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May 21, 2007 04:21 PM

One Lunch In Charleston - Need Recs!


My husband and I will be in Charleston for 1 day and only for a lunch meal so we wanted to make the most of it. I did some searching but a lot of the recs on here are for restaurants that are only open for dinner (FIG, McGrady, Peninsula Grill). So far I have only found info for SNOB, Jestine's and Hominy Grill. We wanted to eat somewhere that has good atmosphere, near the downtown, maybe near the water, and most importantly with good food, especially seafood.

SNOB looks interesting but I am bit put off by the Pad Thai and the Tuna Nori Rolls and Hominy and Jestine's doesn't look like the atmosphere we were looking for. Any thoughts?

Any other recommendations out there? Thanks!

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  1. I reccomend 39 Rue St. Jean right off king street. It's french...but I've been many times and have enjoyed it every time. The burgers there are AMAZING!!! They grind their own meat and will cook it as rare as you want it. They serve it on a brioche bun and the fries are superb. They are known for their mussels, which are good, though not my favorite. They also serve sushi...don't let this put off because it's some of the best sushi I've ever had. You can sit outside or inside, though if it's nice I would most definently sit outside. I'm European, and the atmosphere is the closest to a french bistro I've seen in the south. Service is great too. are right next to a great gelateria (Paolo's) and on King, there's a great cupcake place called (you guessed it) cupcake. Anyway...this is my choice for atmosphere and food.

    1. The wife and I had lunch at Basil while we were honeymooning-- we sat at the kitchen bar (which is separated from the dining room by glass, interestingly enough...) Pretty good thai food. I had duck larb, which was quite tasty, and a smokin' hot green curry. I can't remember what my wife had-- tom yum, maybe? Anyway, definitely worth a stop for lunch. SNOB was pretty good, too... great service, good margarita, excellent charcuterie plate. Didn't see nori or pad thai, though...

      2 Replies
      1. re: HeelsSoxHound

        I, along with just about everybody else, would rate both SNOB and Basil far, far better than "pretty good".

        1. re: uptown jimmy

          I don't think my OP was denigrating either place... they are both excellent lunch spots. we had really good meals.

      2. I must respectfully disagree with the 39 Rue de Jean recommendation. Once, it was good but has slipped into mediocrity in the past couple of years. Their chef is opening his own place on Johns Island. "Rue" as it is called by the hipsters is a place to see and be seen (not so much for good food).

        Jestines is over rated but not bad (not all that authentic in most respects). Hominy Grill is pretty bad in my opinion. I did have a good vegetarian dish there once but every other meal has been a disappointment. However, just across the street from Hominy is a FANTASTIC lunch/dinner spot called Lana. This has been the new and improved home of the former Cafe Lana for the last few years. They have a good wine selection, good food that is occasionally very good and courteous service.

        Other good lunch spots are Cru Cafe, High Cotton, Basil, Blossom (sometimes), Magnolias (most of the time), and yes, SNOB.

        4 Replies
        1. re: CharlestonChow

          I actually was just at "rue" and I really enjoyed my meal there. I still highly reccomend it.

          1. re: CharlestonChow

            i've had lovely lunches at Magnolia. Hanks has also served me well with nice seafood -- not sure whether they are open for lunch, too, though.

            1. re: keech6

              It's been a couple of years since I've been to Charleston, but Poogan's Porch on King ST served a quite nice & reasonably priced lunch.....although they're much more of a dinner restaurant...try them & see!

              1. re: Foodman53

                If I had one lunch in Charleston, I'd not go with anything but a local institution -- and SNOB, regardless of the two menu items that were off putting, does fit the best for what the OP is looking for overall. Have Shrimp and Grits.

                French bistro and Thai would not really be what I was looking for regardless of how good they may be.

                I'd stay away from Poogan's Porch, Magnolia, might consider Blossom but never really wow-ed there, 82 Queen likewise. Hank's doesn't do lunch or I would recommend that. High Cotton does Saturday lunch and Sunday brunch only.

                Had a mediocre brunch at Hominy Sunday -- very unimpressive, and remembered too late that was our reaction the last time we tried it a few years ago. Same with Jestines -- starting to remind me of Paula Deen's ..

                Tristan's has a stellar crab cake and the atmosphere is very sleek -- DD and I had brunch there a couple of weeks ago at the recommendation of CHs here. That might fit the bill perhaps? But I'd still go with SNOB ...

          2. My first rec is Cru Cafe, think comfort food with a twist. They have great food, and although the view leaves a lot to be desired you can sit outside on the porch.

            Fleet Landing is on the water, and you are able to sit outside. They serve seafood, but IMO you go there for the view not the food. The food is good, but not the best of what Charleston has to offer.

            Tristan is another option, I haven't been, but everyone I know who has raves about the food.

            4 Replies
            1. re: lizzy

              The only problem with Cru Cafe is it's about the size of a postage stamp. Jestine's is a bit heavy for lunch and always packed with tourists, and Hominy Grill has started to slip of late. Poogan's Porch hasn't been good in years...

              All in all, I'd pick SNOB for best Charleston lunch spot.

              1. re: Jeff C.

                SNOB is hands down the #1 choice for lunch (and, incidentally, the Pad Thai and Nori rolls are both excellent), with Cru Cafe a nice second choice. The Mills House is underrated and has a beautiful room and pretty good food. Hominy has fantastic press, but the food is a little over rated, and it not on the beaten path and usually has a wait. Jestine's is fun, but more tourist oriented now (although "Co-cola Cake" makes it worth it if you don't have to wait).

                1. re: DavidA

                  I would second the vote for SNOB, but I would point out that the backyard garden at 82 Queen is lovely. I have had a couple of very pleasant afternoons there.

                  1. re: BernieMSY

                    I have never in my life been more insulted by a restaurant experience than by lunch at 82 Queen. Truly awful food and service.

            2. Thank you all for the great recs. My sister-in-law recommended Magnolia, so we are wavering between her rec and the ones for SNOB here. Any thoughts on which is better? Thanks so much!

              2 Replies