Rockaway Athletic Club

Hamburgers | Tavern
One of the best

Pimento cheese (spelled without an “i” in the middle) is a favorite southern-hostess spread of cheddar, mayo, mild red pepper, and, sometimes, horseradish, pickles, and more. It goes back a hundred years and has been the featured sandwich ingredient at the Masters Golf Tournament over in Augusta for as long as anyone can remember. Sometime in the early 1960s, J.C. Reynolds, proprietor of an eatery called The Dairy Bar in Columbia, South Carolina, had the bright idea to put it on a hamburger. Today Columbia remains Ground Zero of pimento cheeseburger excellence, and the Rockaway Athletic Club is one of its primary outposts.

Although the menu lists many kinds of burgers and sandwiches, salads, and fried seafood, the pimento cheeseburger stars. It is a broad, rugged round of beef smothered with mild orange cheese dotted with bits of innocuous red pepper. The cheese is not the crazy-flavored kind; it is smooth, creamy comfort. The standard configuration includes lettuce, tomato, raw onion, mayonnaise, and a few pickle chips on the side.

Crinkle cut French fries are standard-issue, good and crisp. Smothered with pimento cheese, they become a luxury spud casserole.

The original Rockaway Athletic Club, opened in 1982, was destroyed by fire in 2002 but quickly rebuilt. Ambience is utterly tavernous: dark and beery with television sets everywhere. The long bar, known as The South Carolina Liquor Library, boasts the biggest selection of spirits in the southeast. Mr. Peanut overlooks the bar (above a 25-cent peanut-dispenser); and a vintage Zoltar fortune-telling machine lets you know the future for a dollar.

In keeping with tradition, there still is no sign on Rosewood Drive to let passers-by know they have arrived. Everyone who wants or needs to know where Rockaway is already does.

What to Eat
Rockaway Athletic Club, Pimiento Cheeseburger
Pimiento Cheeseburger
Signature pimento cheeseburger is a multi-napkin eating experience.
Rockaway Athletic Club, Pimiento Cheese Fries
Pimiento Cheese Fries
Crinkle-cuts get the royal (pimento cheese) treatment.
Rockaway Athletic Club, Spinach Artichoke Wonton
Spinach Artichoke Wonton
Crisp-fried spinach-artichoke wontons with ranch dressing dip
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 12am
Monday11am - 12am
Tuesday11am - 12am
Wednesday11am - 1am
Thursday11am - 1am
Friday11am - 1am
Saturday11am - 1am
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
4 stops | 146 MILES | 2 hr 47 min

The pimento cheeseburger was invented in Columbia, South Carolina in the 1960s at a long-gone restaurant called the Dairy Bar. The inspired duet of carnivorous succulence and cheddar luxury, with a soupcon of spice, has become popular throughout the state and much of the Southland, but you still find the beefiest and cheesiest ones in…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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