Good Grub 

You'll find some of the best food at Charleston's bars, dives, and neighborhood joints

A.C.'s Bar and Grill
Pubs/Taverns
Entrées $5-$10
Downtown. 467 King St. 577-6742; Mt. Pleasant. 1035 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
849-2267
Lunch (Mt. P: Mon.-Fri.), Dinner, Sunday Brunch, and Late Night

A.C's is more than just a funky bar on upper King Street. It has all the requisite components of such — the ratty pool tables, the cigarette smoke (at least until summer), and the beer-soaked upholstery — but it also serves up some of the tastiest bar grub in town. We are especially fond of the cheesesteaks, which sport authentic Amorosa's rolls and a bevy of options, including a spicy version that will knock your socks off. Their downtown Sunday brunch has become a popular hangover cure for the masses, with such incredibly hearty combos as chicken and waffles and hashbrown casserole.

Art's Bar and Grill
More Than a Sandwich
Entrées $5-$10
Mt. Pleasant. 413 Coleman Blvd. 849-3040
Lunch and Dinner

Art's is not a fancy joint, but that's just the point. They serve lunch and dinner specials seven days a week in an atmosphere that mixes local musical talent and classic arcade games in the same quirky, well-worn space. Great fried fish baskets and big burgers can satisfy the largest of appetites. The people are cool, the beer is cold, and the location is convenient — all good reasons why this Coleman Boulevard establishment has been voted Best Bar in Mt. Pleasant for years by City Paper readers.

Blind Tiger
Pubs/Taverns
Entrées $10-$15
Downtown. 36-38 Broad St. 577-0088
Lunch and Dinner (kitchen closed on Sun.)

The kitchen at this old speakeasy has been remodeled and rented out to Chef Mitch Wyman whose cuisine is as unpretentious as the place itself. He proffers classic French bistro fare, a small but excellent menu that obviously borrows heavily from his experience at 39 Rue de Jean. The offerings here make for great bar grub on a weeknight jaunt — spicy cilantro corn fritters, shrimp salad, burgers, mussels, and a nice slab of beef dubbed the "Butcher Steak." It's great food at an excellent price.

George's Sports Bar and Grill
Greek/Mediterranean
Entrées $5-$10
West Ashley. 1300 Savannah Hwy. 763-0605
Lunch and Dinner

Georgie the Greek serves up a fantastic array of Greek specials, American bar grub, and a never-ending stream of live sporting events on so many TVs that his power bill must dwarf the food cost. It's not fancy food, it's a low-down, gut-busting, pig-out joint. The "Nachos Humongo" come topped with chili, cheese, jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and salsa; the chili cheese fries will take you back to your last visit to the state fair; the buffalo wings are certified snot-drippers. Big-screen TVs make this the place to kick back for college football and NASCAR races. And if you're a nerd who doesn't like sports, the television trivia network at every table will give you something to do while you wait for your friends.

The Kickin' Chicken
American/Eclectic — Casual
Entrées $5-$10
Downtown. 337 King St. 805-5020; Mt. Pleasant. 1119 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. 881-8734; James Island. 1175 Folly Road. 225-6996; Summerville. 800 N. Main St. 875-6998
Lunch and Dinner

What started as a ghetto lunch delivery outfit has morphed over the years into a veritable sandwich empire in the Holy City — because these guys make one hell of a sandwich. The signature Kickin' Chicken sandwich is an artery-clogging sub that piles crispy bacon over fried chicken tenders and tops the whole thing with layers of melted cheese. Eating a whole one with a couple beers will send you home for a nap. At night, the Chicken turns into a rocking bar scene with live music and happy customers eating wings and hanging out.

