The Lost Cajun
  • Willy Taco
  • The Flat
  • CityRange Steakhouse Grill
  • Saskatoon Steakhouse
  • Chophouse ’47
  • Stella’s Southern Bistro
  • The Cheesecake Factory

VOTE FOR THE ANCHORAGE

Someone needs to either have a definition of uptown or break this off into different neighborhoods and give them each their own category.  Out of all of these, disregarding Cheesecake Factory and The Lost Cajun completely, The Anchorage is the one pushing the boundaries of food and the idea of a restaurant in Greenville.

Best Wait Staff

  • Inky’s Authentic Philadelphia Cheesesteaks and Hoagies
  • Halls Chophouse
  • Stella’s Southern Bistro
  • The Anchorage
  • Chuy’s

VOTE FOR HALLS CHOPHOUSE

Halls has the best wait staff, easily.  If you have a special occasion, they make sure you feel special.  If something is wrong, they fix it.  No detail is too small for them.

Best Wine Selection Bar/Restaurant

  • Northampton Wines
  • BIN 112
  • Soby’s
  • Halls Chophouse
  • Sip Whiskey & Wine Bar

VOTE FOR ANY OF THE 5

I usually just order cheap stuff.  They’re all local so actual oenophiles will have a better idea of what’s the best and what’s not.

Best Winery/Vineyard

  • Victoria Valley Vineyards
  • City Scape Winery
  • Parker-Binns Vineyard
  • Burntshirt Vineyards
  • Biltmore Estate Winery

VOTE FOR VICTORIA VALLEY VINEYARDS OR CITY SCAPE WINERY

Those are the only two listed wineries/vineyards that are actually in the Upstate.  The rest are in North Carolina.  THAT’S NOT THE UPSTATE.

 

That’s it!  Once again, for the rest of the categories check out Part 1 and Part 2 and don’t forget to go vote!

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