Dining out can be very expensive in Charleston. For lunch, visitors usually don’t want to spend a ton of money, yet they don’t want to go to a chain restaurant either.
Here are my top 5 favorite places to go for lunch in downtown Charleston:
Centrally located on Broad Street, this quaint cafe serves French classics at low prices. Dining is European, meaning the space is crowded and most likely you will be sitting at a bar top knocking elbows with a stranger. But the food is so delicious. I’ve ordered the ham croq’ monsieur on sourdough with melted cheese ($6) and an Earl Grey iced tea ($3). Vegetarian and vegan options are available.
This is my favorite deli in Charleston. Also located on Broad, this restaurant is kid-friendly and has a large patio in the back. Their tongue-in-cheek menu features favorites like the “Apple Butter Jeans” sandwich: Warm melted brie, sliced Granny Smith apples, local apple butter, fresh arugula, smoked turkey, honey ham, and applewood-smoked bacon served on a panini-pressed local French baguette ($7.95). The Folly Beach Wrap is my personal favorite: turkey, colby jack, honey mustard, onions, bacon, guacamole, dill pickle spear, shredded iceberg lettuce, and crunchy sea salt potato chips all tucked in a wheat wrap ($7.95). They also have a vegetarian and vegan menu. You can also call ahead to place your order.
This Vietnamese sandwich shop is located on trendy, up-and-coming Spring Street. Banh mi sandwiches are their speciality: toasted baguette, cucumber, pickled carrots, pickled daikon radish, cilantro, holy basil, crispy shallots, chile-mayonnaise with your choice of protein ($9). This is a great place to pick up sandwiches if you are having a picnic at Hampton Park, a short drive north of Spring Street.
Hominy Grill is a Charleston favorite for its southern classics: warm biscuits, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken. Although they do not have a separate lunch menu, there are several items to choose from that are below $12. One of their most popular dishes is the Charleston Nasty Biscuit with fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy for $12. If you’re hoping to try She Crab Soup while visiting Charleston, you can get a cup at Hominy Grill for $6.
One of my favorite sushi places in Charleston, Sushi Blue offers a bento box lunch special ($7-$9). Each Bento Box includes miso soup, ginger salad, 4 pieces of California roll, and your choice of one to two extras. The restaurant is conveniently located in the French Quarter close to the market, the Powder Magazine, and Chalmers Street.