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The Griffon
Andrew Cebulka

Hide From Valentine’s Day in These 11 Charleston Dive Bars

One bourbon, one scotch, one beer

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The Griffon
| Photo by Andrew Cebulka

The Holy City isn't exactly known for its seedy clubs and gritty bars, but there are a few places to get reasonably priced beers that haven't gone all Prohibition-era chic with the decor and drinks menu. Those over the whole craft cocktail movement or just want a no-frills break from $12 libations should take a look at one of these dives. A few might be hidden, the staffs might be surly, but the drinks are cheap.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Gene's Haufbrau

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817 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 225-4363
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A huge selection of beers, cheap chicken wings, and plenty of televisions make Gene's Haufbrau the go-to place for many in the Avondale neighborhood. As the oldest bar on this list, Gene's has stood since 1952.

2. Tin Roof

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1117 Magnolia Rd
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 571-0775

Tin Roof is a magical kingdom of tattooed ladies, music geeks, and food and beverage aficionados. The bartenders can make you a classic cocktail, a frozen libation, or pop the top on a can of beer. Tin Roof brings in some of the best rock/rap/indie shows in the Lowcountry. The kitchen cooks up some pretty mean hot dogs as well.

3. Tattooed Moose

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1137 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 277-2990
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The Tattooed Moose makes for a good choice of dives because the food is phenomenal — and reasonably priced. Share a basket of corn dogs with a friend for just $5 and wash it all down with a couple of PBR tall boys. Splurge on the duck club with duck fat fries if there's change to spare.

Tattooed Moose

4. The Royal American

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970 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 817-6925
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The Royal American could have easily opened as the Disney World of dive bars, as many were wary of its declarations of being a dive before day one, but the owners did a good job of making the space feel worn in and comfortable. The Royal American is now the place to go for giant cups of bourbon punch and exciting music acts.

5. Moe's Crosstown Tavern

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714 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 722-3287
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Moe's Crosstown Tavern is an institution in Charleston. Most of the staff have worked at the joint for over a decade, and they always remember a friendly face. Moe's a great selection of local draft beers, mountainous burgers, and a hangover-killing brunch.

6. The Commodore

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504 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29403

The Commodore took over the former music club Touch of Class and didn't change much. Vintage lounge seating, leather banquettes, and a small bar area with a jukebox surround the stage usually full of musicians. The drinks are affordable, the lighting is low, and the dance floor is usually packed.

7. Recovery Room

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685 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 727-0999

Recovery Room (Rec Room) is the grown-up's dive bar, thanks to its location away from the Upper King crowds and owner Chris "Boston" DiMattia's no nonsense attitude. Rec Room is also the largest seller of PBR in the country. Go for the cheap beer, and stay for the tater tot nachos.

8. Cutty's

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Bogard
Charleston, SC 29403

Bagard Street bar Cutty's is right across from pizza parlor D'allesandro's and seems right at home on that corner. It's dingy, windowless, and covered in cat memorabilia (the owner is a big fan of felines). Cutty's claims to be the largest seller of Fernet in South Carolina. Shots, anyone?

9. A.C.'s Bar & Grill

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A.C.'s slogan is "up all night," and they mean it — well, until the mandated 2 a.m. closing, but it does have a kitchen that stays open long past others on King. Many beers are less than $3, and the Champagne menu consists of Miller High Life. The staff might look surly, but they're actually a lovable bunch (unless you're acting like a jerk).

10. Burns Alley

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27 Burns Ln
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-6735
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"If you can find us, you'll never forget us" is the slogan for Burns Alley, and it's correct. Nestled off of King Street, this dive isn't the easiest to locate, but listen for live music, bustling crowds, and the pouring of cold beer, and it should lead down the side street (next to Five Guys) to Burns.

