The 10 Best Restaurants In Clemson, South Carolina

Helen Armitage

Clemson, South Carolina, is widely known as a college town and home of Clemson University, but the charming upstate city is also home to a stellar dining scene. From casual dining options such as barbecue and deli sandwiches to upscale restaurants serving classic American fare, our guide to Clemson’s best restaurants will feature a restaurant perfect for any occasion.

1. Rick Erwin’s Clemson

Market, Restaurant, Steakhouse, American

The latest addition to the award winning Rick Erwin Dining Group, Rick Erwin’s Clemson serves classy, traditional American cuisine in chic, urban surroundings. To start, guests can try a variety tempting small plates like crispy fried oysters, beef carpaccio and sweet potato bisque. But executive chef Shawn Creef and his team’s talents lie in the restaurant’s steaks, chops and seafood. Try the massive 36 ounce center cut porterhouse steak if you dare or for a lighter option try the skillet seared sea bass with basil whipped potatoes, asparagus and roasted red pepper coulis. The restaurant uses seasonal products so the menu changes on a regular basis.

2. Spill The Beans of Clemson

Cafe, Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream, American

Coffee connoisseurs and lovers of ice cream alike congregate at Spill The Beans of Clemson, which is a cute, casual coffee shop and ice cream parlor located just outside the Clemson University campus. This isn’t your run of the mill parlor with only classic flavors to choose from. Starting with either vanilla, chocolate or frozen yoghurt as a base, guests can create their own personalized ice cream from over 50 ingredients including cookie dough, gummy bears and pretzels to name a few. Though a few Spill The Beans signature creations exist for the indecisive. While its ice creams are perfect for cooling down during hot summer months, its coffees are ideal for warming up in colder weather.

3. On The Green

Bistro, Restaurant, American, Seafood

Located in Farmer’s Hall, a beautiful building constructed in 1826 in the neighboring town of Pendleton, 1826 On The Green is a casual bistro overseen by owner and chef Barbara Rizzo. Here diners are served eclectic American fare crafted from seasonal and local ingredients. A classically stylish dining room welcomes guests to try dishes like shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage and sweet peppers in a sherry cream sauce or buttermilk fried chicken with Tasso ham gravy, sweet potato mash and fresh vegetables. While the restaurant’s charming patio overlooking Pendleton’s gorgeous town green is perfect for a spot of al fresco dining or drinks with friends.

4. Pixie & Bill’s

Diner, Restaurant, Steakhouse, American

A long standing Clemson dining establishment, Pixie & Bill’s is widely regarded as the city’s original fine-dining forerunner. A classic design, think natural woods, plush upholstery and roaring fireplaces, features throughout while paintings by artists including Terry Redlin and Jim Booth adorn the walls. Many of the restaurant’s original, legendary menu items are still served, including its lobster bisque and ice cream and hot fudge filled Grand Marnier crepes. Popular new menu additions include the Memphis dry rubbed pork chop and scallops Valdostano.

5. Sardi’s Den

Sardi’s Den

Known throughout the city for its delicious barbecue and burgers, Sardi’s Den is a firm favorite with local diners, students from Clemson University and tourists. Must try dishes include its much raved about signature, secret recipe baby back ribs grilled to perfection and served with red BBQ sauce, and its range of handmade eight ounce ground chuck hamburgers. Sardi’s Den’s nightly specials include the popular All You Can Eat Crab Leg each Tuesday evening.

Sardi’s Den, 520 Old Greenville Highway #2, Clemson, SC, USA, +1 864 654 7427

6. Calhoun Corners

Restaurant, American, Seafood

Calhoun Corners is a popular local restaurant with a colorful history. Built in 1893 as a community civic center it later served as a church and general store and finally opened as a restaurant in 1979. Today, the lovingly restored venue includes original fireplaces and retains the building’s rustic, elegant charm. A courtyard garden is shaded by one of South Carolina’s oldest post oak trees and ideal for after dinner drinks on warmer evenings. Standout dishes on Calhoun Corners’ eclectic American menu include pan-seared thick cut rib eye with sautéed mushrooms and horseradish cream and spicy shrimp and sausage on stone ground grits.

7. Blue Heron

Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, Sushi, Asian

Serving an eclectic mix of classic American fare and authentic sushi, Blue Heron is perfect for diners with traditional tastes looking to try something a little different. The restaurant is Clemson’s longest standing sushi bar and its fresh fish dishes, which include spicy tuna roll, red snapper nigiri and the namesake Blue Heron roll with crab, asparagus, spicy mayo and almonds, are very popular. Though diners with more conservative palates will love dishes like mint Dijon crusted New Zealand rack of lamb with goat cheese whipped potatoes, garden vegetables and port wine demi-glace or its range of pizzas, pasta dishes and burgers.

8. The Pot Belly Deli

Bar, Deli, Sandwich Shop, American

Often hailed as serving the best sandwiches in the city, The Pot Belly Deli is a much loved venue that has been popular gathering place for local residents and students since it first opened its doors more than 20 years ago. Casual and welcoming, The Pot Belly Deli features a cozy interior where guests can try its legendary hot and cold sandwiches. The Darkhorse (turkey, provolone and coleslaw on grilled pumpernickel) and The Essex (turkey, Swiss cheese, cucumbers, tomato and Thousand Island dressing) are standouts. Its coffee bar sells baked goods like muffins and scones.

9. Villa Toscana on Main


Villa Toscana on Main

Located in the beautiful town of Central just a short drive from Clemson, Villa Toscana on Main is a charming, upscale Italian restaurant specializing in the rustic cuisine of Tuscany. Though the restaurant only opened in December 2014, with a grand opening overseen by Senator Lindsey Graham (who interestingly grew up in the property the restaurant now resides in), it has already earned itself a firm following and many repeat customers. Dishes like Mama Rosa’s meat sauce and papardelle pasta – based on an old family recipe passed down by owner Greg Demetri’s ancestors – and executive chef Ben Kaja’s signature Tuscan chicken with gemelli pasta and sautéed zucchini, squash and grape tomatoes proving very popular.

Villa Toscana on Main, 217 West Main Street, Central, SC, USA, +1 864 952 5027

10. Brioso Fresh Pasta

Brioso Fresh Pasta

Offering casual dining based around tasty Italian fare, when owners Ray and Karan Stratford opened Brioso Fresh Pasta they introduced a new dining concept to Clemson. Sitting somewhere between self-serve and table service restaurants, at Brioso guests place their orders at a register and choose their own table while friendly servers take care of the rest of their meal. Here you’ll find an original take on fast-casual dining that doesn’t compromise on service. As its name would suggest, pasta is the main event at Brioso and guests can create their own unique dishes from its mix and match homemade fresh pasta and sauces or choose from signature entrees like lasagna or manicotti.

Brioso Fresh Pasta, 360 Collage Avenue, Suite 200, Clemson, SC, USA, +1 864 653 3800

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