We used the excuse of onkulis Āris being in town to head over to the newest restaurant in town, Universal Joint (UJ). Originating in Atlanta, the idea behind this burger and taco restaurant is to open in residential neighborhoods where it can become a hub, attracting foot and bike traffic in addition to the usual automobile traffic. Advertised as having a family friendly atmosphere, the restaurant/bar also has a wide selection of draft & craft beers, and screens for watching your favorite team. It was the perfect place to watch US beat Ghana in the first stage of the World Cup!
We started with the spicy egg rolls and the Universal fries, piled high with cheddar, bacon, jalapeños, scallions and ranch. All their dressings and almost everything off the menu is made in-house; the boys chose the chicken fingers and tater tots, which are not made in house, however they were quickly devoured nonetheless. The egg rolls disappeared just as quickly, and I really had to hold back on the fries in order to save room for my turkey pita club. Big enough to share, I enjoyed half the next day, and Roberts had the same idea with his brisket philly. Be forewarned, if you are ordering to-go (and not just taking home a doggie bag) you will be charged a 2.5% surcharge, to help offset the expense of the earth-friendly products UJ uses for their take-out. With reasonable prices and a fantastic setup of patios and open-air dining I’m sure we will be back to try the house specialty burgers.
Of course we also showed Āris around, giving him the usual tour of the Upstate that we take most of our guests on. We started with a hike at Wildcat Branch falls, pausing at the middle falls for a quick picture. The lower falls provided a great opportunity to cool off after the hike with some wading in the shallow waters. I was surprised not to see more people enjoying the cooler mountain temperatures with this easy yet rewarding hike.
A drive up Paris Mountain and a picnic lunch later we stopped at the turnoff for Bald Rock, where we enjoyed the fantastic views of the Upcountry. Next a stop at Table Rock for a different perspective and finally ice cream at Aunt Sue's Country Corner. That evening we arrived home with two (or even four?) rather exhausted boys.
One afternoon Āris had a break from his work obligations, and was able to sneak away for a tour of Falls Park. Although there were people out and about, mostly they were resting in the shade instead of trying to sightsee in the 95 degree heat. We cut our tour short for cold drinks at Spill the Beans (where we bumped into Eric Litwin!) and a cool-down at the splash pad before calling it a day.After more than a couple evenings spent pleasantly around the dinner table and our first visit to the new neighborhood Joint with onkul Āris, time came to say our goodbyes. Hopefully he had as much fun as we did, only next time we hope he’ll bring tante Laura with!!!