Swiftwater Cafe – Downtown, Charleston, WV
There is a gem of a lunch spot on Washington Street in downtown Charleston. Loacted next to the old Daniel Boone Hotel, Swiftwater Cafe is serving sandwiches and salads to the Charleston’s labor force. This space was occupied by Big Ed’s Cafe until 5 years ago when Ed passed the business on to his son, Teddy. I found out about this place when I meet Teddy and his wife in the nursery at church almost three years ago. I always wanted to go, but Susan has this thing where she doesn’t feel like she has eaten anything unless it is hot. All I knew up to this point is that it served Boar’s Head meats. Boy have I missed out on some good lunches.
Swiftwater Cafe is giving a 110% effort towards producing great meals in this tiny store front. I don’t think they have missed a detail. There are a little more than 20 seats in the small dining space. A variety of ladder back chairs and solid wood tables dot the interior. The pale yellow walls are decorated with Teddy’s loves- fishing, whitewater rafting, and WV outdoor photography by Ron Snow. Two big Walleyes and a variety of rods and reels tells you that one day a “Gone Fishing” sign could be hanging on the door.
The menu consists of a couple daily specials, a variety of sandwiches, wraps, and sides. Pre-made salads and sandwiches can be grabbed from the cooler for a fast lunch. Today’s specials were the hot dog special and the Big Ed Hamburger. Ordering the hot dog special could potentially leave me sleeping with the fishes courtesy of the WV Hot Dog Blog. The choice between fries or roasted red potatoes sealed the deal for the Big Ed Burger at $4.99. The Big Ed is a 1/3 pound beef patty topped with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. This is all piled on a 5″ seeded bun. The trade off for the speed of service at Swiftwater is that the beef patty is precooked. I am fine with this trade off and the patty was good. The toppings were all fresh and high quality, especially the red onions. The bun was soft and held up to this volume of ingredients. It was not toasted or grilled, which is my preference although not required. The Big Ed is available on Wednesday and Friday. This place is small and rotating specials allows Teddy to serve a larger variety items and make sure the product is the best it can be.
Now the burger was good, but the roasted red potatoes are superb! Red new potatoes are quartered, seasoned with rosemary, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. They are roasted until they have those little spots of carmelization. Skip the fries and try these terfic tubers. I rounded off my meal with a Arnold Palmer (1/2 Tea and 1/2 lemonade) for $1.25.
I mentioned the speed of service. To say that Swiftwater serves its customers fast is an understatement. Buy the time you fill your drink and find your seat your order will be waiting for you in the window. Phil’s wife joined us late and I timed her hot dog combo order – one minute and 15 seconds from the time she left the register until the time her food was ready. Teddy knows his customers have a limited time for lunch, and trys to get them fed quickly. He knows many of his customers by name and took the time after the lunch rush to come meet us.
Swiftwater is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday from 7AM to 2PM. If you work in downtown Charleston or do business there, you need to stop by the FOUR Fork Swiftwater Cafe.
Swiftwater has been awarded several Weenie Awards over the past few years. Most recently the 2008 Weenie Awards: Best Downtown Charleston Hot Dog.
Charleston, WV 25301