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14 Dive Bars of Varying Grunge to Visit in Charleston

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The Holy City isn't exactly known for its seedy clubs and gritty bars. But there are a few places to get reasonably-priced brews that haven't gone all Prohibition-era chic with the decor. If you're over the whole craft cocktail movement or just want a no-frills break from $10 libations, take a look at one of these dives. In honor of Cocktail Week, cast aside those specialty-made bitters and hand carved ices and raise a sturdy glass to Charleston's slightly less polished (though no less adored) places to tipple the day away.

Don't throw cans of PBR at your laptop if your favorite was overlooked. Just tell us which bars you think should be on the list in the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. A.C.'s Bar & Grill

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A.C.'s slogan is "up all night," and they mean it — well, up until the "man" tells them they have to close at 2 a.m., but they do have a kitchen that stays open long past others on King. The beer is cheap 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).

2. 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 almost if not over a decade and they always remember a friendly face. They've got a great selection of draft beers, amazing burgers, and a stick-to-your-ribs brunch.

3. Cutty's

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Bogard
Charleston, SC 29403
Bagard Street bar Cutty's is right across from D'allesandro's and seems right at home on that corner. It's dingy, windowless, and covered in cat memorabilia (we're told the owner is a big fan of felines). On a recent visit, the bartender told us they were the largest seller of Fernet in South Carolina. Cheers.

4. Faculty Lounge

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391 Huger Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Recently reopened, Faculty Lounge got a facelift, but still retains some of it's dive bar elements. Judging from the outside, it's still a bit intimidating, but inside is a comfortable atmosphere and sophisticated drink menu (when's the last time you saw the classic Blood and Sand libation at a dive?).

5. 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. It's relaxed and as easy-going as a place can be.

6. Local 616

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616 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 414-7850
Local 616 is probably the cleanest dive bar around — we weren't even sure if it could classify as a dive. Most of the patrons are tipplers who grew out of their downtown phase and followed owner Dwayne Mitchell from Upper Deck to Local 616. There are divey elements, like worn-in booths and cheap beer, but they also have a creative cocktail list and great local brews on tap.

7. Palace Hotel

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35 Hanover St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 501-7994
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The Palace Hotel is the only hipster hangout on the Eastside. There's still a "For Rent" sign on the building, but inside you'll find trippy decorations, happy hour specials, and free boiled peanuts.

8. 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 their location away from Upper King kiddies and owner Chris "Boston" DiMattia's no nonsense attitude. Rec Room is the second largest seller of PBR in the country. Go for the cheap beer and stay for the tater tot nachos.

9. Richard's Bar & Grill

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2237 N Highway 17
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466
(843) 881-4861
Richard's can be a little scary. It's all the way out past most of Mount Pleasant and there's always a few motorcycles out front. One has to wonder who would travel that far for a beer and a smoke. The word "sketchy" is used several times reading through their Yelp reviews, but once inside, you'll find Richard's is just a blue collar bar with down to earth bartenders. The bathrooms are still scary though.

10. Tattooed Moose

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1137 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 277-2990
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You don't go to Tattooed Moose for the drink specials, you go for Mike's Famous Duck Club with duck fat fries. The sandwich is a work of art fashioned from Hawaiian bread, duck confit, bacon, and garlic aioli. Order a PBR tall boy to wash it all down.

11. The Griffon Pub

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18 Vendue Range
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-1700
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To say The Griffon is a tad grungy might be an understatement, but that doesn't mean the Lowcountry doesn't love it. The little dive bar near Waterfront Park started in 1996, which was also when the practice of stapling dollar bills to the wall began.

12. 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 their declarations of being a dive before day one, but they did a good job of making the place feel worn in and comfortable. The Royal American is now the place to go for giant cups of bourbon punch and exciting music acts.

13. Tin Roof

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1117 Magnolia Rd
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 571-0775
Tin Roof is a magical kingdom of hipsters, 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. They make a pretty mean hot dog as well.

14. Upper Deck Tavern

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353 King St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 958-0002
Upper Deck Tavern (UDT) is the type of place that's intimidating at first — there's no sign, you have to travel down a dark alley, and the stairwell to the bar can leave you second guessing your every step. It's a shot and beer bar with PBR in every variation. If you're looking for more entertainment than booze, UDT offers board games, bingo, and karaoke on Sunday nights.

