Charleston’s Best Dive Bars
As Charleston’s tech scene heats up, the historical town of Charleston is becoming a hotspot for Digital Nomads and travelers alike. Although lavish bars and restaurants are popping up day by day, sometimes all you want is a grungy dive bar to meet new folks and throw back a couple of beers, ya know?
In my three years of living in Charleston, I’ve been able to choose my favorite dive bars in town, and these are my absolute favorites.
Ah, The Griffon. I’ve made many memories here. The bar food is good, but the true draw here is the novelty of posting your dollar bills on every inch of the bar. It’s almost a rite of passage in Charleston. Bring a few extra dollars to post on the walls and ask the bartender for the basket of markers and staple gun.
The menu is traditional pub fare, but the location is right within the historic district off East Bay street, only a few steps from the waterfront and several other eateries and attractions. The decor is dark and MAYBE has a grand total of 3 windows. Don’t go here if you expect lots of sun. Do go here if you’re ready to throw back a few brews and exchange stories from other locals and tourists alike.
First thing’s first. Sit down at the Tattooed Moose and order the Duck Fat Fries. Expect to find great southern bar food in an atmosphere to drink and eat with friends over a few rounds of beers. The Tattooed Moose is a place to tell stories in a familiar setting with lots of character. There are locations in Johns Island and Downtown.
The Tattooed Moose is like one of those secret hidden foodie havens disguised as a roadside tavern. I still catch myself daydreaming about their sandwiches…
The Royal American
The Royal American isn’t so royal in terms of decor or atmosphere, but what it lacks in sophistication, it exudes in down-home charm. Visit on a night where there’s live music playing and you’re sure to have a kickass time. Possibly the best thing about The Royal American is that it’s located in the Upper Peninsula area of Downtown Charleston so there’s less tourists and foot traffic, and a more local vibe. There’s even plenty of space to park your car!
If you’re looking for a true local watering hole, this is the place. Craft beers on tap, an eclectic scene of patrons, and spectacular bar food make this diamond in the rough shine. If you love craft beer and even better burgers, Moe’s Crosstown doesn’t disappoint. Pssst: try their famous BLT burger.
The Tin Roof
The first time I ever walked into the Tin Roof in the West Ashley neighborhood of Charleston, they had a movie playing on the projector on a bare wall in the corner. It was a terribly cheesy movie from the ’80’s about rival break dancers. Anyways, I came for the cheap drinks, stayed to watch the movie, and luckily got to order a few of their food options.
If pinball machines and dirty limericks written in the bathrooms is your thing – The Tin Roof is definitely your kinda bar.
Art’s Bar & Grill
Art’s is your local dive bar in Mount Pleasant, sandwiched between the Ravenel Bridge and pristine Shem Creek. When you’re in the mood for a more humble experience rather than overpriced cocktails down the road at Tavern & Table or Water’s Edge, head to this watering hole.
The best part about Art’s is their karaoke nights. I’ve been known to spend a few nights there with my friends belting out 80’s tunes and drinking cheap draft beer.
SKIP: Recovery Room
Recovery Room used to be a cool spot to drink PBR and shoot the shit, but honestly, now it’s just filled with overdressed (or should I say, underdressed if you know what I’m sayin’) College of Charleston students and long lines. Plus, it stinks. Not proverbially, it literally smells inside. Like overflowing toilet and sweaty bodies. Skip Recovery Room no matter how many trendy people tell you to go there, and go to any of the 5 bars mentioned above.