Betsy’s on the Corner is a soda fountain, a diner, and a town café, source of square meals with a southern accent and some of the best cakes for miles around.
The big menu offers salads, soups, sandwiches, and rugged burgers with all sorts of toppings (turkey or veggie patties also available), including a “Corner Burger” that is a South Carolina paradigm topped with fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese. All-beef Nathan’s brand hot dogs come nestled in New England-style split-top buns that are griddle-toasted to a crisp. I like one called The Murphy Dog, which is a Dixie dog variation, with chili and slaw plus dill pickle chips. Onion rings are superb: fragile-crusted and fresh, needing only a good sprinkle of salt to attain perfection.
Betsy’s serves a Blue Plate Special every day, a meat-and-two affair that includes the likes of pot roast, fried chicken, or pork chops, plus a couple of side dishes (try the rich, motley-textured mac ‘n’ cheese, ethereal onion rings, or curiously sweet/sharp cole slaw), and a corn muffin — all for $10. On Friday and Saturday only, Betsy’s also is open for breakfast.
Ice cream service is a kick, ranging from cones and cups to sundaes to a top-of-the-line “Heavens to Betsy” that is eight scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, butterscotch, caramel and marshmallow toppings, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, Heath Bar crunch, Oreo crumbles, peanuts, whipped cream, and cherries. I like the Nutty Buddy sundae, which is vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and peanut butter sauce, crumbled Reese’s Pieces, whipped cream and a cherry. There is nothing extraordinary about the ice cream or the fudge, but these concoctions are well-constructed and will satisfy all but the fastidious ice cream epicure.
Since moving from its old location on the main street — where it was Betsy’s on the Corner — the new, two-story enterprise obtained a liquor license. In addition to wine, beer, and cocktails, the menu now melds adult beverages with Betsy’s predilection for ice cream fun in a series of “Boozy Shakes.” There’s Banana Crème Pie (banana liqueur, vodka, bananas, vanilla ice cream), Mocha Me Dizzy (made with Bailey’s and coffee ice cream), and even PB&J, which is peanut butter, vanilla ice Cream and Jack Daniel’s!
Cakes, lined up on pedestals along the counter, are extraordinary — reason enough to visit Betsy’s. Made by a local confectionery maestro known as Meechee, they are towering, generously frosted beauties that range from mile-high, 5-layer chocolate to dazzling pecan pie pound cake. All welcome an a la mode treatment.
Betsy’s clientele includes visitors, locals, and, at lunch especially, people who work in Aiken’s downtown district.