Going out to eat isn't always about cravings. Often enough, mealtimes dictate our choices, limiting restaurant possibilities. When circumstances narrow the options, let 10Best help. We'll direct you to the best Lunch restaurants in Columbia and save you the hassle of calling around for business hours. 10Best readers find much to enjoy at Doc's Barbeque & Southern Buffet thanks to its all-around good offerings. It's also hard to beat Di Prato's, which serves just what you're looking for when you're in the market for a great Lunch.


An elegant shop that brings out the gourmand in everyone! You'll find shelves stocked with fine wines, aged cheeses, specialty coffees, gourmet items, made-in-the-South foods, cigars and kitchen accessories. The store also boasts a wonderful little café where you can fill up on creative sandwiches such as a goat cheese and sun-dried tomato pesto panini, or Black Forest ham on French bread with Nicoise olives, cornichons, Dijon, lettuce and tomato (served with a side like dill potato salad, deviled egg, pasta salad or cole slaw). Not in the mood for a sandwich? Opt for a salad or a cheese and pâté plate. Finish with a house-baked cookie or brownie.

Read more about The Gourmet Shop →

In the restaurant biz, longevity is usually an indication of reliability. Villa Tronco has been around for 60+ years and continues to be popular – lunch is a little less busy, so if you're looking for a substantial midday meal this is a great choice. The crab cakes, drizzled with roasted red pepper sauce, are fantastic (for a light meal, try a crab cake atop a spinach salad). Burgers get a fresh, Italian-style spin (topped with spinach, romano and fontina, or with prosciutto and mozzarella), or you can opt for a traditional main course such as chicken piccata, veal marsala, or lasagna.

Read more about Villa Tronco →

With a warm Tuscan color palette, Travinia artfully achieves a place as one of Columbia's most appealing, unpretentious restaurants. Efficient servers accommodate guests, who relax to top-quality food and conversation as Rat Pack vocalists croon in the background. Traditional dishes include saltimbocca, scallops and shrimp pancetta, seafood pescatora and chicken piccata; grilled steaks and beautifully composed salads also find a place. Cap everything with a classic cannoli or a serving of tiramisu.

Read more about Travinia Italian Kitchen →


Brightly colored, lively and punctuated with giant smiling mushrooms, this Southeastern chain welcomes everyone, from students to families. Stone-baked pizzas come in three sizes, and you can even score individual slices at lunch. Fashion your own from a list of toppings, or go with their standards, which include Jerk Chicken, the Gourmet White, Chicken Cordon Bleu, the Mighty Meaty and the House Pesto. Hoagies, calzones and salads round out the offerings, along with draft microbrews and plenty of bottled beers.

Read more about Mellow Mushroom →

Heading to Doc's for lunch? Bring your appetite, because this is one big, hearty buffet. Along with barbecue, fried catfish and fried chicken, this place is loaded with an abundance of down-home sides like collards, mac and cheese, rice, baked beans, green beans, slaw and potato salad. Plus banana pudding and a cobbler for dessert. No way you're leaving hungry. Also open on Gamecock football Saturdays.

Read more about Doc's Barbeque & Southern Buffet →

A small, family-owned fast food chain with roots back to the 1940s, Rush's is where you go when you want a quick, inexpensive meal that doesn't involve a clown, a crown or dancing cows. Options are basic but good: burgers, chili dogs, BBQ sandwiches, fried chicken, fries, cole slaw, and soft-serve ice cream for dessert.

Read more about Rush's →

University Of South Carolina

Another enterprise from the owners of Dianne's on Devine, this gourmet sandwich shop is a step above customary lunch fare. It's a bit off the usual tourist's radar, which is a good thing because the line-ups at lunch are above average (although they do move quickly). The signature sandwiches are downright fantastic: a triple-decker reuben, an oyster po' boy, grilled portabella with fresh spinach and pesto mayo, Italian hoagies, and more. Or design your own from a vast list of ingredients. You could eat here every day for weeks and not have the same sandwich twice.

Read more about Di Prato's →