Madra Rua
Pubs/Taverns
Entrées $5-$10
North Charleston. 1034 E. Montague Ave. 554-2522
Lunch and Dinner

Hands down, this is the best Irish pub in town. Hidden up in the Park Circle area of North Chuck, Madra Rua got ahead of the Noisette curve and has led the way ever since. Comprehensive soccer coverage, some very tasty fish and chips, and the only shepherd's pie in town worth eating make this the ideal location to suck down a pint or two while watching all the exciting World Cup action. Of course, the World Cup will not be back for another three years, but we're sure there'll be plenty of other games in the meantime.

Manny's
Greek/Mediterranean
Entrées $5-$10
West Ashley. 1680 Old Towne Road. 763-3908
Lunch, Dinner, and Late Night

Everybody loves Manny's. They have great Greek-American stick-to-your-ribs type fare mixed with American and Italian-American standards that, in all their greasy glory, express what a true neighborhood joint should be all about. You don't go there to be impressed with the wine list or to watch beautiful people. You show up expecting cold beer, good times, and some excellent, satisfying grub, and that's exactly what you get.

Moe's Crosstown Tavern
Pubs/Taverns
Entrées $5-$10
Downtown. 714 Rutledge Ave. 722-EATS (3287)
Lunch, Dinner, and Sunday Brunch

Moe's serves such good bar food that we shouldn't even call it bar food. Burgers, wings, and appetizers reach new levels at this bona fide neighborhood location. You don't have to have your own key to get in the door anymore, and that's a good thing, because on a busy night the door will barely budge for all the people gathered there. The goat cheese and poblano burger and hand-cut French fries are to die for and the wings (served "Moe Hotter") will make you cry.

Parson Jack's Café
American/Eclectic — Casual
Entrées $5-$10
West Ashley. 3417 Shelby Ray Ct. 769-7775
Lunch, Dinner, and Sunday Brunch

A funky little joint out off the Glenn McConnell Parkway, Parson Jack's comes in somewhere between a country bar and grill and a suburban Hooter's location. Despite its relative youth, the place feels like an old favorite with a whimsical theme (including church pews for seats) and a regular happy hour bar crowd that seems to know everyone who walks in the door. You could go for all of that, or you could venture out there for one of the best burgers in town and bar food that will make you an instant regular.

Poe's Tavern
American/Eclectic — Casual
Entrées $5-$10
Sullivan's Island. 2210 Middle St. 883-0083
Lunch and Dinner

We tried to count the number of references to Edgar Allan Poe at this eponymous beach bar on Sullivan's and gave up after two beers. No matter the time of day, this is the perfect place to weather that freak thunderstorm that ruins your beach excursion. You can sit inside, out on the patio, or on the porch — either way the beer is cold and the respectable pub food can quell a grumbling belly. Chips with guacamole and a killer soft-shell crab sandwich top the list of good eats at this island institution.

Taco Boy
Mexican/Southwestern
Entrées $10-$15
Folly Beach. 15 Center St. 588-9761
Lunch and Dinner

The latest addition to the Folly Beach beer-swilling scene, this bar-cum-Mexican taco stand offers a great selection of semi-authentic Mexican-American grub and perhaps the coolest bar scene on the beach. After a long day of sand and sun, one can load up on fresh corn tortillas with a variety of fillings — and of course, you'll need plenty of bitingly sharp margaritas to wash all that flavor down.

Wild Wing
American/Eclectic — Casual
Entrées $5-$10
Downtown. 6 N. Market St. 722-9464; Mt. Pleasant. 664 Coleman Blvd. 971-WING (9464); North Charleston. 7618 Rivers Ave. 818-WING (9464)
Lunch, Dinner, and Late Night

The Wild Wing restaurant chain — an empire that grew out of Hilton Head and remains based in Charleston — hit on a surefire winner of a concept. Serve the best chicken wings ever and douse them with enough different sauces and flavors to captivate a crowd. We like to order our beer by the bucket and then get a sampler platter of wings so we can taste some of the 33 different flavors. Our top five? Ragin Cajun, Ranchilada, Pollo Loco, Red Dragon Wing, and the Red, Hot, and Bleu. They've got other stuff on the menu here, and it's good, too, but the wings are why people return again and again.


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