Posted by The LunchMen Thursday, October 14, 2010

From time to time, people (including Mrs. Tank) question 1) whether beer and lunch really go together and 2) whether I should order a beer at lunch on a random Tuesday.  My answer: 1) of course they do, and 2) of course I should.  I’m not suggesting that you should drink three beers at lunch - unless you are about to go play 18 holes instead of going back to the office.  However, one beer should not throw you off your game unless you have the fortitude of Frodo (i.e. a 15-year-old girl).  In Frodo’s case, beer for lunch is a game changer, and he should avoid it at all cost to prevent professional humiliation.

Most people don’t scoff at wine and food pairings, and beer should be no different.  Rather, I’d bet that most things you eat at lunch in our fair city would pair better with beer than any wine.  Turkey sandwich with Pinot Gris?  Blah.  Turkey Sandwich with Shiner Bock?  Delicious.  Try having your beer brought out at the same time as your food at lunch, not before, so that you don’t chug it prematurely and so that the temperature stays right.  If you’ve got a lunch including of a lot of cheese or bread, you’ll be glad to have a beer that brightens it up instead than a sugary soda or a sweet tea, I promise.   Below you will see my top 25 beer for lunch pairings, in reverse order (unlike my companions, I can commit to a meaningful order).  This list focuses on pairings that are available at lunch, and I admit my list would look pretty different if we were talking Columbia dinners.  If you know of any good beer for lunch pairings I have not tried, shoot us a line so I can give it a go.

25.       The Kingsman: Grilled Beef Tips paired with Killian’s Irish Red Ale is a fine order when the pork chop special is not available at the Kingsman.

24.       Liberty Tap Room: Try the Dixie Chicken Sandwich paired with Liberty’s Unfiltered Wheat if you want to experience one of Liberty’s house beers.

23.       Mr. Friendly’s: Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits paired with Thomas Creek River Falls Red Ale is an excellent business lunch option with a local focus.

22.       M-Cafe: Sizzling Flank Steak paired with Sapporo lager is the best non-sushi beer for lunch pairing at M-Cafe.

21.       Casa Linda: I go for Soft Chicken Tacos paired with Dos Equis Amber – and I like lots of both.  Dos Equis is an easy session beer, and it makes you more interesting.

20.       Blue Marlin: Try the Southern Crispy Chicken Salad paired with Stella Artios lager, right after you enjoy a cup of the best she-crab soup in town.

19.       The Pizza Joint: Carnivore Pizza paired with Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale is a delicious duo, but it will ruin your diet and put you in a post-lunch coma.

18.       Carolina Ale House: Ordering the Greek Chicken Pita Wrap paired with Hoegaarden Belgium White Ale is a nice meal to enjoy on the outdoor top deck.

17.       Vella’s Restaurant and Tavern: Vella’s Beef Patty Melt sandwich paired with Sam Adam’s Boston Lager is the perfect play at an unpretentious spot like Vella’s.

16.       Panjabi Dhaba: Lamb Korma paired with Kingfisher lager is my favorite Indian meal – don’t be scared to turn the heat up on the korma and order an extra Kingfisher to douse the flames.

15.       The Mouse Trap: The Boneless Chicken Breast lunch special with Yuengling Lager is great.  However, you’ve got to stay on top of the lunch special calendar to know when to go.

14.       Cock-N-Bull: Tavern Wings paired with Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale is the top wing pairing you can make for lunch in Columbia (until the Publick House decides to do lunch).

13.       Solstice: Having a side of the Skillet Baked Smoked Gouda-Applewood Bacon Mac & Cheese paired with Chimay Blue is an indulgent experience – you’ve got to have it once.

12.       Delaney’s: Fish and Chips paired with Warsteiner Verum is a masterful play if you want to take advantage of the BOGO lunch at Delaney’s.

11.       Thirsty Fellow: Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich paired with Franziskaner Hefe Weiss is a refreshing pairing, and its much quicker than waiting on the pizza at the Fellow.

10.       Pawley’s Front Porch: Going for the Fripp Island Burger paired with a Shipyard IPA combines the best of South Carolina’s and Maine’s coasts.

9.         Dano’s: The White Calzone w/ meatballs paired with Bass Ale is the only lunch order I have made at Dano’s in a long time.  They are slow in the prep, but the 'zone is worth it.

8.         Golden Chopstix: To my knowledge, the excellent pairing of Green Curry paired with Laotian Beerlao can only be found in town at this West Columbia institution.

7.         Tio’s Cafe: Tio’s Wet Burrito paired with Modelo Especial is delicious and sure to give you hours of heartburn.

6.         Sly Fox: The Smothered Steak Sandwich paired with Highland Gaelic Ale will be best enjoyed on a cold winter lunch, so wait for it to cool off some more.

5.         TakoSushi: Try the Unforgettable Roll paired with Kirin Ichiban – the Kirin cuts nicely through the cream cheese in the roll making for a balanced experience.

4.         Mojito’s: The Chimichurri French Dip paired with La Tropical Cuban pilsner is a perfect fit in the relaxed, island atmosphere of Mojito’s.  I like to face the “ocean” while it enjoy it.

3.         Flying Saucer: The sinfully excessive Saucer Bratzel paired with Ayinger Brau-Weisse is only for the truly bold at a lazy Friday lunch or while watching a late night football game.

2.         Hunter Gatherer: H-G’s Burger topped with Beer Cheese and paired with H-G’s house ESB is about as good as beer pairing gets in Columbia.  

1.         Julia’s German Stammtisch: Julia’s killer Reuben Sandwich paired with Spaten Optimator Dopplebock transports you straight to Munich, saving you lots of $$$ on airfare.

- Tank


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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.


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