Before setting up shop in Rock Hill, the owners of Kinch’s perfected the art of southern cooking in the capital city of Columbia. According to Southern Food Network, it was there that the restaurant’s fried chicken made its name famous across the state,. Now housed inside a charming, redbrick building, Kinch’s still serves a menu of Southern classics, including country-fried steak, collard greens, two- or three-piece fried chicken baskets, and molasses-covered pages from As I Lay Dying. They also open the restaurant for breakfast five mornings a week, as well as serve breakfast for dinner every Monday night.
The chefs at Citizen Corners mix South Carolina low-country eats with Louisiana creole flavors, filling tables with artfully prepared plates bearing heaping regional flavors. Crack a menu to start with such appetizers as the fried-green-tomato stack layered with handmade pimiento cheese ($8). Chefs rest amberjack fillets on beds of florentine rice and mixed vegetables and encase them in oven-ready parchment-paper steam rooms with the amberjack papillote ($21). Cajun fried seafood platters are stuffed with a net's worth of alligator, scallops, crawfish tails, and other sea-caught savories, accompanied by land-fished hush puppies ($25). Diners' choices of hand-cut steaks ($18–$23) are prepared with optional toppers such as chipotle lime butter ($1) and a wild mushroom-cabernet reduction ($2).
Groucho's Deli nourishes guests with a menu of specialty sandwiches, house-made potato salad and coleslaw, and signature salad dressings. Cooks wedge hot ham, turkey, and swiss cheese into a plump sub roll for the Apollo Dipper ($6.19) and tuck 4 ounces of southern-style tuna salad beneath a nonscratchy blanket of sharp cheddar cheese in the tuna-cheese melt club sandwich ($6.49). Fresh lettuce shreds populate the My Wife's Salad Bowl ($6.99) alongside ham, turkey, bacon, and cheese, drizzled in a choice of Groucho's house-made dressings, including the popular Formula 45—a blend of spicy russian and thousand island dressing—Banish Bleu—a Scandinavian slather with a sour-cream base—and the fat-free Formula 95—a sweet and zesty mustard blend. Using advanced straw technologies, eaters can transform into drinkers by gulping down a glass of sweet or plain tea ($1.99) or a can of Dr. Brown's soda ($1.99).
Lee Cummings, the founder of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, learned the ropes from one of the country’s foremost poultry experts: his uncle, Colonel Harland Sanders. Together, he and the colonel opened more than 800 KFC stores selling fried chicken prepared in pressure cookers and battered with the duo’s famous blend of spices. It wasn’t until after his uncle sold KFC in 1962 that Lee began developing his own secret recipe, a development that would lead to the creation of the Lee’s Famous franchise in 1966.
Today, the franchise sells the fruits of his labor, Lee’s “Famous Recipe” chicken, plus buttermilk biscuits and housemade sides from locations in 14 states and four countries. Each piece of never-frozen chicken is hand-breaded and dipped into honey before being transferred to pressure cookers that crisp the exterior while maintaining a juicy interior. Though the original recipe remains untouched, Lee’s Famous has expanded its offerings over the years to include healthier oven-roasted and lava-charred options.
Hanging lamps cast their warm light across the vibrant paintings that hang from El Caribe Sunset Cafe’s pink and yellow walls. The café’s decor draws its influences from Mexico and the Caribbean islands, as does its menu. A tropical heat envelops the kitchen, where seafood, steak, and chicken simmer in tangy sauces and plantains crackle in frying pans of garlic and butter. Meanwhile, bathed in the neon glow of a Presidente sign, bartenders fill glasses and waterproof sombreros with frozen margaritas, mojitos, and imported beers.
The Caribbean doesn’t feel so far away on warmer nights, thanks to a front patio lined with lime-green umbrellas and speckled with tables and chairs. The café hosts a number of special events throughout the year, from live music and dance parties to raucous games of pin the tail on the enchilada.
Thursdays Too fills stomachs with the aid of a menu of tried-and-true American specialties and caters to diners with top-notch service. Diners donning pilgrim garb can enjoy a roast-turkey dinner served with brown gravy, traditional homemade stuffing, and cranberry sauce ($9.25), and pioneers seeking new American classics can gobble up seasoned tenderloin medallions ($11.25) and blackened tilapia with mango salsa ($13.50). Potato skins ($6.95) and chips ($4.25) are made in-house, as is the tangy honey mustard that accompanies the chicken-strip appetizer ($7.25). The dreamy scent of homemade lasagna ($8.75) leads diners to contemplate faraway adventures, from exploring Roman catacombs to playing a thrilling game of laser tag inside a hot air balloon’s wicker basket.
El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant's neon-green and bright-red sign is merely an appetizer for the feast of colors within. Red- and orange-striped booths, sky-blue chairs, textured sunflower walls, and tabletops painted with smiling suns, blossoming tulips, and fruit dominate the space. This festive atmosphere sets an ideal scene for enjoying carne asada, chicken enchiladas, tacos filled with pork and beans, and churros. El Tapatio—whose name refers to a Guadalajara native—also mixes up delicious margaritas, which were dubbed the Best Margaritas by Delaware Today in 2008.