Greenville’s Euphoria festival is a foodie feast

Travel

May 28, 2024

Euphoria Greenville

by Cathy Martin

Close out the summer at Euphoria, a food and drink extravaganza from Sept. 19-22 that brings together chefs, food artisans, beverage experts and musicians from across the Southeast.

Just past first base on Fluor Field in downtown Greenville, S.C., renowned North Carolina pitmaster Matthew Register plates fried oysters over grits while guests sip on Tito’s watermelon-cucumber cocktails to stave off the late-summer heat. Up on the concourse, Charlotte Chef Chris Coleman is hunched over a grill, cranking out wings with Alabama white barbecue sauce as Steel Toe Stiletto warms up for their evening set, which covers everything from Jimmy Buffett to Earth Wind & Fire to Beyonce. 

A line has formed at one of the food stations, and the hungry crowd is getting restless. While there are plenty of other vendors on hand, there’s been a quiet chatter about Chef T’s jerk oxtail birria tacos with sweet plantains, and everybody wants one. The charismatic Hell’s Kitchen alum and executive chef at Union 41 in Bristol, Va., suddenly emerges, passing out handfuls of chocolate-chip cookies, reminding everyone that it’s OK to have dessert first. The gesture, and Chef T’s calm-but-authoritative demeanor, settles the crowd, reminding us why we’re here: to relax, have fun and enjoy some really good food. 

Party in the Park is one of the marquee events at Euphoria, founded in 2006 by musician Edwin McCain, who grew up in Greenville, and a local restaurateur. This year, the festival comprises 66 events — including chef dinners, culinary classes, wine and mixology sessions, and more — and brings a palpable energy to this upstate city with a flourishing arts and culinary scene.

Highlights at last year’s festival included Chef’s Table, where guests gathered at a local kitchenware store as chefs prepared dishes with out-of-the-ordinary ingredients like fried frog mousse and bluefin bone marrow shooters (not for the faint of heart). In another session called Palmetto Provisions, Rob Masone from Kounter in Rock Hill, S.C., demonstrated how to make compressed watermelon with herbed goat cheese, honey lavender, fig and pistachios. Afterward, the group strolled a few doors down to Six & Twenty Distillery for torched “Bonfire” bourbon cocktails and a distillery tour. 

At Papi’s Tacos, a cozy, family-owned Mexican spot overlooking Falls Park, Euphoria guests were treated to a multicourse brunch with the added bonus of guest pastry chef Tania Cienfuegos Harris — a 2024 James Beard Award semifinalist who works at Topsoil Kitchen in nearby Traveler’s Rest. Maria Jose Lehman, a tequila “ambassador” known across South Carolina as Tequila Maria, revved up the small crowd — the music played, the tequila flowed and the meal ended with an impromptu dance party among strangers. 

live music at Euphoria

From local up-and-comers to James Beard-recognized chefs, Euphoria showcases a broad array of talent, which typically includes one high-profile chef. This year, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse will team with his son E.J. Lagasse and Michelin-starred DC chef Ryan Ratino on a multicourse dinner (sold out at press time). 

Indulge a little, or indulge a lot. With so many options, the choices are plentiful.

WHERE TO STAY:

Grand Bohemian Lodge is a showstopper, situated right by the gushing falls of the Reedy River. Spirit & Bower, the hotel’s bustling cocktail bar, spills right out into Falls Park, and the lodge is in walking distance to many Euphoria events.

AC Hotel Greenville on Camperdown Plaza has a clean-lined aesthetic, a lively street-level cocktail bar, Paloma, and a greenhouse-inspired rooftop bar, Juniper, with magnificent sunset views. It’s also a short walk to Fluor Field, ideal if you’re planning to attend any of Euphoria’s large tasting events like Feast by the Field or Party in the Park, and just across the street from a snazzy new O-Ku and Indaco. For a low-key vibe and break from the action, check out The Press Room, the hotel’s reservation-only speakeasy.

Hotel Hartness, about 20 miles from downtown, offers a quieter stay on a large former family estate with a stylish restaurant, Patterson, and a tranquil spa to decompress after all the festivities.

Note: Many events sell out quickly — view the schedule at euphoriagreenville.com and purchase tickets early if you plan to go.

Getting there: 1.5-hour drive from Charlotte

Photographs courtesy Euphoria Greenville

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