20+ Lunch Destinations in Columbia, SC

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20+ Lunch Destinations in Columbia, SC

This guide highlights the best places to eat lunch in Columbia, SC. It includes deli sandwiches, delicious salads, burger specials and more.

Exterior of Publico restaurant in Five Points, Columbia, SC. Burger from Market on Main in Columbia, SC. Outdoor tables on sidewalk in front of The Gourmet Shop in Columbia, SC. Sandwich from Enzo's Deli in Five Points

There are plent of delicious lunch options scattered through Columbia, offering everything from an upscale dining experience to a quick BBQ sandwich, epic Italian sub and charming sidewalk seating.

What You’ll Find In This Article

Where To Get Lunch In Columbia

There are so many great eateries in the area worth trying, so be sure to check out our list of over 20 awesome restaurants in Columbia. But if you’re specifically looking for lunch in Columbia, read on!

Best Cafes For Lunch In Columbia, SC

When it comes to lunch, what can be better than a cafe atmosphere with delicious food? If that sounds like your kind of place you will be in good hands at any of these local Columbia cafes.

Casual cafe with gourmet lunch fare

Enjoy a relaxing lunch from James Beard semifinalist Chef Jessica Shillato’s restaurant Spotted Salamander. Located on a historic tree-lined street in downtown Columbia, this casual cafe is perfect for those who appreciate food that is taken up a notch (think: house bacon jam on their burgers.)

Open only for lunch on weekdays, Spotted Salamander is a perfect spot to meet an old friend or go on a lunch date. We can highly recommend their Friday burger special and be sure to check out their desserts.

Cafe in Five Points with sidewalk seating

If you’re looking for lunch at a sidewalk cafe, look no further than The Gourmet Shop in Five Points. They have great outdoor seating on the wide sidewalk and an indoor cafe space if the weather isn’t cooperating.

Tables are first come first serve. They have an awesome marketplace full of fun kitchen and pantry finds that you can browse while waiting.

Lunch is served daily and brunch is available daily from 9am until noon. You can’t go wrong with their chicken salad on a croissant with their tomato basil pasta salad. Their seasonal green salad with chicken salad on top is also a great choice. It comes with an awesome dijon vinaigrette.

Local deli near Devine Street

Located on Millwood Avenue on the edge of the Melrose Heights neighborhood you’ll find Crave Cafe and Market. This cute neighborhood cafe has some of the best sandwiches in town.

They keep the menu simple with soups, salads and sandwiches but make up for it in flavor. Try their Rosewood Reuben or Carlisle Korean Pulled Pork sandwich and you’ll see what we mean.

Everything is so fresh tasting and you can tell that it is made with care.

Vegan-leaning lunch downtown

Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, Good Life Café is a great stop for a delicious and healthy lunch menu.

They were originally a plant-based restaurant, so they have a ton of vegan lunch options on the menu. From smoothies and salad bowls to sandwiches and wraps, they have you covered.

We really like their specialty dishes, like the stuffed portobello mushrooms and their vegan buffalo cauliflower bites.

Cafe with pimento cheese and deli sandwiches

DiPrato’s is a neighborhood café and deli located near USC’s campus on Pickens Street. It’s a perfect spot for lunch in Columbia with casual indoor seating and a nice patio.

They offer signature sandwiches, hot panini sandwiches, salads, and build-your-own sandwiches.

You can’t go wrong with any of their lunch offerings, but do yourself a favor and try their fresh fried pita chips with their pimento cheese!

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Best Lunch Spots for a Sandwich in Columbia, SC

The delis below are all great for a quick lunch, and one even specializes in cinnamon rolls if you need dessert with your lunch. All of the delis mentioned below are on our best delis in Columbia list. Make sure to check it out if you also appreciate a great sandwich!

Cafeteria-style deli near downtown

No Name Deli is an unassuming cafeteria-style deli with great sandwiches, sides and salads. It is a local favorite that gets quite busy during the lunch rush.

Located on the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Marion Streets, it’s a bit off the beaten path but convenient to get to.

They have epic sandwiches made in front of you at the counter, as well as delicious chicken and pasta salad. And don’t miss one of the best Greek salads in Columbia.

They’re only open on weekdays so make sure you plan accordingly!