Burn's Alley

11. The Griffon Pub

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18 Vendue Range
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-1700
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The Griffon is a welcome respite from the tourist traffic on East Bay Street. The little dive bar near Waterfront Park started in 1996, which was also when the practice of stapling dollar bills to the wall began. Order the fish and chips to soak up all the local beers.

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1. Gene's Haufbrau

817 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407

A huge selection of beers, cheap chicken wings, and plenty of televisions make Gene's Haufbrau the go-to place for many in the Avondale neighborhood. As the oldest bar on this list, Gene's has stood since 1952.

817 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

2. Tin Roof

1117 Magnolia Rd, Charleston, SC 29407

Tin Roof is a magical kingdom of tattooed ladies, music geeks, and food and beverage aficionados. The bartenders can make you a classic cocktail, a frozen libation, or pop the top on a can of beer. Tin Roof brings in some of the best rock/rap/indie shows in the Lowcountry. The kitchen cooks up some pretty mean hot dogs as well.

1117 Magnolia Rd
Charleston, SC 29407

3. Tattooed Moose

1137 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
Tattooed Moose

The Tattooed Moose makes for a good choice of dives because the food is phenomenal — and reasonably priced. Share a basket of corn dogs with a friend for just $5 and wash it all down with a couple of PBR tall boys. Splurge on the duck club with duck fat fries if there's change to spare.

1137 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403

4. The Royal American

970 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403

The Royal American could have easily opened as the Disney World of dive bars, as many were wary of its declarations of being a dive before day one, but the owners did a good job of making the space feel worn in and comfortable. The Royal American is now the place to go for giant cups of bourbon punch and exciting music acts.

970 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403

5. Moe's Crosstown Tavern

714 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

Moe's Crosstown Tavern is an institution in Charleston. Most of the staff have worked at the joint for over a decade, and they always remember a friendly face. Moe's a great selection of local draft beers, mountainous burgers, and a hangover-killing brunch.

714 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403

6. The Commodore

504 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403

The Commodore took over the former music club Touch of Class and didn't change much. Vintage lounge seating, leather banquettes, and a small bar area with a jukebox surround the stage usually full of musicians. The drinks are affordable, the lighting is low, and the dance floor is usually packed.

504 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29403

7. Recovery Room

685 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403

Recovery Room (Rec Room) is the grown-up's dive bar, thanks to its location away from the Upper King crowds and owner Chris "Boston" DiMattia's no nonsense attitude. Rec Room is also the largest seller of PBR in the country. Go for the cheap beer, and stay for the tater tot nachos.

685 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403

8. Cutty's

Bogard, Charleston, SC 29403

Bagard Street bar Cutty's is right across from pizza parlor D'allesandro's and seems right at home on that corner. It's dingy, windowless, and covered in cat memorabilia (the owner is a big fan of felines). Cutty's claims to be the largest seller of Fernet in South Carolina. Shots, anyone?

Bogard
Charleston, SC 29403

9. A.C.'s Bar & Grill

Charleston, SC

A.C.'s slogan is "up all night," and they mean it — well, until the mandated 2 a.m. closing, but it does have a kitchen that stays open long past others on King. Many beers are less than $3, and the Champagne menu consists of Miller High Life. The staff might look surly, but they're actually a lovable bunch (unless you're acting like a jerk).

10. Burns Alley

27 Burns Ln, Charleston, SC 29401
Burn's Alley

"If you can find us, you'll never forget us" is the slogan for Burns Alley, and it's correct. Nestled off of King Street, this dive isn't the easiest to locate, but listen for live music, bustling crowds, and the pouring of cold beer, and it should lead down the side street (next to Five Guys) to Burns.

27 Burns Ln
Charleston, SC 29401

11. The Griffon Pub

18 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401

The Griffon is a welcome respite from the tourist traffic on East Bay Street. The little dive bar near Waterfront Park started in 1996, which was also when the practice of stapling dollar bills to the wall began. Order the fish and chips to soak up all the local beers.

18 Vendue Range
Charleston, SC 29401

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