Monday, March 24, 2014

Charleston: Where to Have Lunch

Since I was in Charleston from Monday until Thursday and breakfast was always at the hotel I ate 6 meals out. That's a lot of food reviewing to take in in one post, so here's where my mom and I had lunch! We found that what everyone says about eating in Charleston is true: it's very hard to find a bad meal. Every single restaurant, no matter what the price range is, is decorated so nicely. Most places have white tablecloths and the decor is so tasteful and unique. I guess that fact that the buildings are so old helps add character, but none of the restaurants appear old at all. They all must have been renovated relatively recently.

Tip for dining in Charleston: always make reservations. Almost every place takes them and they're almost necessary at 90% of the restaurants if you want to eat any time before 8:45. I even advocate making lunch reservations.

Right after we checked in to The Elliott House Inn we beelined it for lunch because we were starving. First stop? Magnolias on East Bay St.

I had the grilled vegetable wrap- portobellos, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, red onion, sprouts, spinach, fresh mozzarella, habanero hummus, and pecan pesto. It comes with your choice of a side, so I got the collard greens. Everything was good, but I do have to say that I didn't taste any habanero hummus (basically the reason I chose to order this wrap) and it could have used more than a teaspoon of the pecan pesto (the other part of the reason I ordered it). The presentation was nice and it didn't fall apart on me, though, so aside from those two little complaints I enjoyed my meal.
My mom got the Charleston crab cake sandwich with green tomato-caper tartar sauce and a side of jalapeƱo-peach coleslaw. She really enjoyed the meal and it seems that the coleslaw is the best side choice here for lunch.
Magnolias was very good, but nothing to write home about. The service was great, but I couldn't tell you when it wasn't the whole trip. The people were all so genuinely nice. 
Mommy and I still happy even after being up at 6:30 am to head to the airport.

The next day we had lunch at Caviar and Bananas up on George Street, right across the street from the College of Charleston. My friend was having lunch there and texted me that she completely forgot to mention this place and the kale salad is amazing. It's set up where you go to different stations and can build your own salad, sushi, etc. type of thing. They also have pre-made things, which is where the kale salad is and my mom got pan fried tofu, an Asian BBQ meatball, and a grain salad (I can't remember which one). I got the naked kale salad- kale, almonds, cranberries, blueberries, aged gouda, grape tomatoes, and lemon vinaigrette- and roasted asparagus. Everything we had was delish. I highly recommend this place for a quick, affordable lunch. You can see the full menu here.
They also sell grocery items in the center of the store where you can get everything from Bloody Mary Mix to pasta or olive oil.

Naked kale salad and roasted asparagus
In the marketplace there's also a little stand where you can get food from Caviar and Bananas! Fun fact: Blake Lively used them as a vendor for her wedding. Since I adore her it gave me all the more reason to try it out!

Our last lunch was at one of my friend's two favorite restaurants: Cru Cafe. From the looks of the outside of this place I don't think I'd really be enticed to try it, but apparently it's getting really popular and the concierge at my the Elliott House said he highly recommended it and it was possibly his favorite place to eat.

It's super tiny inside, so definitely make reservations for any meal here, especially if you're planning on eating during the "normal" lunch or dinner times (e.g. 11:30-2 and 5:30-8:30). That goes for most restaurants in Charleston, as I stated before. 

I got regular coffee, which was hazelnut flavored. I'm not sure if that's what they always have or if it changes, but I'm not too big on flavored coffees and theirs was good. It wasn't a really noticeable hazelnut flavor.

I got the Chinese chicken salad- julienne napa cabbage, carrots, peppers, daikon, red onion, and ginger dressing. Also, I ordered a side of the seared mushrooms. Everything was incredibly good. I was nervous about the size of the salad because in the pictures I had seen of it it didn't look very big, but it was quite large and filling. Also, it's hard to tell from pictures that there's chicken because it's all shredded, but there's enough chicken that you get some with every forkful. The mushrooms were so full of flavor and were the perfect texture. I think my mom ate 3 and I finished the rest, which was a lot. 

My mom got the 1/2 sandwich & a soup option. You can't choose any wraps as a sandwich if you do this, but they have plenty of yummy sandwich options. She chose the grilled marinated chicken club on sourdough bread. There were two soups that day: tomato bisque and some creamy mushroom soup. Clearly from the picture my mom chose the tomato. Both the sandwich and the soup were really good.

All of the three spots we went to had awesome menus and so many options that sounded good. If you're in the mood for a heavier meal then you're better off at a restaurant like Magnolias, but for a lighter, more normal sized lunch then Bananas and Caviar or Cru Cafe are for you! 

As I said, the service everywhere was great and the decor was always nice. When choosing a restaurant it's not so much a factor of what people said about it (because there really aren't bad reviews), but more of what the menu has and what you're in the mood for. 


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