By: Amanda Thomas
Asheville, New York, and Los Angeles are some of the most famous cities in the country for their impeccable and hip cuisine. While Anderson, SC might not be ‘on the map’ for the best city to eat at in South Carolina, any Anderson native can tell you that there’s nothing like our food. After recently moving forty minutes north of my hometown, I am surrounded by an endless array of local eateries…but nothing beats Anderson in my heart. In no particular order, this is my list of top 10 must eat at restaurants in Anderson
- JC’s Sandwich Shoppe
JC’s is an Anderson favorite known for their tasty sandwiches, fries…and bird dogs. If you’re not from Anderson, you probably don’t know what a bird dog is, and I can go ahead and tell you that you are missing out on some seriously good eating. A classic bird dog is a hot dog bun dressed with chicken fingers, bacon, cheddar cheese, and honey mustard. JC’s offers a variety of bird dogs with differing cheeses and sauces, but nothing can touch that classic bird dog and the perfection that is their honey mustard. Some other great eats at JC’s are their loaded potato soup, fried green tomato BLT, cheeseburgers, or you can explore something new with their daily specials menu! The food and the relaxed atmosphere make JC’s one of my favorites and the perfect place to grab lunch with a friend.
- Mama Penn’s
As a southerner, nothing is better after a long day then sitting down at the dinner table with family enjoying a meat and three, with cornbread on the side. If mom or grandma doesn’t feel up for cooking, Mama Penn’s is the place to go! Everything from fried chicken to beef stew to turkey and dressing (on Thursdays) adorns the menu at this perfect comfort food spot. Once you’ve selected your meat you have your choice of three of the daily vegetables, which typically has the classics like mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans. The prices are good and the food is even better at Mama Penn’s, and don’t worry about making plans after your meal…I can all but guarantee you’re going to be in need of a mid-afternoon nap.
- The Corner Bagel Shop
Known to most simply as ‘The Bagel Shop”, this is the perfect breakfast place for any appetite. The variety of homemade bagels on display at this quant shop can tempt any craving whether salty or sweet. Seasonal bagels like pumpkin are great to snag while they are there, or you can grab something a little more classic like an everything or blueberry. Then comes the bagel toppings…you can go with one of their many cream cheeses or something more adventurous like (my personal favorite) a ten-zero bagel, which is a sesame seed bagel with scallion cream cheese, bacon, and tomato slices. Not a bagel person but somehow ended up in a bagel shop? No worries! You can get a breakfast plate with meat eggs and toast or go for one of their AH-MAZING chocolate chip muffins. (If you go for the muffin, have them grill it-don’t ask questions) If you’re an Anderson native but have never been to the bagel shop, go ahead and tell you’re boss you might be late tomorrow and go try ‘The best bagels south of the big apple!”
Some of my fondest childhood memories include eating a skins hotdog with my parents, brother, and grandparents. Skins is now a chain in the upstate region, but began in Anderson with the Thrasher family’s desire to create a relaxed environment and delicious hotdogs. Whether you’re getting it plain, with chili, no onions, or all the way you cant find a better hotdog than a skins hotdog. A wild cherry Pepsi, Lays BBQ chips, and a slice of chocolate pound cake make skins a great meal whether or not you’re getting it to go or stopping in for a quick bite between errands.
- Sake Zen (AKA Tokyo Bay)
Some people are not sushi people, however I am THE sushi person. Fried sushi, raw sushi, sushi with tuna, sushi with salmon; doesn’t matter I just love sushi, and this is my go-to sushi place whenever I am home. Sake Zen is a fabulous lakefront restaurant to go for a dinner date or if you’re having a girls night out. My “usual” consists of a bowl of miso soup, a firecracker roll (spicy tuna, crab, cream cheese, avocado, and deep fried with spicy mayo and hot sauce), and glass of their house champagne. How much do I pay for this elegant meal? Just over fifteen dollars! Finding good sushi is half the work, finding affordable-good sushi is the ultimate package!
