If you’re seeking a memorable evening away from Charlotte's hustle and bustle, look no further than this quaint city in the heart of the Palmetto State.

Clt food girl

Our adventure began at Old Town Kitchen and Cocktails, a few blocks off Main Street. As we walked in, the warm glow of Edison bulbs illuminated the rustic brick walls, creating a warm and inviting ambiance. The menu rotates an array of libations, from classic martinis to innovative concoctions. We enjoyed a drink paired with crispy French fries and tender wings bathed in Cheerwine BBQ sauce.

Old town kitchen

With spirits lifted and taste buds awakened, we ventured to dinner at Kounter, where history meets flavor. Unbeknownst to us, this restaurant would soon etch itself into our hearts as one of our new favorites.

Tucked away in downtown Rock Hill, a true hidden gem, Kounter beckoned us with its unassuming facade. We stepped inside, greeted by the warm glow of pendant lights and the hum of conversation. The restaurant’s casual charm immediately put us at ease.

Our server, Chelsea, shared the restaurant’s intriguing backstory. In 1961, young African American students from nearby Friendship Junior College staged a sit-in at the segregated lunch counter of McCrory’s Five and Dime, which now houses Kounter. They were arrested and sentenced to jail for their peaceful protest. Their courage and resilience became known as the “Friendship 9.” We sat at the very counter where history unfolded.

But let’s not forget the reason we were here: the food. Chef Rob Masone, the culinary genius behind Kounter, wove magic with every dish. The menu celebrated farm-to-table ingredients; each plate was a canvas of flavors. Here are some highlights of our culinary journey.

The Smoking Tuna Poke arrived like a work of art. Delicate cubes of fresh tuna, kissed by smoke, napa cabbage slaw, sweety drop peppers, and wonton crisps created a symphony of textures and flavors—a dish that left us craving more.

chicken and waffle sushipokepokeChicken and Waffle Sushi. A whimsical creation that combined the best of Southern and Japanese cuisines. Tender fried chicken nestled within a fluffy waffle rolled into sushi form. Drizzled with maple-horseradish glaze, it was a playful twist on tradition. We savored each bite.

The Chicken and Biscuits transported us straight to Grandma’s kitchen. Herb-seared airline chicken, gouda biscuits, and creamy skillet gravy—it was a plate of nostalgia. The biscuits crumbled right, and the chicken was juicy and perfectly seasoned.

And then came dessert—the grand finale that left us speechless. Mom’s Chocolate Pie graced our table, a plate of heaven. Rich, velvety chocolate filling encased in a flaky crust. But here’s the twist: a dollop of Food Lion Cool Whip, the only item not made in-house. It was the secret ingredient, the nostalgic finish and nod to how Rob’s mom used to make it. Each spoonful was a taste of love and tradition.

chocolate piechicken and biscuits

Our second sweet ending, PB&J wontons, left us speechless. The crunch of the outer shell combined with a warm, gooey center of that flavor that childhood memories are made of. Truly delicious!

The heart of our evening, though, lay in the delectable dishes and shared moments. We clinked our glasses at Old Town. At Kounter, we swapped stories with Chef Rob as he crafted the perfect culinary adventure. We learned the rich history of the building. We indulged in a dining experience full of unique twists on classic and traditional dishes. We vowed to come back soon. So, here’s to Rock Hill—a small town where flavor, history, and creativity collide.

Make sure to follow Amy on Instagram @Cltfoodgirl and watch her reel!