Bathing in the historical charm and the aroma of heirloom recipes, Charleston, South Carolina, is a vibrant palette of flavors waiting to be explored. For those yearning to eat like a local and savor the city's culinary delights beyond the tourist-trodden paths, this treasure map of gastronomy will guide you. Follow us through cobblestone streets and pastel facades to discover where locals eat lunch in Charleston. From tucked-away eateries to sunlit terraces, these 10 must-visit lunch spots serve up more than just a meal—they dish out a rich tapestry of tastes and tales as diverse as the city itself. Welcome to the table where the locals feast.
1. Burbage’s Grocery
A quaint corner grocery store catering to locals in Charleston, situated on the west side of Broad Street. This gem offers a delightful array of Charleston-inspired food items, alongside a tastefully elevated selection of culinary delights. When it comes to lunch, the deli counter at the back steals the show. Their custom-made "fancy" hotdogs and deli sandwiches are simply mouthwatering. One standout, and my favorite, is the Charleston Dog—a hotdog crowned with pimento cheese and pickled okra—a unique combination not to be missed while in Charleston. Don't forget to treat yourself to a freshly baked cookie or a slice of cake (if they have the lemon cake, grab 2 slices!) from the front counter before you leave. Prices typically range from $4 to $10. Seating is limited to one bench outside; perfect for a quick grab-and-go bite.
157 Broad St, Charleston, SC
2. Fast & French
A favorite among locals, Fast & French (lso known as Gaulart & Maliclet) is a cozy bistro tucked away on Broad Street. This charming spot serves up classic French dishes with a touch of Southern flair. The menu changes daily, but expect to find an array of hearty soups, savory crepes, and fresh salads made with locally sourced ingredients. Don't miss their famous quiche or the croque-madame, a delicious ham and cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg. Prices range from $10 to $15. The ambiance inside is warm and inviting, and the coveted seats are on the sidewalk, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch.
98 Broad St, Charleston, SC
Two locations in Charleston, one South of Broad and one on the north end of town. Think gorgeous charcuterie shop that also serves delicious sandwiches using the products they sell in their shop. Sandwiches are only offered from the small location on Church St, South of Broad, Tuesday thru Friday and only until they run out. If you snag one, they are so worth it. $15. No seating; grab and go.
106 Church St, Charleston, SC
A Low Country, soul food meets seafood joint on Blake Street in Charleston. It is not fancy in the least. The food makes up for it. All fresh, home cooked southern staples—from ribs, chicken, and turkey to livers, gizzards and chops right alongside shrimp, flounder and crab rice (famous for this). Sides include all the Southern fixins, Mac n cheese, collard greens, cabbage, corn, okra and more. They also offer sandwiches and burgers, priced from $4 for a cheeseburger to $9 for a fish sandwich. Main plates with sides $14 - $18. Grab and go.
16 Blake St, Charleston, SC
5. The Porchetta Shop
A new addition to Charleston, this small eatery is big on flavor and character. A gorgeous interior with counter service. Featuring focaccia (sooo good) Italian-style sandwiches with slow roasted in-house local whole pigs the star plus other rotisserie meats, sides, salads, proper espresso drinks, beer & wine. Don't overlook the Eggplant in Scapece Sandwich, it is a favorite of ours. Prices range from $9 to $14. Take it to-go or enjoy at one of the counter bars (standing only).
109 President St, Charleston SC
6. Le Chambertin
A tiny authentic French bakery / Cafe with outdoor seating only. All house-made with a changing menu. Think quiche and sandwiches on croissants and baguettes plus pastry items. We have tried nearly everything and loved every bit. $11 - $15.
113 Church St, Charleston, SC
7. Queen St Grocery
From the street it looks a little iffy. That is part of the charm. You will also notice the sidewalk seats always full of locals. This local staple serves hot pressed gourmet sandwiches, crepes, smoothies and salads. It is not, as the name implies, a grocery store. It does, however, have a small cooler section with grab and go essential food items and a selection of wines. My favorite is the Happy Houdini. Indoor and outdoor sidewalk seating. Pricing $12 - $14
133 Queen St, Charleston, SC
8. Mercato at Sorelle
A newer addition to Broad Street (2023) and an instant local and tourist favorite. The Mercato portion is an Italian deli meets coffee and bakery. The most upscale vibe of any on this list, the 3 recently renovated and adjoined historic buildings it occupies makes for a gorgeous backdrop to your quick lunch bite. The Mercato is on the first floor and unlike it’s full service restaurant upstairs, requires no reservations. Salads, Sandwiches, Sicillian-style pizza slices, plus treats. My favorites include the Stromboli $8 and the Meatball or Chicken Sandwich $16. (The coffee and treats are also delicious). Indoor and outdoor sidewalk seating.
90 Broad St, Charleston, SC
9. The Pass
Helmed by a fine dining, little bit crazy (in a good way), Italian chef who decided to open a sandwich shop. Fantastic and innovative, huge sandwiches. Mainly a take-out. Average $15. Limited seating; indoor and out.
207-A St Philip St, Charleston, SC
10. 60 Bull
A small cafe located in the Harleston Village side of Charleston offering an extensive menu. Selection of sandwiches ranging from a Black-Bean Burger to a Confit Duck BLT to a Flounder, Shrimp or Oyster Po-Boy to a Fried Chicken Sandwich and everything in between. There are also salads, tacos, and seafood plates as well as chops, chicken, ribs and shrimp and grits. Sandwiches $14-20, Main Plates average $30. Indoor & outdoor sidewalk seating.
60 Bull St, Charleston, SC
BONUS: 4 More Local Lunch Favorites that are more Widely Known:
When it comes to where locals eat lunch in Charleston we can not leave out favorite spots that are also more widely known and perhaps fall on the heavier tourist path. These spots are still loved and offer a unique dining experience. Three casual places with a large local lunch following are Lewis BBQ, Rodney Scott BBQ and Rancho Lewis. And, one that reigns supreme for locals at lunch with a resort casual or nicer attire is Magnolia's. These are ALL favorites of mine as well.
The list of 10 Places Where Locals Eat Lunch in Charleston
Fast & French
Queen St Grocery
Mercato at Sorelle
All of the Coffee Cafes on my "5 Best Coffee Shops in Charleston" also serve quick lunches. AND, several of the restaurants in the list of 20 Best Restaurants in Downtown Charleston SC from a Local also serve lunch (including 2 BBQ picks and a Tex-Mex pick)
Where Locals Enjoy Lunch in Charleston: Heading to the Parks
Where do Charleston locals enjoy their Grab and Go lunches from the list of top 10 lunch spots? The answer lies in the city's abundance of parks. Among them, notable locations include The Battery, also known as White Point Gardens, Colonial Lake, Waterfront Park, and Washington Square located conveniently off Meeting Street.
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