Located in a shopping center, Wade’s restaurant is modern and efficient. But its menu and its spirit are from days gone by. Opened in 1947, it is a beacon of time-honored Dixie meat-&-3 meals, including crusty fried chicken and a broad every-day roster of vegetables, plus yeast rolls that the sign outside boasts are the best anywhere.
They are exemplary rolls, really the best dish in the house. Big and fluffy inside, with faint crisp crust on a muffin-like top, they are radiant with fresh-baked yeasty flavor. All alone with no butter whatever, they’re delicious. For a bite between forkfuls of pungent turnip greens, buttered carrots, or okra & tomatoes, they’re a brilliant homey note.
Fried chicken (available every day) is swell — especially its convoluted crust; and flounder (just a few days a week) is pleasantly sweet; but beyond entrees and essential rolls, it’s vegetables that are the main attraction. Sixteen are available daily, listed by number on the menu. For example, mac & cheese is #9, sweet potato souffle is #10, turnip greens are #6. Some positions on the roster vary. #1 always is beans, but it could be blackeyed peas, speckled butter beans, or navy beans. On some occasions, the #11 or #12 spot will say, “No #11 today” or “No #12 today.” Personal favorites from the list include vividly seasoned turnip greens, stout field peas, and — when sweet tooth is ravening — creamed corn or dessertworthy sweet potato casserole.
I’ve missed out on banana pudding, which is a well-known house dessert on the menu a few days a week, but didn’t feel too deprived when I slid a fork down into the gauzy chocolate fluff that is French silk pie. Peanut butter pie is a lightweight in the best sense of the word: easy to eat in large quantities … especially when drizzled with chocolate syrup.
Wade’s is a Spartanburg favorite, patronized by families and old timers who have been coming for years. Big as the restaurant is, it’s popular enough that waiting for a table is not uncommon. But the wait never is too long. Service is extremely brisk. Even when the place is packed, it’s easy to be in and out, well-fed in under a half-hour.
Thanks to Laura Bagwell for leading the way.