EDIT 8/12/09: Ryan's Anderson has gone down the tubes. Now they're pretty much like all the other mediocre to bad Ryan's. It's very sad. First, the pico de gallo went bye-bye. Then the food started to taste bland. Now, even their steaks are tough. Meh.
ORIGINAL REVIEW (sometime around 2005-2006?):
For those unfamiliar with Ryan's, it's a Southern chain of buffet restaurants, and every one is slightly different. I've hit Ryan's in Savannah, Greenville, Seneca, Commerce, and a couple of others that I can't remember, and they were all kind of bad or just "eh," but somehow the Ryan's on Clemson Blvd by Lowes and Target is actually pretty good, and their steaks are very flavorful.
My wife and I figure that we could go to Red Lobster or Logans and spend $50 and tip or go to Ryan's and spend $20 and tip and walk out happier. We wind up there as much as once a week, and they are always friendly and the food is fresh and good.
Sometimes the salads have too much dressing, but there's usually some undressed lettuce somewhere that you can add to your plate and mix it up a bit.
Although I don't have kids, I would expect this to be a good place for kids so that they can pick their own food and be happy with it. And with the dessert bar right there in plain view , you can threaten not to let them at it if they don't eat their veggies.
Favorite Dish: Steak. Spiced well, and you can fill up on it alone. But there's too much other stuff to let that happen. They've been serving a Greek salad in the last year that's pretty darn good. Recently they've started up a different food each night, but we've somehow managed to go 2 Mondays in a row for buffalo wings. I recommend the spicy chicken tenders. Then go fill up at the nacho bar on chips, cheese, meat, jalapenos and pico de gallo which seems to vary in quality every visit. Huge dessert bar, but the quality varies. I generally get soft serve ice cream and dump M&M's and gummy bears on it.
Oh yeah - did I mention that it can get pretty unhealthy if you let it? Or pretty healthy. Despite all of the glistening, buttery, fatty, salty, and tasty stuff they offer, try and eat some fruit and vegetables while you're there. There's lots, and it's all pretty good. When we first went, we loaded up on bad foods. Then we realized that just because it's a buffet, we really didn't have to gorge ourselves. Now, we generally eat a plate of bad stuff, a plate of veggies, and some fruit. Then maybe a little extra bad stuff if we're really hungry. :)
j peters is a very good restaurant located on main street in downtown anderson. for lunch they offer a great sandwich selection. their dinner menu offers steaks, seafood, and pasta. good american fare moderately priced.
the smoking pig is located in pendleton about three miles north of I-85 on US 76. the smoking pig is one of the best bar-b-que joints in south carolina. great pulled pork, brisket, and brunswick stew. only open thursday-saturday. well worth the three mile side trip off of I-85 in the anderson-clemson area.
the 1826 restaurant is located in the historic farmers hall in downtown pendleton. this excellent cafe style restaurant offers southern and american cuisine. a great place to have lunch or dinner in the anderson-clemson area. great food moderately priced.
Delicious, need I say more? Nami is located at Portman Marina with a beautiful view of the lake. This is a perfect place to take someone special for a romantic night out, or your family to celebrate a graduation, etc. The atmosphere is relaxing and beautiful. The wait staff is friendly and attentive, and the price is just right. You can choose to order an entrée of NY strip with pecan cream sauce, or if you prefer, sushi. There are a wide variety of items on the menu. Try it and I’m sure you will love it! Reservations are required.
Favorite Dish: NY strip with pecan cream sauce. The sauce is to die for!! If you prefer to order several items from the small dishes menu I would recommend the crab shumai, gyoza and beef tataki.
Foodwise, if you're from a city, or are used to really great food, well, I'm sorry. Kick that palate a notch or two down, then check out Tucker's for Sunday brunch, Ryan's on Clemson Blvd next to Target for dinner or lunch anytime (not the Ryan's at the intersection of 28, 81, and 29, though) and Golden Corral on weekends for breakfast, the two Chinese buffets on Clemson Blvd near the mall, and for the sake of your kids, you HAVE to visit CiCi's Pizza at least once while you're there (make sure you have the cinnamon rolls and ask for a taco pizza). None of these are stellar experiences, but it's all cheap, kid friendly, and not bad. The smaller, local places have been disappointing so far. For a decent burger or hot dog if you're over near Lake Hartwell, Fruit Punch out on 24 near the junction of Whitehall Rd (by Ingles) is OK and pretty cheap. Forget finding good Mexican food - every restaurant here is the same, and it's all bland - try Barberitos over by Lowe's in a pinch. Sullivan's in downtown Anderson is about as good as you'll get in the area.