Takeout in Greenville: Here is what people are ordering and how some restaurants adapted
South Carolinians spend an average of $946 on takeout annually, according to data released by "Simply. Thrifty. Living.," a personal finance consumer-focused website that based its report on 30 days of Google search data.
We rank smack dab in the middle of the nation. People in Washington D.C. spend the most, shelling out an average of $1,499 annually, while New Mexico residents spend the least with a $734 annual tab.
Move over pizza, the data showed the most popular type of food to order in South Carolina was southern food and the most ordered item was chicken Parmesan.
This got us thinking about how takeout is going for local restaurants amid the coronavirus pandemic — when restaurants are limited to takeout, only — and what types of food people are ordering locally.
“We’re selling a lot of family-style meals,” said Michael Kramer, chef and owner of Jianna in downtown Greenville.
Kramer’s modern Italian restaurant known for its extruded pasta, fresh oysters and delicate crudos has converted to a menu of food that travels well — chicken piccata, chicken marsala, spaghetti and meatballs.
“It’s comfort food," Kramer said. "It's simple, and it seems to be what people want the most now."
The chef has still gotten some orders for his beef carpaccio, though.
“There’s not anything we can’t do to-go, other than ice cream or sorbetto or semifreddo — and some have asked for it,” Kramer said. “It will melt, but if they know what’s going on and they get it and put it in the freezer to refreeze, we can do it.”
Topsoil Kitchen & Market has done a nearly complete overhaul of its menu, offering weekly order-ahead options that can be eaten right away or frozen and can feed one or a few. The restaurant's farm-to-table philosophy remains, but the presentation has changed.
“We started a pizza joint,” co-owner Patrick McInerney said with a laugh.
The pizza operation serves a few purposes — one, to add a new, delicious food item to the menu; two, to add a food that is easily translatable for takeout or delivery; and three, to add another stream of income that helps keep the restaurant's full-time baker employed.
Aside from Chicago-style pizza, Topsoil has also seen a huge run on the restaurant’s take-and-bake options and its meal kits, which include all the components for everything from a delicious bowl of ramen to a stack of Chef Adam Cooke’s famous spiced carrot pancakes or a brunch of homemade bagels, house gravlax, cream cheese and toppings along with a bottle of bubbles.
At Fork & Plough, co-owner and executive chef Shawn Kelly has seen a rush on chicken pot pie.
“One day, we sold about 40,” Kelly said.
The pies were touted on the social media platform Nextdoor, and neighbors heeded the advice that they should get one.
Other big sellers have been shepherd’s pie and tomato pie along with Fork & Plough’s family meals — prime rib and fried chicken have been big sellers.
But Kelly and his team have decided to keep their local and seasonal focus. Case in point, soft-shell crabs. Kelly recently bought 12 dozen fresh crabs.
People thought he was a bit crazy, particularly with a to-go only menu.
But they sold out.
At The Burrow, diners have gone nuts for family meals. The restaurant’s lasagna has been a consistent order for people in the neighborhood, said owner Josh Beeby, whose other restaurants include Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria and The Trappe Door.
Beeby has taken this time to implement family meals at The Burrow. The meals were part of the original business plan but have been waiting in the wings since the restaurant opened eight months ago.
Additionally, instead of the regular menu, the restaurant is doing daily themed dinners — Italian night, Indian night, etc.
Tuesdays are lobster roll night, and although he figured it was a long shot given the current state of the world, Beeby said he consistently sells out.
Other nice sellers are specialty cocktail mixers — a smokes jalapeno margarita, house bloody Mary mix, ginger beer form Trappe Door.
And in case you were wondering, yes, sushi makes a good to-go meal. At Sushi Go, owner Max Godo said the restaurant’s Crunchy King, Tuna Tuna Tuna and New Jazz rolls are consistent orders.
The restaurant is also doing delivery now.
As for staff at The Greenville News and Anderson Independent-Mail:
Basil Thai, Southern Growl and Kustom Krust for food, and Jitters Coffee in Central for coffee (They sell growlers of cold brew).
– Zoe Nicholson
Mekong has been doing a great job, and the sauces and fresh herbs make even takeout taste great. Fork & Plough has also been a go-to for its convenience since it has groceries, take-and-bake meals, beer and wine, and a to-go menu.
– Lillia Callum-Penso
Takeout pizza is the best takeout option.
– Matt Burkhartt
Barbecue and the potato salad from Smokin’ Pig in Easley held up well.
– Ralph Jeffrey
Henry's Smokehouse on Wade Hampton and Barley’s are great.
– Eric Connor
Sidewall Pizza Co. (Pelham location). They had a few snags with the ordering system early on, but it has since improved.
– Elizabeth LaFleur
Sidewall Pizza Co. as well as the make-your-own-pizza kits takeout option from Todaro. Asada has also been a delicious takeout option.
– Gabe Cavallaro
Sullivan's in downtown Anderson. They offer free delivery with a minimum order, and the dishes have been the same quality you’d get in the restaurant. They update Facebook with what’s available each day.
Summa Joe's is another great, budget-friendly option.
– Nikie Mayo