You’re sitting at your desk in the middle of a long work week debating lunch options. That Tupperware full of leftovers isn’t going to do the trick and neither is a sandwich from the corner store. It’s a day where an extended break is in order, and others in the office seem to agree. There are plenty of Charleston restaurants providing the chance for a fancy dinner, but sometimes it can be tough finding the perfect lunch spot. Don’t worry, we’ve done the leg work for you — go ahead, surround yourself with dishes that excite, and enjoy the escape from reality. You deserve it.
This hidden Meeting Street restaurant recently transitioned to a focus on Indian cuisine, and the group that’s also behind Xiao Bao Biscuit is imparting their outside-the-box mentality to the new menu. The vibe is fun, funky, and playful with shareable dishes that arrive on large platters. Their take on vada pav, the fried potato sandwich that’s a go-to street snack in Mumbai, is one dish that can’t be missed, while the crisp yet tender kulcha bread is the ideal vehicle to test out spicy lamb with peas or chicken curry. The barkeep is sure to be shaking up a funky cocktail, like the Thums Up cola, Meletti Amaro, and fenugreek Aloysious Sour, and guests looking to stay booze-free can cool down with a mango lassi.
In the mood for a burger? Might as well clock out and dive into one that’s been deemed one of the best in the nation. Little Jack’s has that cozy neighborhood feel with an extra touch of class, which their extensive cocktail menu full of old school classics reflects. The burger isn’t the only reason to come to Jack’s, as the shrimp burger and crab roll serve as delicious deviations from the classic.
Grab a friend for this one, as the Parisian style café menu is best enjoyed with a companion. Wine is a must, whether it’s a bubbly glass of Cava or a fruit forward Cab Franc. In-store cheesemongers offer a curated selection from regional producers or European artisans, with selections served on picturesque boards, allowing for a quick Instagram story during your midday getaway. From there, try a bowl of French onion soup with bubbly gruyere or the daily quiche with a side salad.
The walls are adorned with art in this beautiful modern eatery that’s decked out with a Champagne bar in the back. The sky is the limit at Tradd’s, as lump crab cocktail, escargot, and a caviar service, all available at lunch, provide added elegance, mirroring the ambiance. If it’s not a refined salad or sandwich after appetizers, then head for the decadent lobster gnocchi.
Babas on Cannon
Old world European cafés were the inspiration for Babas on Cannon, meaning that the menu varies depending on the time of day. Settle in for lunch with daytime macchiatos and fresh squeezed pomegranate juice before indulging in a brioche grilled cheese with gruyere or a fresh shrimp salad that’s topped with a soft-boiled egg. You’ll want to extend your lunch break a little longer to make time for a slice of banana bread or pound cake before heading back into the office.
Every aspect of The Dewberry hotel is thoughtfully curated, as the aesthetic hits the sweet spot meshing comfort and class, and their restaurant, Henrietta’s, is no exception. Southern influence meets French technique with adventurous dishes like the crisp sweetbreads with parmesan grits, while diners looking for a familiar main executed to perfection can order a wood-grilled burger, steak, or chicken breast. Daily specials like the Thursday fried chicken sandwich keep things interesting, as do the craft cocktails. You’ll be hard pressed to not call in sick and book a room upstairs after this lunchtime excursion.
This miniature restaurant is an intimate retreat to Southern France, and guests will have to take to Instagram to preview the daily offering from chef Jill Mathias. The atmosphere is relaxed, in part because of the simplicity of the menu. Mathias beautifully handwrites the menus each day, offering six options — two appetizers, two mains, and two desserts — that the waitstaff will happily explain to you.
Italian flavors have a new life at Le Farfalle, where Michael Toscano mans the kitchen. Whipped ricotta with honey and ceci in umido — Italy’s version of hummus — offers guests a shareable snack while they settle into the unpretentious space. For lunch, Italian classics like chicken saltimbocca are transformed into sandwich form, although you’ll be hard pressed to not order pasta — the fettuccini with salame calabrese and shaved Brussels sprouts is just one of five can’t miss options.