Workhorse with no name

No Name Deli keeps Columbia in line

No Name's ordering system is supposed to be speedy/ Photos by Michael Stern
No Name's ordering system is supposed to be speedy/ Photos by Michael Stern
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No Name Deli is neither a fine dining destination nor a hidden gem. It is not in the running to win any prestigious awards. Yet it is as compelling a part of downtown Columbia, South Carolina as the State House or the Tunnelvision mural. Its renown derives not from grandeur or artistry, but from its quick lunches and brash attitude. Many who work in the capital city consider it Old Reliable.

It’s a street corner cafĂ© that doesn’t mind bragging. On one of the building’s exterior walls, bright red letters spell out a quote from an unidentified critic who said it serves the “Best Greek Salad in the Carolinas.” A dining room wall has been painted with a Welcome to Columbia cityscape that shows a panoramic view of downtown and announces that the restaurant is one of “Two Carolina Traditions,” the other being Pepsi, which was created in North Carolina. No Name Deli occupies a conspicuous spot in the painting’s foreground.

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