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GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA: EUPHORIA MEANS FOOD, WINE & MUSIC
Were just back from another taste of an event in Greenville, South Carolina, called Euphoria -- and we just cant say (or write) enough about this world-class food-, wine-, and music-focused weekend.
Everyone attending (in record numbers) agreed this was the best Euphoria helping in its history. An informal survey of foodie attendees and local and visiting chefs, wineries, and musicians found downtown Greenville to be an ideal location.
With chefs in whites, wine distributors with cases of wine, and musicians with instruments all roaming the streets from Friday to Sunday, the Euphoria schedule was packed with events to suit any taste in food, wine, or music. Highlights from this year have to include: Taste of the South opening night, with southern tastes from talented Upcountry chefs and a packed concert by superstar local rocker done good Edwin McCain (check out our short concert video here); a day of cooking demos hosted by Virginia Willis, along with a Grand Wine Tasting and several well-attended wine seminars; sold-out wine dinners at a half-dozen downtown restaurants where local star chefs were paired with visiting star chefs (like Guy Savoy, Frank Stitt, the Rathbun brothers, Scott Crawford, Michael Kramer, David Guas, and many more); and a scrumptious Sunday brunch with jazz, competitive cook-offs, and spiritual concoctions from Firefly Distillery, the makers of super-hot Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. There were also after-parties attended by chefs, wine geeks, foodies, and musicians, including a ticketed one Friday night at a great downtown venue called Zen.
Quite simply, Euphoria is yet another reason to head to downtown Greenville. In less than 25 years, South Carolinas downtown Greenville has gone from decidedly derelict to tasteful and tasty. Nationally-recognized revitalization efforts brought Main Street and environs back from the dead, with world-class culture, varied activities, superb shopping, and a flavorful dining scene unmatched by many much larger downtown areas across the country.
The spectacular Falls Park on the Reedy offers a stunning curved pedestrian bridge to take in all the city views and two amphitheaters Other downtown highlights include Heritage Green (including the Museum & Gallery at Heritage Green, Upcountry History Museum, Greenville County Museum of Art, and Greenville Little Theatre), cutting-edge performances and more at Centre Stage and Warehouse Theatre, South Carolina Childrens Theatre, and a great baseball stadium for the local Greenville Drive.
Downtown shopping reigns supreme at locally-owned and -operated shops like Plaza Suite (ask about locally-designed Beija Flor jeans and colorful Coast Pawleys Island polos), Talloni (look for Brianna handbags from local Brianna Krebsbach), Michelin On Main (Michelins first trademark retail store), The Cooks Station, and Mast General Store (think upscale mountain-lifestyle clothes and accessories--this is South Carolinas Upcountry after all).
For both locals and visitors, one of the most obvious differences in downtown is the dining scene. Credit for making downtown Greenville so tasty has to go to Carl Sobocinski and David Williams, who opened Sobys in 1997 when downtown Greenville was practically a dining desert. Their Table 301 now has four downtown dining hotspots and local boy done good Carl founded Euphoria with Edwin McCain (proceeds go to a great charity called Local Boys Done Good).
Whether its a creative meal at one of local Table 301s empire (including Sobys, Devereauxs, The Lazy Goat, and Sobys on the Side), upscale lowcountry fare at High Cotton Maverick Bar & Grill, sophisticated steaks and more at Larkins on the River or Rick Erwins, zesty kebabs at Persian-styled Pomegranate, or a farm-to-table extravaganza at American Grocery Restaurant, the downtown restaurant scene has taken Greenville dining up a notch. Look for Calicaro wines on several local wine lists -- especially boutique California pinot noirs being bottled by a local attorney.
A variety of downtown hotels makes it easy to park the car once and not see it again until youre (sadly) heading home. Edwin McCain calls the Hampton Inn (overlooking Reedy Falls) the best in the nation and we agree. Theres also the renovated Westin Poinsett just up the street, as well as a bustling Hyatt, a sparkling Holiday Inn Express, and more--all within walking distance of practically everything.
With downtown attractions, shopping, accommodations, and dining--all within walking distance of your car--Greenville is a perfect downtown destination (and not just for Euphoria, though who wouldnt want to be there then). To quote a hit song from Edwin McCain, we could not ask for more.
Read more in our feature story for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.