1. A.C.'s Bar & Grill

Charleston, SC
A.C.'s slogan is "up all night," and they mean it — well, up until the "man" tells them they have to close at 2 a.m., but they do have a kitchen that stays open long past others on King. The beer is cheap 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).

2. 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 almost if not over a decade and they always remember a friendly face. They've got a great selection of draft beers, amazing burgers, and a stick-to-your-ribs brunch.
714 Rutledge Ave
Charleston, SC 29403

3. Cutty's

Bogard, Charleston, SC 29403
Bagard Street bar Cutty's is right across from D'allesandro's and seems right at home on that corner. It's dingy, windowless, and covered in cat memorabilia (we're told the owner is a big fan of felines). On a recent visit, the bartender told us they were the largest seller of Fernet in South Carolina. Cheers.
Bogard
Charleston, SC 29403

4. Faculty Lounge

391 Huger Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Recently reopened, Faculty Lounge got a facelift, but still retains some of it's dive bar elements. Judging from the outside, it's still a bit intimidating, but inside is a comfortable atmosphere and sophisticated drink menu (when's the last time you saw the classic Blood and Sand libation at a dive?).
391 Huger Street
Charleston, SC 29403

5. 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. It's relaxed and as easy-going as a place can be.
817 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

6. Local 616

616 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403
Local 616 is probably the cleanest dive bar around — we weren't even sure if it could classify as a dive. Most of the patrons are tipplers who grew out of their downtown phase and followed owner Dwayne Mitchell from Upper Deck to Local 616. There are divey elements, like worn-in booths and cheap beer, but they also have a creative cocktail list and great local brews on tap.
616 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29403

7. Palace Hotel

35 Hanover St, Charleston, SC 29403
The Palace Hotel is the only hipster hangout on the Eastside. There's still a "For Rent" sign on the building, but inside you'll find trippy decorations, happy hour specials, and free boiled peanuts.
35 Hanover St
Charleston, SC 29403

8. Recovery Room

685 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Recovery Room (Rec Room) is the grown-up's dive bar, thanks to their location away from Upper King kiddies and owner Chris "Boston" DiMattia's no nonsense attitude. Rec Room is the second 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

9. Richard's Bar & Grill

2237 N Highway 17, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466
Richard's can be a little scary. It's all the way out past most of Mount Pleasant and there's always a few motorcycles out front. One has to wonder who would travel that far for a beer and a smoke. The word "sketchy" is used several times reading through their Yelp reviews, but once inside, you'll find Richard's is just a blue collar bar with down to earth bartenders. The bathrooms are still scary though.
2237 N Highway 17
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

10. Tattooed Moose

1137 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
You don't go to Tattooed Moose for the drink specials, you go for Mike's Famous Duck Club with duck fat fries. The sandwich is a work of art fashioned from Hawaiian bread, duck confit, bacon, and garlic aioli. Order a PBR tall boy to wash it all down.
1137 Morrison Dr
Charleston, SC 29403

11. The Griffon Pub

18 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401
To say The Griffon is a tad grungy might be an understatement, but that doesn't mean the Lowcountry doesn't love it. The little dive bar near Waterfront Park started in 1996, which was also when the practice of stapling dollar bills to the wall began.
18 Vendue Range
Charleston, SC 29401

12. 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 their declarations of being a dive before day one, but they did a good job of making the place 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

13. Tin Roof

1117 Magnolia Rd, Charleston, SC 29407
Tin Roof is a magical kingdom of hipsters, 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. They make a pretty mean hot dog as well.
1117 Magnolia Rd
Charleston, SC 29407

14. Upper Deck Tavern

353 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
Upper Deck Tavern (UDT) is the type of place that's intimidating at first — there's no sign, you have to travel down a dark alley, and the stairwell to the bar can leave you second guessing your every step. It's a shot and beer bar with PBR in every variation. If you're looking for more entertainment than booze, UDT offers board games, bingo, and karaoke on Sunday nights.
353 King St
Charleston, SC 29401

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