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What’s Cooking at Kounter in Rock Hill, SC?

What’s Cooking at Kounter

in Rock Hill, SC?

Chef Rob Masone is hard at work behind the restaurant’s pink laminate countertop, whipping up desserts, preparing appetizers and putting his personal touches on main courses. Between preparing meals, the 2023 South Carolina Chef Ambassador checks in on guests and shares his passion with everyone who walks into his restaurant. 

Situated in the heart of downtown Rock Hill, Kounter is more than just a place to grab a bite during a visit to York County — it is an immersive dining experience. Utilizing farm-fresh ingredients sourced locally, each dish is meticulously crafted, with careful consideration given to its presentation.

More than a York County Restaurant

While currently celebrated as a prominent restaurant in the area, Kounter is also recognized as a civil rights protest site. On January 31, 1961, 10 men — eight from the nearby Friendship Junior College — bravely staged a sit-in at the segregated McCrory’s Five and Dime. The men were denied service and sentenced to serve 30 days in jail or to pay a fine. One chose the fine, while the other nine served 30 days in jail and became known as the “Friendship 9”. Their unfair treatment and subsequent bravery attracted national attention and played a part in the Civil Rights movement. 

Jail, No Bail Exhibit

When Chef Rob discovered the building for his new restaurant concept, he strived to honor its history and the courage of the Friendship 9. He restored the original pink laminate countertop where the men sat and listed their names on the back of its bar stools. (Bonus: Next door to Kounter is the Jail, No Bail Exhibit. Here, you can learn more about the Friendship 9 through original letters, newspaper articles, images and videos.)

Drinks, Dinner, Dessert, and a Show

For a night out at Kounter, kick things off by taking a seat at the infamous counter where you can choose from a selection of craft cocktails, draft beers or wine. The Rose Colored Glasses cocktail, a crowd favorite, boasts a smoky and sweet flavor profile, blending mezcal, honey-serrano syrup, rose water, Cointreau, and a hint of lemon.


If you prefer simplicity with a bold kick, the Pear Martini, made with pear-flavored Grey Goose, Saint Germaine, pear nectar and bitters, is an excellent choice. In colder seasons, consider options like the Twisted White Russian, Taggart’s Elder Fashioned, or Winter is Coming, featuring Woodford, winter spiced maple syrup, and lemon. Two craft mocktails (Pear + Lime Spritz and Squeeze of the Day) are also on the drink menu. 

Something to Start

If you catch a whiff of something smoky in the air, don’t worry; it’s coming from the Smoking Tuna Poke, a great shareable to kick off your night. This dish is prepared in the chef’s corner behind the counter and is made with wood-smoked marinated yellowfin tuna, wonton crisps, cabbage slaw, ponzu, sweet peppers and wasabi aioli. Delivered to your table under a glass dome, the unveiling releases a waft of smoke into the air. 

Equally enticing is the Totchos appetizer – a must-try starter. These aren’t your typical tater tots; they are hand-rolled parmesan and rosemary tater tots, topped with pimento cheese, pickled giardiniera, a candied jalapeno glaze and fried spinach. 


Kounter’s sliders double as a great shareable or an individual meal. They are served on cake stands and are sandwiched between pull-apart bread, an ode to Thanksgiving Day nostalgia. The beef sliders boast toppings of bacon jam, barbecue sauce, roasted tomato, arugula, and garlic-herb cheese, while the fried chicken sliders feature pickles, roasted tomato, and malt vinegar. Adding to the distinctive appeal, each cake stand was carefully selected from various sources, contributing its own unique charm.

The Mains

You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu for your main course. The 17 Herb Seared Hangar Steak is a top contender and can be upgraded to include a lobster tail or crab cake. Kounter’s Spaghetti-O’s + Meatballs is nothing like the Spaghetti-O’s you may remember from your childhood. The dish is served with lamb meatballs, anellini pasta, orange-scented ricotta cheese, mushroom cream sauce, and basil. Complete any meal by adding an a-la-carte side, like crispy brussel sprouts or sriracha-soaked edamame. 

If you’re in the mood for something lighter, the salads are anything but bland. They each come in a mason jar, topped with a tight lid. Your job: shake it up and pour it into your bowl. Salad options include Tuscan Caesar, Southwest Salmon, and Beet Down, which is prepared with a beet medley.

There’s Always Room for Dessert

After all that, you’ll want to have saved room for dessert. The Whipped Key Lime starts with a graham cracker crumble shell and is topped with a torched vanilla meringue. The garnish is a brûléed lime sugar, created by cutting a lime in half, pouring sugar on its open face, and torching it with a flame. 


For the chocolate lover, order Mom’s Chocolate Pie, which comes from a recipe by Chef Rob’s mother. As the recipe calls for, it is topped with store-bought Cool Whip, the only thing not made in-house.

Learn more about Kounter and its delicious offerings here. Make sure to plan a visit soon!