NO-NAME DELI, 2042 Marion Street

Posted by The LunchMen Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The quintessential lunch. Be prepared.

In a non-descript stucco building at the corner of Elmwood and Marion sits the No-Name Deli, a true Columbia landmark. Everyday from about 11:30 to 1:00 construction workers, lawyers, nurses, and senators all flock to this local eatery to enjoy some of the finest sandwiches and salads in town.

Diners should be prepared to order as soon as they join the line that wraps throughout the restaurant’s entrance and sometimes out the door. Workers behind the counter quickly move customers along, taking orders in a manner that would make the Soup Nazi proud. I’ve seen several unsuspecting diners nearly have a heart attack under the pressure when called on by the employees. Often the only response questions about the menu will get is a terse “look at the [menu] board!” As a result, the place lacks a little ambiance, and patrons must bring cash or check, as No Name does not accept cards (there is an ATM on site).

If all this sounds stressful, believe me, it’s worth it. The chicken, tuna, and shrimp salad are all unrivaled in the Capital City, and each can be ordered as a meal itself. All your other standard deli options are available, and the No-Name also boasts two different pasta salads – one a mayonnaise-based option and the other a vinegar recipe. Both are delicious. My personal favorite is their famous Greek salad with chicken (“best in the Carolinas”), which may be too big for one person. While I’m not a soup guy, these are also highly regarded and the No-Name features multiple options every day, along with a very popular chili.

To give you an idea of the variety available when you make this trip, a recent outing saw a group of four Lunchmen take down an egg salad on wheat with fries, a Greek burger, the aforementioned chicken Greek salad, and a club sandwich with pasta. Everyone left happy and full. And lunch can be done in 30 minutes, door to door, even when No Name is busy.

I’ve tried to think of places to compare it to for those of you who have never been, but in reality, it is incomparable to anything else around. The combination of long lines, “intense service,” bare surroundings, and almost embarrassingly good food creates a luncheon tour de force that will leave you coming back again and again for more – often times the very next day.

- Rabbit

No Name Delicatessen on Urbanspoon


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. I can't believe you actually like that place and the people of Columbia rave about that place. The owner or manager has to be the cheapest S-O-B in Columbia, have you actually looked at what deli meats he uses? His turkey label simply says "turkey" not "turkey breast" which is probably a dubious distinction and the ham he uses looks like a grade above cat food and a grade below what they serve at Alvin S. Glenn. All these "deli's" that people rave about are the cheapest most piss-poor excuse for a deli I've ever seen. I'd rather eat at Jersey Mike's which is saying much. If you want a great hot sandwich Pizza Man has the best Philly steak in town and right down the road at Dano's you can get the best meatball parm in town. Don't waste your time and money at No-Name, it's CHEAP FOR A REASON.

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. DITTO!


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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.