Foodie Travels: Ike’s Korner Grill, Spartanburg, S.C.

We love when someone stumbles upon a gem of a local restaurant and tells us about it.

That’s what happened with Ike’s Korner Grill in Spartanburg, South Carolina. We’ll spare the tipsters’ identities for this post, because one of them resoundingly wasn’t excited about wandering inside when he saw the exterior of the joint (of which the description on Google calls “unfussy digs”), but we can proudly say they were thrilled by the time they were done because of the food they enjoyed.

Ike’s is a house-style building on the corner of two roads in Upstate South Carolina. There are many places to sit, including tables inside and a deck and patio outdoors, but it was so busy when we arrived that we ended up taking two available seats at the counter beside the cash register.

Our seats were perfect, however, because it gave us an up-close view of how the French fries are handmade. Huge bins of potatoes sit under a table, and the man who cuts them inserts them one by one into a contraption mounted to the wall that slices them into another bin. Then the potato pieces go straight into the fryer. The result: perhaps the most thick, potato-y, handcut fries we’ve eaten anywhere. And they will fill you up!

The burgers are big and full of flavor and covered in fresh ingredients. Folks, these are burgers like you’d expect to get at an old-time grill in the South, with hand-pattied meat, melty cheese, crisp lettuce and juicy tomato…or chili, mustard, onions, slaw, whatever you like.

My wife Molly ordered a bologna sandwich with chili, cheese, mayo and onions. That’s one of her favorite sandwiches to get at many of the diners we visit. Seriously, Ike’s bologna sandwich probably wields the thickest chunk of bologna Molly has ever received on a plate or in a basket of food. She loved it and, though it’s not my favorite kind of sandwich, it was darn good! (We almost always try a bite of each other’s food!) She ate the crispy homemade potato chips (and they are homemade) with her meal, of course with a side of ranch dressing.

It struck me how kind the folks at Ike’s were, not in a fake, overcompensating, we-want-your-tips kind of way. The servers and cooks were running around the whole time we were there, and we know because the grill and kitchen area is behind the bar as part of the whole main dining room. You get to see just about everything happening in front of you while you wait and during your meal. Everybody was so busy, but they were all so nice, quick to get us anything we asked for, including straws, condiments and drink refills. (The sweet tea is goooood!)

Ike’s fills up fast, definitely from our experience on weekends at lunch. It’s easy, from our visit, to see why this place is so popular. So, if you have someone in your group who doesn’t like the looks of the place from the outside, assure them that if they like a good burger and fries, maybe even a beer or two, of which Ike’s serves many and often offers special discounts, they’ll be quite pleased if they just give it a try.

That’s what our tipsters did, and they ended up recommending the place to us. That’s how local restaurants like Ike’s live and grow, the old-school word-of-mouth style that’s worked for restaurant marketing for decades here in the delicious South. And it will continue to work as we are now telling you!

Ike’s Korner Grill, 104 Archer Road, Spartanburg, South Carolina

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