South Carolina’s Ultimate Foodie Trail

by GO GlobeHopper

South Carolina’s cuisine is as diverse as it is flavorful, thanks in part to dedicated Chef Ambassadors. Each year, chefs from across South Carolina are nominated to serve as culinary ambassadors, making their mark with signature dishes that define the cuisine of the Palmetto State. Each one of their restaurants offers unique and unforgettable culinary experiences.

Get a taste of South Carolina cuisine at Chef Ambassador restaurants across the state and get rewarded. Check out 10 restaurants to qualify for a branded t-shirt, or continue your culinary road trip and visit 20+ restaurants to receive a South Carolina Ultimate Foodie Trail sweatshirt. Sign up HERE for the program, and take a look below to see all the restaurants that are included.


With dishes inspired by both Southern and Pacific Rim cuisine, 2017 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Adam Kirby has a deep appreciation for local products, especially seafood sourced from South Carolina waters. The menu at Bistro 217, which is located in the heart of Pawleys Island, offers an array of fine dining choices including seafood, steaks, and pasta. Top your evening and meal off with an assortment of specialty desserts.

Located in the Charleston Place Hotel, Charleston Grill’s innovative menu is divided into four quadrants: Pure, Lush, Cosmopolitan, and Southern. Executive Chef Michelle Weaver, a 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassador, puts her own spin on Southern cuisine to create dishes that are as unique as they are delicious.


Located in the original carriage house of the historic Wentworth Mansion in downtown Charleston, Circa 1886 is a AAA Four-Diamond restaurant offering traditional Southern cuisine with a modern twist in a sophisticated, historic setting. 2019 Chef Ambassador Marc Collins brings a French influence and a touch of 21st-century culinary artistry to his creations.


2017 South Carolina Chef Ambassador William Cribb keeps his focus on food that’s fresh, flavorful and fun at Cribbs Kitchen in downtown Spartanburg. A brick-walled eatery with an industrial vibe offering options such as the Stella Blue burger with blue cheese and truffle vinaigrette and Cribb’s ribs, a smoked ribs plate served with pimento mac and cheese.


Head to the Grand Strand for breakfast, lunch, and especially dessert at Croissants Bistro & Bakery. 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Heidi Vukov’s restaurant is cozy, relaxed, and filled with comfort foods and sweet treats.
2019 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Brandon Carter has built a career highlighting the culinary contributions of others, namely the growers, fishers, harvesters, and other local food purveyors who supply the larder at FARM in Bluffton. With its warm, relaxed environment and elegant attention to every aspect of the meal, patrons of FARM will tell you, “This place is not to be missed.” Come in for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch and experience a continually evolving menu of small plates and sides grown from contemporary culinary ideas and local partnerships.


2017 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Amy Fortes is known for her kitchen wizardry at York County’s Flipside Cafe. Located in beautiful downtown Fort Mill, The Flipside Cafe focuses on using fresh, local ingredients for its creative dishes. This friendly neighborhood cafe is the perfect place to stop by for some hearty pancakes and a cup of coffee in the morning before getting your day started, or enjoy a relaxed dinner with family and friends.


Located in historic downtown Rock Hill, The Flipside Restaurant serves locally inspired comfort food in an upscale dining environment. This neighborhood restaurant is the perfect place to stop by for a delicious lunch in the middle of the day or a nice, relaxed dinner with family and friends.


Located in a cozy historic building at the junction of Highways 185 and 284, Grits and Groceries features a market-inspired menu of eclectic Southern cooking. 2015 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Heidi Trull, along with her husband Joe, renovated the restaurant to combine its original well-crafted details with state-of-the-art culinary facilities. The world-class homemade dessert menu changes daily and the Saturday Brunch is an extravaganza of special dishes that make your mouth water.


As the executive chef of Hamptons, 2020-2021 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Raffaele Dall’Erta has turned the small town of Sumter into a fine dining destination. His seasonally inspired menu is filled with dishes prepared from the most succulent cuts of meat and the freshest locally grown produce.


The second restaurant helmed by 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Heidi Vokov, Hook & Barrel serves succulent seafood fresh from the South Carolina coast. They pride themselves on providing distinctive, sustainable seafood dishes while highlighting local ingredients and flavors.


