Quick and easy doesn’t have to mean flavorless when it comes to lunch in Charleston. These destinations provide options, local ingredients, and fast service. Everything is made with care, allowing Charlestonians to not waste the midday meal — even if crunched for time. Skip the stale packed lunch this time and try one of these essential spots instead.Read More
14 Non-Boring Lunch Destinations in Charleston
Try one of these essential restaurants for lunch
The go-to at Chinese-American-plus-Japanese spot Jackrabbit Filly is usually the local catch chirashi rice bowl, but always be on the lookout for one of chef Shuai Wang’s specials, like the recent pork birria taco with smoked pork, mozzarella, onion, and cilantro wrapped in a scallion pancake.
Butcher & Bee
Butcher & Bee is a leisurely type of lunch place. Order a glass of rosé, start with the whipped feta cheese drizzled with honey, and then decide between the spicy avocado salad with crispy rice or the spicy fried chicken sandwich with Benton’s country ham.
El Molino Supermarket
Find the taqueria inside of El Molino Supermarket for some of the freshest tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and burritos around. Choose from lengua, barbacoa, pastor, carne asada, cachete, cabeza, and carnitas. Order in the supermarket and take them to go or sit on one of the sidewalk tables.
Little Miss Ha
Vietnamese restaurant Little Miss Ha offers warming bowls of pho, spring rolls, vermicelli noodle bowls, and a kid’s menu. The food comes out quick, so this could be an office pick up, or stay for a few courses and beer.
Mercantile & Mash
Located in the old cigar factory on East Bay Street, this specialty food market’s refrigerator is stacked with anything from sandwiches to kale salads. Order at the counter for a grain bowl, breakfast all day, or a green goddess salad.
Poke Tea House
Poke Tea House is one of the best spots for poke bowls and bubble tea in the Lowcountry. The cafe offers a variety of bases (rice or salad) with choices of tuna, salmon, chicken, and all sorts of garnishes and toppings.
Expect friendly and fast service at this Mt. Pleasant deli, which added a downtown location last year. At Mozzo, it’s common to hear, “Hey Jimmy, are you having the regular?” Other patrons can choose from an extensive sandwich menu featuring proteins such as chicken cutlet, roast beef, turkey, and Italian meats served on 10 different kinds of bread. Daily soups, house-made pickles, and local iced tea are a few of the many accompaniments offered.
Ted’s is a butcher shop, but Ted’s also takes lunch very seriously. It offers super-filling paninis, like a wagyu beef version with caramelized onions and a blue cheese garlic aioli or a chicken, pancetta, and avocado choice. The chopped salads, charcuterie boards, and soups offer a non-carb option for customers.
Cru Cafe is doing serious comfort food for lunch in an 18th century Charleston single-style home. The post-lunch desk nap required will be worth it for the fried green tomatoes with pork belly croutons.
This chic space close to King Street offers a ladies-who-lunch type experience with grain bowls, veggie burgers, grilled salmon, and other light options. Basic Kitchen keeps it light with plenty of vegetables, but it also serves a great chocolate tahini tart and fun cocktails.
Queen Street Grocery
Hidden among houses in a quiet corridor of downtown, Queen Street Grocery is home to hot-pressed sandwiches, fresh salads, and all-day breakfast. The hallmark of this one-of-a-kind corner store is the crepes filled with savory or sweet ingredients. Don’t miss out on s’mores in crepe form with the James Island, which is filled with chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker.
The owners of long-standing bakery Macaroon Boutique, Fabrice Rizzo and Fabienne Docco, Le Chambertin for lunch Wednesday through Sunday. The petite cafe sits just off Broad Street and serves a daily lunch, along with coffee, pastries, breads, and imported goods from France. The couple says they wanted it to feel like dining in a small shop nestled in Burgundy.
Gaulart & Maliclet Fast and French Inc.
This pint-sized eatery has the nickname Fast & French for good reason, as patrons can stop in for a quick bowl of soup or mill over a special of the day for hours. Here, the cafe has served cuisine reminiscent of home-cooked meals in France since 1984. Lunch specials include anything from cheese and pate to a croque monsieur, all of which come with a complimentary glass of house wine, tea, or coffee.
It’s all about seafood at James Island spot CudaCo. It’s a fish and oyster market, but it also happens to utilize those ingredients to give customers some of the freshest lunch catches around. The coconut sticky rice bowl is topped with a choice of tuna, scallops, or shrimp with a delicate avocado mousse. The crispy flounder sandwich with American cheese is said to be one of the best in Charleston.