Any visitor to the Old 96 District would do well to pack their appetite, for there is as much to eat and drink as there is to see and do. We’re talking historic buildings transformed into upscale restaurants serving delicious, locally-sourced cuisine, unique wines sipped on while strolling through the cutest houseplant shop, a colorful dinner with roots in historic African-American foodways, and more. I truly ate myself silly each day of my trip to the area, but you don’t have to gorge yourself in order to have a delicious time. Here are four of the most unique dining experiences that I think should make it onto your Old 96 District itinerary.
There’s a reason why Chef Erica McCier was named the 2023 South Carolina Chef Ambassador. At Indigenous Underground, her colorful and funky restaurant in downtown Abbeville, Chef McCier marries regional ingredients with historic African-American culinary traditions from across America and the Caribbean. The gator and grits puts a Louisiana twist on a Southern favorite, and was a highlight for me. The Cajun flavors continue with a Black Eyed Pea gumbo or Creamy Corn Maque Choux. Island flavors can be found in the Cuban Sandwich, the Agave Salmon, and the Island Sandwich, served with pulled pork or pulled chicken. Keep an eye out for specials, and don’t forget to try a cocktail!
Love shopping? Love plants? Love wine? Then not only are you probably my best friend, but Divine Your Space is quite literally the space for you. Chock full of unique gifts and a wide selection of houseplants, landscaping plants, and gardening supplies, the shop sits across the street from Indigenous Underground in a former service station. The real fun starts in the back room, which doubles as a wine bar and shop. Order a glass to sip on while you browse, grab a bottle to take home, or join their wine club if you’re local. When the temperature rises their wine slushies hit home. After a glass (or two) I ended up going home with a few new plants for my extensive houseplant collection.
Wilson’s Curb Market – Clinton
When people describe a restaurant as an institution they are describing Wilson’s Curb Market. Historically a local grocery with a grill, it’s now become the go-to lunch spot for visitors and locals alike. Order at the counter and mingle with longtime regulars as you wait for a taste of classic Americana. Burgers, hot dogs, crispy fried chicken wings, onion rings, and more grace the menu. The fried bologna sandwich was heaven, as was the fried okra. You definitely can’t leave without ordering a South Carolina staple, the Bird Dog. Crispy fried chicken tenders are nestled in a hot dog bun and topped with bacon and melted cheese.
As legendary Cuban singer Celia Cruz might say, toda la vida es un carnaval at Greenwood’s Buenavista, and a delicious carnaval at that. Cuban staples like ceviche, tostones, empanadas, and Cuban sandwiches transport you to a diner in Havana, while Latin music plays on the stereo and you sip on a delicious Mojito or Cuba Libre. I started with the Cuban Sampler, which came with an empanada, a papa rellena, a toston, a maduro, yucca fries, and some croquetas. I also recommend trying the Buenavista Plate for a true taste of Cuba – it comes with your choice of Mojo-grilled chicken or Picadillo (a homey, comforting ground beef dish), plus rice, beans, a side salad, and an additional side. Que rico!