11 Center Street
Folly Beach, 11 Center St.
Folly Beach cashes in on the tapas trend with this classy gourmet grocery-meets-chi chi hangout.
Follys newest upscale kickback boasts an extensive wine selection that hovers around 1,300 bottles for purchase, and that aint all. While your waiter is corking your new bottle ($7), you might nibble on the most delicious candied walnuts known to mankind and consider any number of Mediterranean-inspired tapas on the menu (paired to your wine, if you wish). If its warm outside, the party will be happening out on the stylish patio.
PLUSES: The patio fireplace, the overstuffed couches upstairs, the cheese platter, and the quirky beer selection (no Bud Light or Miller Lite, for discerning palates). (Shawnté Salabert)
213 Top of the Bay
Downtown, 213-C East Bay St.
Business in the front and party in the back.
The smallest dance club downtown has a split personality the narrow front bar serves as a pub-like congregating point for friends and après-work barflies, while the raised dance floor in back attracts the booty-shaking types. The most popular music spun by the house DJs is 80s pop and rock, and the slightly older crowd appreciates the trip back to the Tony Danza period of their lives.
PLUSES: $1 draft Yuengling 24/7, cushy seats near the dance floor, Tuesday & Wednesday F&B night. (Shawnté Salabert)
Downtown, 467 King St.
Late night,comforting pub food and an interesting crowd that once stayed up all night.
Oh, the glory days of A.C.s, when it was the only place open after everywhere else had long since closed down. Even with the 2 a.m. ordinance, 15-year stalwarts Jim and Lenny treat you right at A.C.s, with a rotating $2 beer of the month and food served until 1:30 a.m. A.C.s has cheap beer all the time and a crowd full of Charlestons young artists and musicians hanging out and enjoying it. Theyve also got a sense of humor be sure to check out the champagne list.
PLUSES: Late-night tasty food, $2 High Life and Miller Lite on tap, plus $2 PBR, High Life, and Iron City bottles. (Sara Miller)
A.C.s Mt. P
Mt. Pleasant, 1035 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
A roomy, no-nonsense hole-in-the-wall tavern.
Just under the white neon signs in the middle of Anna Knapp Plaza, A.C.s east of the Cooper and its black T-shirted staff rumble along at a casual pace. Open from lunch (except Sunday) and dinner until late-night with a simple menu of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and cheesesteaks. The big checkerboard tiles on the floor, black-painted steel rafters, and aggressive sounds blaring out of the stereo speakers give the place a certain rock n roller vibe.
PLUSES: Grub available til 1:30 a.m., two nice pool tables right in the middle of the room, two TVs, two Golden Tees, 8-10 beers on tap, monthly beer of the month specials, cool vintage stained-glass lamps hanging over the U-shaped bar. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
Isle of Palms, 31 J C Long Blvd.
Shady little beach bar for the laid-back IOP crowd.
The little beach bar that could is a fitting description for this sandy spot, thought to be one of the oldest structures on the Isle of Palms. Serving primo margaritas and tasty burritos since 1996, the venue has evolved over the years and now features a screened-in porch and side deck for sunning. With a devoted following of locals, outstanding drinks and specials, live music by Two Three Ways, and a 42-inch plasma screen that shows all the best in sporting action, Acme Cantina is an oasis of fun. Heres a tip: check http://www.acmecantina.com/ for printable coupons!
PLUSES: $2 domestics, outdoor seating, and live music, 20¢ wings during happy hour. (Ida Becker)
A Dough Re Mi
Mt. Pleasant, 1220 Ben Sawyer Blvd.
The old-school pizza parlor vibe with a decidedly rock n roll approach.
Located in the middle of the Sea Island Shopping Center, this deceptive pizza joint with a family-friendly scene actually opens up into a sizeable beer hall with a long L-shaped bar and plenty of tall table seating. Live bands play from a standing stage in the back corner. Everything is painted green and white, with old guitars and neon signs hanging on the walls, and statuettes of Bing, Dean, and Satchmo on the shelves behind the bar.
PLUSES: Cheap bottles of Newcastle ($2.50) and other happy hour specials from 4-7 p.m., late-night munchies, live local and regional music (rock, blues, and roots music) six nights a week, 10 TVs hanging from every corner, Elvira pinball, Frogger and CarnEvil video games, two pool tables in a private room beside the stage, plenty of parking. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
Arts Bar & Grill
Mt. Pleasant, 413 Coleman Blvd.
The place to go to quench a major East Cooper thirst and let it all hang out.
