Restaurants You Need to Try in Aiken
For a relatively small town, Aiken has some great food and restaurant options. These restaurants have been around for a long time, and are proven, consistent performers. Here’s a list of my go-to restaurants in Aiken along with some of my favorite dishes.
Try them all and let me know what you think! If you have suggestions to add my list, feel free to leave them in the comments at the bottom.
1. Linda’s Bistro – 135 York Street SE, Aiken SC
Linda’s Bistro never disappoints. Delicious food, carefully prepared by Linda Rooney; racetrack exercise jockey-turned chef/owner. Delightful, intimate setting in restored historic Victorian home with beautifully tended gardens lends itself to a romantic dinner for two, or a big table of foodie friends. My husband loves the grilled dry aged New York strip steak with frites and I like the wild mushroom ravioli or the risotto a la Linda. Linda’s Bistro also hosts special wine dinners – details, hours and more may be found on the Linda’s Bistro website.
2. Malia’s Restaurant – 120 Laurens Street SW, Aiken SC
For 30 years, Malia’s has consistently ranked at the top of Aiken’s great restaurants. Open for lunch, drinks and dinner, Malia’s is known for using fine, fresh, ethically produced ingredients. Mother and son Malia Koelker and Matthew Shackleton are chef/ owner/ partners of Malia’s and along with executive chef Michael McFadden, the trio produces excellent, consistent, innovative dishes. If the weather is nice, ask to sit outside in the courtyard, with fairy lights, reclaimed brick patio and a bubbling fountain. I often choose the specials here, and have been presented with some outstanding meals. Locals swear by the steak salad for lunch and the raspberry pie with homemade ice cream for dessert. Find the menu, operating hours and more on Malia’s website.
3. The Restaurant at The Willcox – 100 Colleton Avenue, SW Aiken, SC
The Willcox does everything top notch – and their restaurant is no exception. My favorite way to experience The Willcox is dining in the lobby with friends and a nice glass of pinot noir. I love their bites menu; the chicken liver pâté with port wine gelée is superb, the New Zealand lamb chops and the truffle fries are decadent, sinful and delicious. Talented, New Zealand born chef Regan Browell is constantly incorporating seasonal, sustainable ingredients for a made from scratch menu free of processed and chemically preserved foods. Experience the relaxed ambiance in the historic, landmark Willcox Hotel in Downtown Aiken.
4. Casa Bella – 120 Chesterfield Street SE, Aiken SC
The first time I went to what is now Casa Bella, it was a ladies clothing store. I facilitated the sale of the property to the current chef and owners, Arlene and Joe Ianelli, who turned this lovely historic Victorian into the wonderful restaurant it is today. Chef Joe prepares traditional Italian dishes like zuppa di pesce, osso buco, and my favorite – eggplant rollatini. Eat in one of the indoor dining rooms, in the lovely brick courtyard garden, at the bar, or on the porch. If you love Italian food, you will love Casa Bella. For a look at their menu, visit the Casa Bella website.
5. The Stables at Rose Hill Estate – 245 Greenville Street NW, Aiken SC
The Stables at Rose Hill Estate is one of the most charming settings for dining in Aiken. This fine dining experience takes you inside a re-purposed horse stable on an estate property in the middle of downtown Aiken. Owners Eva and Stephen Mueller purchased the Rose Hill Estate in 2002. After an extensive restoration project, the Stables Restaurant opened in 2009. Enjoy your meal inside the stables, or outside in the courtyard listening to live music. The food is a mash-up of German – Southern fare with dishes like Jagerschnitzel, Low Country Boil, and fried green tomatoes. Personally, I like the German cucumber salad, shrimp and grits and collard greens. For more information, visit The Rose Hill Estate’s website.
I’m not done yet…
Check back again soon as I continue eating my way around Aiken. Next up…newcomers to the restaurant scene.
What’s your favorite restaurant/dish in Aiken? Feel free to make your own recommendations and suggestions in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!