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A plate of fried cauliflower, a bowl of falafel, and a bowl of meatballs.
A spread of food from Basic Kitchen.
Kirk Robert

13 Non-Boring Lunch Destinations in Charleston

Try one of these essential restaurants for lunch.

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A spread of food from Basic Kitchen.
| Kirk Robert

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.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Jackrabbit Filly

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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 a recent chicken katsu sandwich done Italian style with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onion, hot pepper spread, and lots of garlicky Duke’s mayonaisse.

Butcher & Bee

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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

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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

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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

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Located in the old cigar factory on East Bay Street, this specialty food markets’ refrigerator is stacked with anything from sandwiches to kale salads. Order at the counter for a bowl of curly fries, breakfast all day, or a Catalan salad.

Tour Charleston’s First Food Hall Mercantile and Mash
Mercantile & Mash dining room.
Erin Perkins

Poke Tea House

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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.

Poke bowls and tea.
Bowls from Poke Tea House.
Poke Tea House

Mozzo Deli

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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 Butcherblock

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Ted’s takes paninis very seriously. They offer Wagyu beef version with caramelized onions and a blue cheese garlic aioli or the chicken, pancetta, and avocado choice. The chopped salads, charcuterie boards, and soups offer a non-carb option for customers.

Cru Cafe

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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.

Burger and fries
Burger and fries at Cru Cafe.
Cru Cafe

Basic Kitchen

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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

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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.

exterior of blue building with a bench.
Exterior of Queen Street Grocery.
Erin Perkins

Gaulart & Maliclet Fast and French Inc.

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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.

Erin Perkins/Eater

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.

Jackrabbit Filly

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 a recent chicken katsu sandwich done Italian style with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onion, hot pepper spread, and lots of garlicky Duke’s mayonaisse.

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

Tour Charleston’s First Food Hall Mercantile and Mash
Mercantile & Mash dining room.
Erin Perkins

Located in the old cigar factory on East Bay Street, this specialty food markets’ refrigerator is stacked with anything from sandwiches to kale salads. Order at the counter for a bowl of curly fries, breakfast all day, or a Catalan salad.

Tour Charleston’s First Food Hall Mercantile and Mash
Mercantile & Mash dining room.
Erin Perkins

Poke Tea House

Poke bowls and tea.
Bowls from Poke Tea House.
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.

Poke bowls and tea.
Bowls from Poke Tea House.
Poke Tea House

Mozzo Deli

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 Butcherblock

Ted’s takes paninis very seriously. They offer Wagyu beef version with caramelized onions and a blue cheese garlic aioli or the chicken, pancetta, and avocado choice. The chopped salads, charcuterie boards, and soups offer a non-carb option for customers.

Cru Cafe

Burger and fries
Burger and fries at Cru Cafe.
Cru Cafe

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.

Burger and fries
Burger and fries at Cru Cafe.
Cru Cafe

Basic Kitchen

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

exterior of blue building with a bench.
Exterior of Queen Street Grocery.
Erin Perkins

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.

exterior of blue building with a bench.
Exterior of Queen Street Grocery.
Erin Perkins

Gaulart & Maliclet Fast and French Inc.

Erin Perkins/Eater

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.

Erin Perkins/Eater

CudaCo

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.

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