About a month ago I posted a story about the days I spend at Spill The Beans.  As you may recall, my “Ivan Weeks” are heavily focused on working from my laptop in Downtown Greenville while Ivan gets all smart-and-stuff in 1st grade five minutes away.  I cannot make it six and a half hours without getting some substantial nourishment, though, so let us talk about lunch.

I have already expressed my love for The Bohemian Café which is a wonderful place for lunch at least once a week.  You cannot eat at the same place every day, though, and Rainer’s is a wonderfully delicious lunch spot right across from my headquarters here at Spill The Beans.  It is a delicious and affordable destination that is much more than just another lunch café.

I actually discovered Rainer’s on accident one day several months ago.  After a morning at Spill The Beans, I got hungry but was feeling pretty lazy in terms of doing anything about it.  I saw the Subway across the street and decided to put convenience ahead of a quality dining experience.  As I approached “Sandwich Hell” a sign on the sidewalk caught my eye advertising a “Beef Dip” special.  I am always a sucker for a good French dip sandwich so I kicked my laziness to the curb and trekked on at least 13 more feet to learn more.  In my 34 years, no 13 foot hike on a sidewalk has ever resulted in such a glorious discovery.

Rainer's Beef Dip
First off, Rainer’s has a great vibe.  It is a small, laid back establishment and a display of decadent desserts* greets you at the door.  The restaurant is decorated in local art which gives Rainer’s the feel of a gallery as much as a café.  The staff is incredibly friendly and welcomed me to my first visit as if I was one of the regulars.  I instantly knew that regardless of what I ordered, my lunch experience was going to far surpass the processed meats and cheeses I almost condemned myself to.

Needless to say, I was not disappointed.   Rainer’s Beef Dip was nothing short of phenomenal.  To start with, Rainer’s slow cooks their beef for ten hours in Guinness Stout.  Hopefully I do not have to explain to you how simply magical this is and it was perfect on a hoagie roll with pepper jack cheese.  My first visit to Rainer’s was immediately followed up with a second because I had to come back for another sandwich the next day.  I woke up the next morning still thinking about it and had another Beef Dip several hours before I usually eat lunch.  One visit and I was completely hooked. 

Rainer's on UrbanspoonOn follow up visits I tore myself away from the Beef Dip and found the pulled pork and Cuban sandwiches to be equal levels of awesome.  The Holy Grail did not come until my fifth or sixth visit when I introduced Chris to Rainer’s and we exchanged bites of each other’s selections. She had ordered the Grilled Chicken Pesto sandwich and I am now hooked like a junky with an obsession for pesto.  The chicken is cooked perfectly, pesto is always delicious, and it is served on toasted sourdough bread with your choice of cheese.  I am now indefinitely stuck on this corner of the menu and despite my desire to branch out, I may need a professional counselor or family intervention to help me make the transition to something different.

Sandwiches are the key feature of Rainer’s but the menu has quite a bit more to offer.  Their list of side items is broad and ever changing.  Options include salads, pastas, salsa and even a grownup version of beanie wienies.  I have enjoyed all of them that I have sampled but for me the real gems are the soups.  I have had about a half a dozen different soups of the day with my lunch and every last one of them has been better than the one I had before it.  Even when I was craving the turkey and rice soup from a previous visit, the vegetable soup on my follow up trip made me forget what I liked just a week earlier.  Especially as the weather is bringing us into to full-blow soup season, I am craving my next soup from Rainer’s as much as I am my next chicken pesto sandwich.

For me and my schedule, Rainer’s is primarily a lunch destination but I recognize that they are much more than that.  I enjoy my soup and sandwich and I head back out into my afternoon but I would like to come back later with a bigger appetite and looser schedule.   They have a great beer selection that features imports and microbrews that I hesitate to explore when I am picking up my son from school in an hour.  Finally, I am not much of dessert guy but like I said, the display case at the entrance makes me reconsider this position every time I step foot in the door.  

I am actually typing this from Spill The Beans with a clear view of Rainer’s just across the street. Enough of this babble; you guys can check out Rainer’s on your own time… I am going across the street for lunch.

Irmgard's Apple Pie

 * “display of decadent desserts” … just for the record I am a huge fan of alliteration (and onomatopoeia as well but that is harder to fit into our blog posts).