Monday, March 01, 2004

10 cool places in the upstate:

Oh, the places we go

Downtown Underground
This Mecca for the service industry gets going when the downtown crew clocks out. And that's late. 3-a.m. late. Leave-when-it's- lights-out late. It's down a flight of steps, hence the name Underground. It's not the ripped T-shirt, karaoke-singing, drunk crowd. Most of the time you don't have to worry about elbowroom or screaming above the din of the crowd. But after 1 a.m. on Friday, there's a line outside to get in the door. It's not open on Monday and if you don't have a membership, you probably won't get in unless you talk a member into signing you in. Memberships are free, but you have to wait 24 hours after applying.
The Underground, 1 College St., Greenville. 864.421.9933.

"Mags" - as regulars call it, has been in Spartanburg for more than eight years. The two-story bar is a hangout for music fans and a meeting place for people after work. Upstairs is the stage and huge floor for dancing and watching the bands. Stickers of bands who have played the venue cover the stairs and walls leading up to the music hall. Downstairs has a full bar, a few vintage videogames, an air hockey table and several pool tables. There's plenty of room to walk around and mingle, even when the bar is crowded on a show-night. Some big-time show nights are coming up, too. Charleston band Jump Little Children plays Feb. 27. Magnolia's favorites Albert Hill held a reunion show last week. P.S. - If there's no band, there's no cover.
Mags, 261 Magnolia St., Spartanburg. 864.948.1777.

Nick's Tavern
Nick's Tavern and Deli is such a well-kept Clemson secret, its telephone number isn't even listed. This quiet bar is a haven for grad students, hip professors and undergrads of actual drinking age, opposed to 18-year-olds packing fake IDs populating more crowded bars. No surprise, since Nick's holds the distinction of being the oldest bar in town. Established in 1976 by Nick Vatakis and Milton Antonakos, Nick's has been a Clemson institution for generations of discriminating beer drinkers. No liquor, but Nick's offers 15 beers on tap. Insider's tip - check out artichoke dip with warm pita triangles. Happy hour 4-8 p.m. daily, beer only, smoking, sparse parking; closed Sunday.
Nick's, 107-2 Sloan St., Clemson. 864.654.4890.

Hot 98.1 Concert Series
"The shows are going to be off the hook," said Fisher, program director for New Hot 98-1 FM in Greenville. "They are going to be quality shows, shows that you are going to look forward to." Still in its infancy, the concert series plans to feature varied performers, and the type of music New Hot 98-1 plays. They call it rhythmic. Think hip-hop, dance, rap, R&B and Top 40 without the guitars. The first concert at The Handlebar - The Ying Yang Twins - was sold out and definitely off the hook as billed. The station hopes to book a concert once a month at different locations in the Upstate. The Ying Yang Twins concert was $15. For photos of the first concert at The Handlebar, go to and click on PhotoLink.
New Hot 98-1 Concert Series, varied venues. 864.232.9810 and for more info.

Jittery Joe's
In the heart of downtown Anderson, Jittery Joe's surprises newcomers accustomed to finding other businesses down the road on the busier Clemson Boulevard. Also, one of the best takes on a coffeehouse name in a world of pun-related names, i.e., Central Perk in "Friends."

This quiet coffee house is embraced by comfortable homely furniture. It also offers plenty of opportunities for reading books or playing chess. Those wishing to work on their laptops will find the available free wireless Internet a definite advantage. It's a good hangout in an emerging downtown. $1.50 for a large coffee.
Jittery Joe's (inside Sullivan's), 208 South Main St., Anderson. 864.222.0990.

Soby's New South Cuisine
Mixing sophistication with charm, Soby's is the draw for the downtown professional set leaking into the streets for a well- earned martini after its 9-to-5 effort. It feels business casual. Ties are loose. "We like to describe it as high energy and warm," says marketing director Gina Boulware.

Soby's is a staple in Greenville, even offering a corporate apartment, residential suite and private entertainment space. Following the work theme, the bar life is busiest on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday after 6. Closed Sunday.
Soby's, 207 South Main St., Greenville. 864.232.7007,

Blue Ridge
First thing you notice at Blue Ridge Brewing Co., are huge copper vats filled with liquid gold, merrily fermenting away to create the restaurant's signature brews.

"There's something about drinking beer where it's brewed," said 29-year-old beer fan Wes Klunk. "It doesn't get much fresher than that." Atmosphere is laid-back and casual. For the uninitiated who usually get their beer in a six-pack at the grocery store, the Curly Blonde is a good place to start. Outdoor seating sets a perfect location for people watching.
Blue Ridge Brewing, 217 N. Main St., Greenville. 864.232.4677.

Tsunami rocks the midweek. Not many options on a Tuesday in town, but the $2 sushi night is a big hit with the young professional crowd at this faux-sushi dive.

And we say dive with love. Nothing fancy here - just sushi, sake and beer in the form of big Sapporo oil cans. T-shirts and jeans are common; martinis are not. For more on Tsunami and other sushi options, check out the restaurant guide in the dining section.
Tsunami Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill, 106 E. North St., 864.467.1055.

Ground Zero
Ground Zero has been a mainstay for hardcore and punk rock music in the Upstate nightlife since the mid 1990s. It's a big draw for hardcore and punk rock fans around the Southeast because of its all-ages policy (people under 18 are welcome as long as they're accompanied by an adult).

As the number of national punk and hard rock acts that came to the club increased, it moved to a bigger building near Hearon Circle. It's still drawing in big acts. Just skimming over the list of well over 200 acts that have played the club, you'll find Kid Rock, Danzig (of the Misfits), Godsmack and Incubus. Even Vanilla Ice has played there, as well as the Insane Clown Posse. And with this weekend's headliner, Hank Williams III it looks as if they're not finished bringing the big guns of hard rock to the Upstate.
Ground Zero, 3059 Howard St., Spartanburg. 864.948.1661.

The Cazbah
Modern chic and offbeat eclecticism unite in the form of a creative appetizer at The Cazbah.

D├ęcor is striking, with colorful, different, and local art hanging from the walls and ceiling. Tapas range from $4-10, which means you generally share. Kind of place where even if you don't smoke, you'd feel comfortable with a cigarette in your hand, a glass of wine in the other.
The Cazbah, 16 West McBee Ave., Greenville. 864.271.6233.

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