The Lunch Counter
Where to grab a midday bite
By Elise DeVoe
With many people working remotely, leaving the house to go out for lunch has changed from a regular pre-pandemic activity to more of a treasured occasion.
It’s safe to say that we’ve all hit our limit of meal prep at one time or another. Want someone else to do the cooking and change up your day?
Change out of your sweatsuit—we’re going out for lunch.
4628 Spruill Ave. #101
One of the hottest restaurants in Charleston right now, head to the trendy Park Circle area to experience Jackrabbit Filly’s bold and vibrant Chinese-fusion flavors. Fans of the food truck Short Grain, which preceded the brick-and-mortar Jackrabbit Filly, will recognize a few of the items on the lunch menu, like their karaage rice bowl that features crispy Japanese-style fried chicken, a soft egg, shaved cabbage, sweet lemon mayo and ponzu over short grain rice. If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, their creative market sandwich changes biweekly (think buttermilk fried catfish, soy-pickled okra and bibb lettuce with Creole mayo and Chinese takeout orange sauce on thick toast) and they offer a pork smash burger featuring local pork from Holy City Hogs. They are open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
82 Wentworth St.
Brighten your day with a veggie-packed meal in the heart of downtown Charleston on Wentworth Street. Basic Kitchen uses a bounty of local produce and a rainbow of ingredients to create food that’s nourishing, healthful and delicious. They offer a rotating daily menu featuring simple, seasonal and delightful dishes like their signature Basic Bowl that is a satisfying balance of colorful veggies, curried chickpeas, herbaceous chimichurri and hearty grains. They also serve a variety of plant-based small plates like their cauliflower wings, corn ribs and sweet potato fries served with cashew ranch. Enjoy lunch Monday-Friday from 11a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday brunch with lunch options from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
224 Rutledge Ave.
After nearly a decade of serving pan Asian comfort foods to the Charleston community, the lunch menu at Xiao Bao downtown consists of a small selection of unique dishes that are now XBB classics—some which are available on the more seasonal and slightly larger dinner menu. Don't let the size of the menu fool you, these are dishes you aren't likely to find many other places: okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake), pad kra pow (thai beef and basil stir fry over rice with a fried egg), or som tum with chicken (a green papaya salad with fermented black bean fried chicken over rice). They are open for lunch every day except Sunday starting at 11 a.m.
Butcher & Bee
1085 Morrison Dr.
The original concept of Butcher & Bee was built around gourmet sandwiches, but they have grown and built out their menu since then. They still have plenty of elevated sandwiches available for lunch, like their fried catfish and spicy fried chicken sandwiches, but they also serve lighter fare and small plates perfect for sharing. Indulge in their signature whipped ricotta to kick off the meal and follow it with one of their flavor-packed salads like the spicy avocado or grilled chickpea Caesar salad. The hummus bowl, with an added Storey Farm soft egg, also hits the spot. Then, fuel up for the rest of your day with a selection from their espresso bar. They are open for lunch Monday-Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. and open at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Church and Union
32B N. Market St.
Church and Union features new American cuisine by Top Chef alum chef, Jamie Lynch, who is the restaurant partner and executive chef Alex Spencer. The high ceilings in this former church and chic decor make for a casual, yet refined dining experience with a sophisticated ambiance right across from the Historic Charleston City Market. Their ahi tuna poke bowl and house ramen are staples on the lunch menu and they have recently added a CU Burger to the mix, featuring truffle cheese, mushroom duxelles and truffle aioli served with hand-cut French fries. Lunch is offered Monday-Friday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., so stop in for a special occasion or to impress a colleague.
730 Coleman Blvd, Mt. Pleasant
616 Meeting St., Charleston
With locations in Mt. Pleasant and downtown, Mozzo Deli is here to satisfy all your sandwich cravings. This New England-style deli makes you feel like a member of the family with comforting classics like their chicken parmesan and muffaletta sandwiches. On the lighter side, they offer vegetarian sandwiches like their “Bella,” which features grilled vegetables, asiago cheese and balsamic vinegar. To finish off the meal on a sweet note, check out their rotating menu of homemade desserts that range from brunch treats like cinnamon rolls to peanut butter banana pudding. They are open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m. – 5 p.m. in Mount Pleasant and downtown from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both locations are open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Poke Tea House
441 Meeting Street Unit E, Charleston
Just off of the corner of Spring and Meeting Street lies Poke Tea House, a build-your-own poke bar that also has an extensive bubble tea menu. There is plenty of room for customization at Poke Tea House, where diners can have their choice of fresh fish, chicken, or tofu, an array of condiments and toppings and whether they want their poke served over rice, in a salad or burrito style. House specialties include their Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl, which consists of fresh tuna, choice of cucumber or avocado, classic poke sauce and scallions. They have an array of bubble tea flavors and they also offer unsweetened green tea for those looking for an afternoon boost. They open at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and noon on the weekends.
Malika Pakistani Chai Canteen
1333 Theater Dr.
Malika Canteen is now open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday in Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre. Chef and Partner Maryam Ghaznavi and co-founder Raheel Gauba are the first to bring Pakistani street food to Charleston. The menu features rich, flavorful dishes like chicken tikka masala and your choice of chicken or cholay (chickpea) biryani. Another crowd favorite is the aloo tikki roll featuring spiced mashed potato patties wrapped in buttery naan and brightened up with tamarind and mint chutneys. Wash down the bold flavors with a desi hot or iced chai, mango lassi, or masala lemonade to complete the meal experience.
176 Line St.
Head downtown to the recently-opened Little Line Kitchen & Provisions for sandwiches, salads and small plates. Owner Wendy Gleim has been working in food and beverage since she was 14 and according to her, “It’s all about the food and it never gets old.” They have daily specials that often have a vegetarian or vegan counterpart to accommodate as many customers as possible. Even on fried chicken Fridays, they offer a plant-based option. They consider themselves “on the cheat day side” of healthy eating with items like their falafel sliders and stacked BLT. Enjoy at the counter stools in the quaint dining room or on the outdoor patio. They are open starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The Grit Counter
320 Wingo Way #101, Mt. Pleasant
3438 W Montague Ave., North Charleston
The menu at The Grit Counter is designed for a fun culinary experience for everyone. Their “Build Your Own Grit Bowl” section offers guests the chance to create their own grits dish, just the way they like it. Diners can choose their flavor of grits, two toppings, a sauce and a meat to build their very own custom creation. If you want to leave it to the experts, try one of their signature bowls like “The Ranchero Bowl” with house chorizo, smoked tomato grits and salsa verde. Their Mt. Pleasant location is open for lunch only from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. and the newly-opened location in North Charleston serves both lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.