The Red Shed is a colorful and welcoming roadside enterprise where you can eat masterful meat loaf with all the trimmings, fallapart-tender grilled chicken, and a panoply of southern-style vegetables, followed by a spectacular selection of blue ribbon pies, cakes, and pudding for dessert. If a local fruit or vegetable is in season, you can buy it to cook and eat at home or taste it in the from-scratch meals that come from the kitchen.
The menu at this casual urban retreat reflects both Japan and the American Southwest, but the food goes beyond culinary platitudes. Creative sushi and sushi rolls, flash-fried stuffed jalapeno peppers, bento boxes and flank-steak tacos are served with panache ... and with hot tea, sweet tea, or a beer brewed nearby or somewhere else in the nation or the world.
Skillfully-dressed lunch counter hamburgers and hot dogs -- with fries or onion rings -- are what locals come for. Also noteworthy is the sizzled-crisp fried baloney sandwich, preferably topped with cheese and dressed to the nines.
A farm-stand cafe and local-products shop in the heart of peach-growing country, Peaches 'n' Such has a short menu of excellent downhome daily specials that include fried chicken, pork chop casserole, and meat loaf, with classic southern vegetables to match. For dessert: lofty layer cakes and the house signatures peach ice cream and peach cobbler.
At Heidi and Joe Trull's comfortable crossroads café, expect true-South meals made with local produce and culinary savoir faire. Start with country ham balls or praline bacon and finish with such out-of-this-world desserts as coconut bread pudding, chocolate coconut cheesecake, Acadian fig cake, and whiskey egg nog ice cream.
Baked goods are outlandishly rich in this hospitable tea room where breakfast is served all day. Tea and its proper service are the house specialty, from simple cream tea and afternoon tea to robust four-course high tea in the afternoon (the latter available only by reservation).
What looks like a honky-tonk biker bar is, in fact, a source of excellent seafood, fried or broiled. If you are a food-focused person visiting Aiken, Harry's is a must.