For years now I’ve talked about making the roughly 45 minute drive out to Grits and Groceries in Belton, SC. If you follow them on social media, then you understand the cravings that emerge upon seeing their daily specials. Heidi, the chef and owner at Grits and Groceries, cooks up her eclectic southern dishes, while Joe, her husband, whips up his famous desserts. Located in a refurbished country store that was once a meeting place for the county, Grits and Groceries still serves as a place to gather and eat “real food, done real good.”
Heidi and Joe are pioneers of the farm-to-table concept and continue to provide diners with a market-inspired menu with ingredients sourced within a 100-mile radius. Their philosophy: Can’t find locally sourced, in-season produce…change the menu. Their regular menu consists of good ol’ southern dishes such as a Warm Roast Pork Sandwich served open-faced on Texas Toast and a Palmetto Burger with a big scoop of homemade pimento cheese on top. Along with their usual menu, they also offer daily specials that incorporate Cajun, Creole and Southern cooking into one tasty dish. And, of course, Joe’s homemade dessert menu also changes daily including some of his specialties like Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie, Fried Hand Pies and ice cream made with Happy Cow Creamery products.
Upon entering the cozy, warm country store that is now Grits and Groceries, Heidi greeted me and my mom with a smile and some suggestions as to what we MUST order (because trust me, it’s more than hard to decide!). We settled on the Tomato Pie, Country Ham Balls and New Orleans Shrimp Po-Boy. The Tomato Pie is served as a whole, mini pie instead of a piece of pie and has a browned, crispy crust on top and along the sides. There’s just something about tomato pie in the summertime that makes you smile, especially Grits and Groceries’ tomato pie with a vibrant mix of fresh tomatoes, onions and creamy goodness on the inside.
Every single ingredient in the mouthwatering Country Ham Balls keeps you coming back for more. A mixture of ham and homemade pimento cheese is fried to crispy perfection and placed on top of a slather of pepper jelly. It reminds me of the classic party appetizer with a hunk of cream cheese topped with pepper jelly and served with buttery crackers, except so much better. One bite into these crunchy on the outside, velvety on the inside balls and you’re hooked.
Both Chef Heidi and Joe have years of experience cooking in New Orleans under esteemed chef Emeril Lagasse, as well as opening the award-winning Elizabeth’s restaurant, so I knew the New Orleans Shrimp Po-Boy had to be pretty phenomenal. Grits and Groceries keeps their Po-Boy pretty straightforward with crispy, fried shrimp, romaine lettuce and a creamy remoulade style sauce on top. What takes this shrimp Po-Boy from ordinary to extraordinary? The slight sweetness of the shrimp and the freshly baked hoagie roll. Yes, there’s a lot of bread on this bad boy, but you’ll need it to bite into the generous helping of shrimp, and to soak up all that yummy sauce.
Now to the toughest decision we made all day…what to get for dessert? We went back and forth between the homemade ice cream, warm banana pudding and many more tantalizing options before finally deciding on the Lemon Drop Pound Cake served with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries. It was hands down the moistest pound cake I’ve ever tasted with a vibrant lemony flavor. If you claim to not be a fan of pound cake, I bet Chef Joe will convert you into one.
It’s apparent at Grits and Groceries that Heidi and Joe are committed to showcasing Southern food as it should be: simple, fresh and full of flavor. If anyone is up for a road trip, let me know and I will happily tag along. Next on my list will be their Saturday brunch to try their infamous Praline Bacon and a whole lot more. Grits and Groceries is located at 2440 Due West Highway in Belton, SC. Just look for the giant chicken! They are open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am-2pm, Thursday from 10am-2pm and 5pm-9pm, and Friday and Saturday from 9am-2pm.