- Masters Wok
Another one of my biggest personal cravings is Chinese food. Now I can appreciate a good take-out restaurant, but there is nothing I love more than being able to sit down in a welcoming environment and enjoy my Chinese food hot from the kitchen. Masters Wok is my absolute favorite Chinese restaurant in Anderson, mainly because of the amazing deals they offer. Their main deal is the “all day special” where you can order an appetizer (egg
roll, chicken wing, wonton, or egg drop soup), and an entrée for one set price! I’m slightly ashamed to say that I have never frayed from my fixed order of “all day special-egg roll-sesame chicken,”but it is just that good.Another great
thing about the all day special is
that you will almost always have leftovers…can you say midnight snack?
- Earle Street Kitchen and Bar
The place formerly known as Tavern Under the Bridge has completely transformed itself into one of the most happening places in downtown Anderson. Whether you’re meeting a friend for a quick martini or wanting to sit down for some fried green tomatoes and chicken and waffles…you cannot go wrong with Earle Street. During my senior year of college my friends and I loved being able to walk into Earle Street and have them call us by our name and have our order ready for us in a matter of minutes. Aside from the artistically scrumptious cuisine and friendly staff, Earle Street has the BEST environment for any occasion. Just wanting to hang by the bar or sit down in a cozy booth-just walk right in to the main restaurant area and enjoy! Through a doorway to the right you will find a gorgeous private room perfect for a large dinner group or an engagement party! Towards the back of the main restaurant area you will find a door that leads outside to a porch-like space right under the downtown bridge. Even catering to holidays you can enjoy a brunch buffet on days like Easter and Mother’s Day or just enjoy their usual brunch menu on any Sunday.
- Summa Joes
Fresh, made from scratch pizza…is there anything better? Summa Joes has a medley of pizza options that cater to any picky appetite all titled with their own unique name. The Bob Marley, Eye of the Tiger, Greek Pie (my favorite), The Cheesiest Cheese, and Cheeseburger in Paradise are just a few of the selections you will find on their menu under specialty pizzas. Even if you aren’t feeling pizza, Summa Joes has delectable sandwiches and specialty dishes like shrimp and grits that are perfect for sitting outside on Main Street enjoying the summer air.
- El Jimador Viejo
It has been proven in studies that cheese might be addictive, and if that’s the case then queso is my drug of choice. El Jimador Viejo off Highway 81 is my favorite place for fajitas, queso, and margaritas! Once you walk in the door you almost forget that you’re in Anderson and are transported to an off the beaten path restaurant in Puerto Vallarta. The menu is adorned with all of the classic Mexican dishes as well as some in-house specialty dishes like the mouthwatering Pollo Grande dish, which includes grilled chicken breast topped with grilled mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and cheese dip, rice, beans, and tortillas. (YUM!) El Jimador Viejo has ridiculously quick service and the best Mexican food in town!
- McGee’s Irish Pub
McGee’s is a place I did not fully discover and appreciate until my high school years but has become a second home for myself and my group of friends. Traditional Irish dishes such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips are perfect for the adventurous eater looking for something more than another chicken fingerplate. The beer cheese soup is so mouthwatering good that I have commented to numerous waiters and waitresses that they could ‘just bring me out the whole pot and a spoon’. Looking beyond the food, McGee’s is a great mixture of a fun but relaxed environment. One Monday a month they host a three course wine pairing, Tuesday’s half-price fish and chips, Wednesday’s team trivia, Thursday half-price bottles of wine, and Friday-Saturday live music. Almost every day of the week there is some sort of fun or deal available at McGee’s for you and your friends to enjoy the food and culture of a foreign land.
The wonderfully talented Julia Child once said, “It’s fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That’s what human life is all about-enjoying things.” Similarly to Julia, I too like getting together with friends and family and enjoying a great meal. Anderson might not be marked by the Food Network just yet, but these places hold a special place both in my heart and my stomach.
Want to learn more yourself? Check out the restaurant website or Facebook page below!