Formerly the Acme Bar, Arts has been an Old Mt. Pleasant favorite for years, with a lively afternoon crowd, live music and karaoke events every night, and an amusingly straight-shootin bar staff. Things get smoky and crowded at the L-shaped bar, but theres room at the tables and booths lining the front room, overlooking Coleman Blvd.
PLUSES: A raging happy hour from 4-7 p.m. with discounted beers and liquors, roomy street-front deck with umbrellas and tables, live local music four nights a week, DJ Daves weekly wild n crazy karaoke, pinball, Golden Tee, and a cool jukebox. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
Back Nine Pub
West Ashley, 2457 Ashley River Road
The Pierpont Plaza pub with free pool all day on Sunday and during happy hour.
A good place to relax with a malt beverage and slide into conversation, as long as the conversation is about the game. With six TV sets mounted on the wall and two more on the way, youll have a good view of the action in this clean, no-nonsense neighborhood pub. Dan and Summer are both from the north but already easing into the slow, Southern style.
PLUSES: Sixteen flavors of wings and $1.50 pints of Bud and Bud Light during happy hour, plus the mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders fresh from the hot air cooker so you can eat twice as much with half the guilt. (Jason A. Zwiker)
Isle of Palms, 1130 Ocean Blvd.
Beach-front booze, bands, and burgers
Take a break from summers scorching sun with a cool pitcher of one of Banana Cabanas signature drinks and a Cheeseburger in Paradise or Junkyard Dog. Live acoustic music on the patio and fruity frozen confections draw locals and transients alike to this mini-oasis. A huge saltwater fish tank provides a colorful backdrop for the bar.
PLUSES: $15 pitchers of liquor drinks, tons of specialty daiquiris, coladas, and margaritas, huge patio with live acoustic music. (Kristen George)
Downtown, 145 Calhoun St.
A slight South Beach vibe and a large dance floor mean trendy clothes and lots of martinis.
This part-time performance space becomes a top party destination on the weekends when VIP booths can be rented, champagne can be bought, and cigar smoking is not unusual. Famous for their party collaborations with Maxim and MTV (Halloween is always insane here), Bar 145 entices the young and (somewhat) stylish to strut their stuff in its expansive space. On scattered evenings, a slightly older and more coupled crowd gets into the bars frequent live theatre and music performances before the miniskirt-sporting 20-somethings take over later.
PLUSES: Giant martini menu (with $5 Martini of the Night), occasional plays and performances (i.e. 60s Motown dinner theatre), Miami-esque seating areas, food from The Terrace. (Shawnté Salabert)
Sullivans Island, 2209 Middle St.
Best power-drinking tavern on the island since 1977.
Nestled in the oldest business section of the island, Berts serves as a no-frills, beachfront watering hole for many year-round regulars and seasonal visitors. Named after Bert Worthman, who first opened it in the 1930s as a pharmacy, this bar and grill stands out as a working-class joint. With live music throughout the week and a low-key grill menu, Berts is the antidote to the more yuppified bars on the same block.
PLUSES: No snobbery from the staff, super cheap happy hour from 4-7 p.m., four beers on tap, live music weekly, Golden Tee, the Berts Special (a can of cheap beer and a shot of cheap mint schnapps for $5). (T. Ballard Lesemann)
Big Deck Daddys
N. Charleston, 6893 Rivers Ave.
Bikes. Lots of bikes.
Big Deck Daddys is larger than it looks from its deceptive front, especially with the huge fenced-in backyard, where a wide variety of outdoor events takes place. Live music four nights a week, supplemented with rockin tunes on the house system, gives the bar a true roadhouse feel. The kitchen turns out a substantial basic and simple-minded menu thatll keep you going for that ride home on the Hawg.
PLUSES: Happy hour deals on various beers and drinks from 4-7 p.m.; girl-on-girl kissing contests and the always exciting chocolate pudding female wrestling competitions (during Heritage Bike Rally), plus occasional wet T-shirt contests. (Scott Goodwin)
Big Game Billfish
Bar & Grill
Mt. Pleasant, 100 Church St.
A new, family-friendly addition to the busy Shem Creek bar scene.
This bright and spacious seafood restaurant (located in the old Trawler building at the foot of the Shem Creek bridge) features a roomy bar area with a cushy lounge and pool room. A curious, antique Rolling Rock bicycle hangs over a 20-seat, rectangular bar while a Tom Rech deep sea fishing Hall of Fame picture gallery and four John Carroll Doyle prints are prominently displayed on the walls.
PLUSES: Less rowdy than other spots on the creek, happy hour from 4-7 p.m. features a buck off of everything, killer appetizers, a newly-refurbished parking lot by the old Trawler lighthouse, 18 bottled beers available, live local music several nights a week, enclosed deck overlooking the creek, additional outside deck seating, classic martinis, specialty cocktails and frozen drinks, two pool tables, foosball, video games, Golden Tee, air hockey. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
Downtown, 36-38 Broad St.
