Five Unique Foods to Eat in Greenville, SC

Fried, fried and more fried probably comes to mind when you think of southern food, maybe with a side of mayo. And yes, just about anything fried tastes good, case in point: the fried pickle. Look a little deeper, though, and you'll see there's more to food in Greenville, South Carolina than a perfectly crispy batter. South Carolina is not only the self-proclaimed birthplace of barbecue, it also has a long-standing local food tradition. Enjoy these authentic southern comfort foods to discover the heart - or stomach, rather - of Greenville.

South Carolina Barbecue.
Definitely, the barbecue. Different than North Carolina, Texas or Memphis-style barbecue, South Carolina 'cue has a flavor all it's own. It's all about the the tangy, spicy mustard-based sauce. It's addictive, especially if you're a mustard lover. If mustard isn't your thing, South Carolina is home to the four sauces - mustard (as discussed), light tomato, heavy tomato, and vinegar. There's something for everyone, and they're all delicious. Every single one of them. Check out Henry's Smokehouse for traditional low and slow pulled pork and the best mac 'n cheese, ever. Or go to Roots Smokehouse for a killer smoked protein plate and side dishes like creole slaw or Oaxacan beans.

Boiled Peanuts.
Best purchased and eaten on the side of the road, boiled peanuts are the official snack food of South Carolina. No, really, there's a law for that. Green peanuts are boiled in salty water for a decidedly savory flavor and soft texture that is, in fact, ideal for snacking. Now, boiled peanuts do not sound appetizing, but they are. Perhaps it's the name. Maybe it should be changed to Snacky Nuts, or something of the like, for marketing purposes. Nonetheless, try it, and you will not be sorry. And the boiled nuts have four times the antioxidants as raw nuts. So, no excuses; it's good for you. For those with more refined taste buds, order up the Boiled Peanut Hummus at Soby's.

Pimento Cheese.
To taste the most authentic homemade pimento cheese in Greenville, find the closest grandma and invite yourself over for lunch. This classic southern staple combines cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and of course, pimentos, to create creamy spreadable goodness. Spread it on crackers, celery, or make a cute little sandwich. Everyone's pimento cheese recipe varies slightly, and although nothing can top granny's recipe, there are a few spots in town that get pretty close. At Southern Culture, the dip is served smeared over tater tots which is almost too much to comprehend in thought and is just as amazing in taste. For a good traditional version, try Tupelo Honey's "caviar of the south," ya'll.

If images of peaches has Georgia on your mind, think again. South Carolina heads up all the southern states on peach production, and is rumored to grow the tastier peach as well. Peach cobbler served with ice cream, pickled peaches with a tang, or simple fresh peaches (fuzz and all), it's all good. There's plenty of peaches to go around, but head to one of the local farmer's markets in the summer for the best selection. Both the TD Saturday Market in downtown Greenville and the Traveler's Rest Farmer's Market are prime spots.

Banana Pudding.
Now onto dessert. What could possibly be bad about vanilla wafers, whipped cream, and sliced bananas? Well, maybe the calorie count, but that's another story. The best in town hands down is American Grocery for its inventive take on the dish and depth of banana flavor. For the less fancy version, head back to Henry's. Order it by the pint, because one serving is never enough.

Greenville is no place to let your tummy rumble in hunger. From the official state snack to the birthplace of barbecue, there is some seriously finger-lickin' South Carolina food to try in the Upstate.

Jannan Poppen is an educator and freelance writer in Greenville, SC. She's an explorer at heart and will try just about anything once.