Splitting the difference between breakfast and lunch, The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli offers up some of the best deli sandwiches Columbia has to offer.

Cinnamon Roll Deli has a menu full of specialty sandwiches and paninis as well as mouthwatering hotdogs with fun toppings.

You may not think of a coffee shop for lunch, but WOW Drip’s sandwiches are awesome. You can get both their breakfast and lunch menu all day and trust us, you can’t go wrong!

All of their food is just a little bit elevated to make it special. Like, the grilled cheese includes a mushroom ragu. They even have a peanut butter and jelly but on cinnamon raison bread. An elevated PB&J!

For a traditional Italian deli sandwich in Columbia, you have to check out Enzo’s Delicatessen. This New York-style deli is located in Five Points near the USC campus.

Enzo’s huge subs are a Columbia lunch favorite with hot and cold options. They also make their own Italian desserts and have a small Italian market for quick snacks and kitchen staples.

While they don’t have indoor seating, they do have outdoor tables, so make sure you check the weather if you plan to stay and eat.

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Upscale Lunch Restaurants in Columbia, SC

Southern cafe in Five Points

Mr. Friendly’s is hands down one of the best restaurants in Columbia for lunch and dinner. You’ll find southern cuisine and an easy, laid-back atmosphere.

For lunch, we recommend fried green tomatoes! We also recommend them for dinner, too. The tomatoes come with pimento cheese and it’s a delightful dish.

You’ll also find a shrimp po boy, their famous Friendly Burger (with gouda!), buttermilk fried chicken and several salads. Another fun entree is the fried grits salad made with local Columbia Adluh flour!

Outdoor seating in downtown Columbia

Market on Main is a lively, upbeat restaurant and market located in the heart of downtown Columbia, SC. Their lunch menu includes sandwiches, burgers and salads and they even have a grab’n-go market section if you are short on time.

We love Market on Main for lunch in downtown Columbia because they have an awesome outdoor patio, a great burger special with Russian dressing and you can even opt for a half sandwich and a side.

Charming Italian restaurant on Devine Street

If you’re looking for a cute neighborhood Italian restaurant for lunch, Il Giorgione is the place for you. They have delicious pizzas, sandwiches and pasta on their lunch menu.

Il Giorgione’s quaint alley patio area beside the restaurant makes for the perfect lunch spot on days when the weather is nice.

Tucked away in a small space on Devine Street it is still a hidden gem to many even after being open since 2012.

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Casual Lunch Restaurants in Columbia, SC

If you are looking for a sit-down lunch but don’t necessarily want an upscale atmosphere, these casual restaurants that serve lunch will hit the spot. 

Tacos, quesadillas, burritos and salads in Five Points

Just across Greene Street from the Five Points fountain, Publico is a popular restaurant serving Latin-Asian-inspired food.

They have a ton of sandwiches, tacos, burritos and ramen dishes on the menu. And if you’re going on Sunday they have an excellent brunch!

They have large roll-up doors in the front of the restaurant and a hidden patio in the back.

Brunch tacos from Publico in Five PointsBrunch tacos from Publico in Five Points Burger from Publico in Five PointsBurger from Publico in Five Points

Local burger restaurant in Five Points

Pawleys Front Porch is a casual burger joint in Five Points that serves handmade burgers stacked high with toppings. You can choose from one of their SC beach town-themed signature burgers or build your own.

Relax on their front porch with a burger, fries and a beer for a great Five Points experience. But be careful — you may be tempted to hang out the rest of the afternoon.

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Awesome BBQ Joints for Lunch

Yep, BBQ gets its own category on our lunch list. But who doesn’t like a good BBQ sandwich for lunch?

Columbia has some of the best BBQ restaurants around, and most are great for lunch. Below we have listed out some of our favorite spots for great BBQ and atmosphere.

BBQ Buffet near Williams Brice Stadium

Hidden gem alert! And ‘hidden’ is an accurate description. You won’t accidentally stumble across it– Doc’s is located in Columbia’s Shop Road industrial area near Williams Brice Stadium.

It’s worth a visit though because Doc’s consistently serves up some of the best BBQ in Columbia. It’s a lunch-only restaurant, by the way!

Their BBQ buffet is a crowd favorite where you can try all the meats and sides you can dream of. You can also order BBQ sandwiches or baskets.

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