Market Street Deli and Salads
The quintessential Mom’s Diner of cartoons and comic strips is alive and well in historic downtown Charleston, SC and it goes by the name of Market Street Deli and Salads. Just west of Church Street next to T-Bonz and Kaminsky’s, Market Street Deli is the kind of place where you can get a warn smile; a fresh, hearty meal; and change on three five-dollar bills.
Amid Market Street’s tourist traps and phony visitor centers designed to separate visitors from their money, Market Street Deli is a beacon of downhome goodness. Open for breakfast and lunch, Raida Atway and her crew greet diners like family because they feel like family themselves. The staff has been with Atway and her husband for a decade or more so, when you step in the door it’s as if you’re stepping into their home. Their casa es su casa, so grab a seat and make yourself comfortable.
“I love to cook and I love seeing people happy,” she says.
Get Fresh at The Deli
at Market Street Deli and Salads is fresh and made to order. This is fresh, the way your mom meant fresh, wash your mouth out with soap fresh, Fresh Prince of Bel Air fresh, fresh out of the oven fresh. It’s made to order the way your mom would make it, just for you, because at Market Street Deli, you’re their favorite. (Don’t tell the others.) The server might even call you “dear” and point surreptitiously to the corner of your mouth where a piece of egg or bit of avocado is clinging.
If you’re a foodie on the hunt for a rue or remoulade, ginger sofrito or crème fraiche, pilgrim, you are in the wrong place. The menu at Market Street Deli is the kind of food a third grader could eat and pronounce – eggs, crab cakes, grits, sausage and gravy for breakfast; chicken melt, sloppy joe, Southwest shrimp wrap for lunch. Grab a soup and one of the many salad choices, named for Folly, Sullivan’s and Edisto beaches and filled with flavor boosters like caramelized onions and feta cheese or scallions, cucumber and shredded carrot.
Or, if you want to get crazy, order something complicated like a gyro, a Reuben or a Cuban. At Market Street Deli, that qualifies as complicated. Remember, this is
mom’s diner, and mom is too busy chatting up the company and cooing over babies and newly engaged couples to spend her time making up French names for ordinary dishes.
So Good You’ll Hug the Cook
At the end of your fresh and filling meal a lovely thing happens at Market Street Deli – they give you the bill. You can hardly eat at a greasy fast food chain for what a meal costs at Market Street Deli. Most of the lunches are less than nine bucks. The salads are eight. The most expensive item on the menu is a surf and turf breakfast – crab cake, sausage, egg on a biscuit with sausage gravy and bacon bits. That will set you back $11.99, leaving you plenty of cash to splurge at the City Market next door on a painted-rock door jam, brass Clemson belt buckle or authentic she-crab soup mix.
Read the Facebook reviews and you’ll see a pattern, a theme, summed up in this entry by a man named John Sumter. “I had the Surf & Turf for breakfast and it was amazing!!! Because it was sooooo good, I had to hug the cooks…”
You think anyone hugs the cook at Chez Nose-in-the-air? No, we hug our mom.
Support This Small Business and its Employees
And hey, while we’re on the subject, mom could use your help these days. You know, she doesn’t ask for much and she won’t complain because she doesn’t want to make you unhappy. Like most restaurants, particularly those that rely on visitors to our amazing city, Market Street Deli has been slobber knocked by the Covid crisis. They’re open now, mostly to keep the employees employed, but if you could just stop in for a meal you’d be helping them keep the rent paid and the lights on. You’d be doing a solid for a local business and putting a hearty, nutritious meal into your belly.
“Tell your friends and family,” says Raida. “I know they won’t be disappointed.”