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 spots instead.Read More
15 Non-Boring Lunch Destinations in Charleston
Choose from chopped pork sandwiches, al pastor tacos, avocado toast, and more
The group behind Jackrabbit Filly recently opened barbecue spot King BBQ. The menu mixes Chinese flavors with Southern favorites. Look for char siu pork rice bowls, five-spice duck noodle bowls, fried shrimp sliders, garlicky greens, and more.
The Daily Morrison Drive
The Daily took over the former Butcher & Bee address on Morrison Drive, so now there’s plenty of space to spread out with a laptop, an iced coffee, and avocado toast for lunch. The cafe also serves hearty fall grain bowls, chicken pitas, whipped feta toast, and smoothies.
Also featured in:
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.
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.
Expect friendly and fast service at this Mount 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.
Babas on Cannon
Cannon Street eatery Babas offers a menu inspired by pintxo bars in Spain, aperitivo in Italy, and small cafes in France. Look for interesting wines, well-crafted cocktails, coffee drinks, pickled shrimp, fancy grilled cheese, big salads, and jambon beurre.
Pink Cactus Charleston
If lunch calls for margaritas, tacos, and tortas, grab a seat on the patio at Spring Street restaurant Pink Cactus. On Tuesdays, it serves al pastor and on Thursdays, birria is the special of the day.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
Asian soul food spot Xiao Bao Biscuit was one of a kind when it opened on Spring Street in 2012. The kitchen offers items not commonly seen in downtown Charleston, like okonomiyaki covered in “pork candy” and the extra spicy mapo tofu. The menu pulls inspiration from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, so there’s always something new and unexpected to sample.
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, run 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.
Also featured in:
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.