Johnny D’s Waffles and Benedicts (3 locations – Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Surfside Beach)
It’s love at first waffle at Johnny D’s Waffles and Benedicts in Myrtle Beach. Specializing in homemade recipes for breakfast and lunch, Johnny D’s also offers some delicious (and boozy) milkshakes sure to keep your taste buds excited. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, 2020-2021 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Jamie Daskalis’ unique recipes and extensive menu are sure to keep you coming back for more.


At Juniper, 2015 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Brandon Velie and his wife Jeanne share a passion for locally sourced produce, delicious food, and good old-fashioned Southern hospitality. Located in Ridge Spring, Juniper uses local ingredients to create delicious Southern cuisine. From their delicious crab cakes and smoked salmon to classic BLTs and veggie wraps, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Juniper.


Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles (2 locations – Bower Pkwy and Parklane Rd)
Crispy, Southern-fried chicken on top of a rich, fluffy Belgian waffle … is your mouth watering yet? Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles is the first restaurant in the Midlands dedicated to serving up this dynamite combo. 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Kiki Cyrus brings all your favorite soul food to the table and makes sure everyone that stops by feels like family.


One Hot Mama’s (2 locations – Hilton Head Island and Bluffton)
2016 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Orchid Paulmeier brings her expertise in Southern BBQ straight to your table at One Hot Mama’s. Located on the south end of Hilton Head Island, this family-friendly restaurant is part of the “Official South Carolina BBQ Trail.” One bite of their baby back ribs and you’ll become a raving fan of One Hot Mama’s! You’ll also want to try their delicious Meat & 3 combo platters, authentic BBQ platters, hand-cut steaks, burgers, wraps, salads, char-grilled chicken, and “the world’s best” wings.


As a thoughtful extension of Hotel Domestique, Restaurant 17 celebrates innovative cuisine with an international flair. 2022 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Haydn Shaak marries classical training with his dedication to local farms and ingredients to create a menu offering an elevated twist on classic Italian and Mediterranean favorites.


At Roy’s Grille, 2022 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Chris Williams marries family tradition with a dedication to locally sourced ingredients and made-from-scratch foods.


Located on Pawleys Island, Rustic Table is home to some of the best comfort food and homestyle dining in town. Placing an emphasis on fresh ingredients, Rustic Table gathers its ingredients from local farmers and fishermen. These local ingredients and 2017 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Adam Kirby’s delicious menu have helped the restaurant become a favorite among locals and visitors.


2017 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Amy Fortes uses only the best, local ingredients available for the menu at Salmeri’s Italian Kitchen. Open for lunch and dinner, Salmeri’s features a fantastic selection of Italian wines, local and Italian beers, and a seasonal cocktail list.


Located in Historic Downtown Beaufort, Saltus River Grill is an urban seafood grill offering exceptional fare, breathtaking waterfront views, incomparable service, and a sophisticated bar. Chef Brian Waters, a 2015 South Carolina Chef Ambassador, focuses on fresh-off-the-boat seafood and locally grown produce to create a menu that reflects a contemporary, inspired approach to traditional Southern cuisine.


From North Carolina-style barbecue to Southern classics like fried chicken and shrimp ‘n’ grits, Southside Smokehouse specializes in traditional American comfort food with a twist. As executive chef and manager of Southside Smokehouse, 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Sarah McClure showcases weekly specials that are creative and eclectic. Specially prepared steaks, seafood, pizza, and even tacos all make appearances on their ever-rotating menu.


Spotted Salamander provides inventive—and delicious—Southern cuisine in the capital city of Columbia. 2019 Chef Ambassador Jessica Shillato and the team make everything from scratch and strive to use the freshest, highest quality, local ingredients available while providing you with exceptional customer service.


With grand, sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, The Atlantic Room is Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s signature seafood restaurant. Diners will enjoy a menu comprised of fresh, seasonal ingredients with modern American twists on seasonal seafood from 2022 South Carolina Chef Ambassador John Ondo.


If you find yourself in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region, or even if you don’t—Victors is absolutely worth the trip. Located in the lobby of the Hotel Florence, Victors is headed by 2015 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Cooper Thomas and is well-renowned for being the best seafood, steak, and wine in the region.


Willy Taco (3 locations – Willy Taco Feed & Seed (Greenville), Willy Taco Tequila Cocina (Boiling Springs and Spartanburg)
2017 South Carolina Chef Ambassador William Cribb keeps the menu at Willy Taco fresh and delicious with an emphasis on local ingredients and Day of the Dead decor. With mash-ups like fried chicken and collards tucked into fresh corn tortillas, it’s little wonder Cribb topped a Southern Living list of best tacos in the South.


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