An off-the-beaten-path pub thats easier to find than it used to be.
One of the downtown areas few authentic pubs, the Blind Tiger takes the name of one of the many euphemisms for local hideaways that served alcohol during the dark years of Prohibition. Although its recently become a hair more homogenized than it once was (with a fancy new sign out front and annoying televisions flickering in the bar), this Broad Street pub remains a hot spot for its casual atmosphere, plentiful Bass and Guinness on tap, and spacious outdoor patio and bar.
PLUSES: Take in the air among the crumbling, ivy-covered stone walls of the large enclosed courtyard, one of Charlestons most atmospheric. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
Downtown, 171 East Bay St.
A stylish alternative to the usual crush.
Upscale restaurant bars often serve double duty as holding pens for those patrons on the waiting list and early- and mid-evening meeting spots for Charlestons more discriminating bar-hoppers. The recently refitted bar at Blossom is one of these, where bartenders like Scott see a mostly professional set bellying up to the copper bar, which shares socializing space with a few hightop tables and three low bistro tables.
PLUSES: Thursday night bar specials include half-price glasses of wine and domestic beers, plus a $5 appetizer list (e.g. BBQ pulled pork tacos) from Blossoms estimable kitchen. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
Downtown, 459 East Bay St.
A worthwhile stop on the way to anywhere downtown.
The small bar area at the Boathouse is primarily a waiting station for diners and a raw bar where oyster lovers can indulge themselves in the atmospheric surroundings of the stylish, nautically themed restaurant. Brazilian cherry, teak, and heart pine create a tony environment for the bar, which overlooks one of two main dining areas. The smallish indoor bar boasts only a few tall chairs and a single table for groups. In warmer months, though, the enclosed outdoor patio becomes a destination for the floral-print wearing crowd.
PLUSES: Free parking in the fair-sized lot next to the restaurant, great interior setting, and a large outdoor patio. Half-price sushi on Tuesday nights. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
West Ashley, 1124 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.
Fantasy football grand central, with more TV screens than a Best Buy showroom.
Angus burgers, wraps, wings, and appetizers abound at this sports grill. If youre looking for a TV screen, just glance anywhere around you. We lost count at 40. Try the Lunch Box, a shot of amaretto dropped in beer and O.J., and look for $4 Jäger and $3.50 flavored vodkas daily.
PLUSES: Live Stingrays show each Monday, with players and coaches making their live radio broadcast, Bobbys sports commentary, and regular visits from Jessica, the shot queen. (Jason A. Zwiker)
Downtown, 102 N. Market St.
Where schools always in.
If youre a day over 24, youll feel like an octogenarian at Bodacious Burger once the tourists clear out after dinnertime. Replete with TVs of all sizes (more than 30) and three floors of snug booths, wooden tables, and vintage beer posters, the massive establishment next door to Peninsula Grill (oh, the irony) seems to exist almost exclusively to serve the college set. This it does exceedingly well, with a plethora of daily booze specials well crafted to appeal to the thrifty overindulger.
PLUSES: Great happy hour deals (4-7 p.m. weekdays) include $1 domestic draft, $2 import draft, and $2 house liquors. Free wings on Mondays (5 p.m.-12 a.m) and free hot dogs on Sundays (8-10 p.m.) (Patrick Sharbaugh)
The Break Room
Mt. Pleasant, 2700 N. Hwy. 17
An enterprising suburban sports bar and lounge.
The Break Rooms decor employs fancy metallurgy, light fixtures, a sparkly L-shaped bar counter, wraparound booths, and high ceilings. The mood is breezy, preppy, and laid back. Situated at the northeastern tip of Mt. Pleasant in the Shoppes at the Brickyard, it serves as watering hole and haven for the upwardly mobile neighbors nearby. Young, blonde bartenders serve from a nice drink list. An impressive menu featuring salads, wings, pastas, and seafood entrées is available for lunch and dinner.
PLUSES: Live music in the back corner three nights a week, 10 beers on draft, Sunday brunch, Golden Tee, sidewalk seating, plenty of parking. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
Downtown, 213-B East Bay St.
Come for the dart lanes, stay for the F&B-friendly atmosphere.
This warmly lit pub offers plenty of space and roomy booths for knocking back a few pints. Their happy hour (5-8 p.m.) offers $2 Bud Select and Yuengling drafts, plus $3 well drinks. The real draw of The Brick is the dart lanes. Simply approach the bartender for the house darts and take aim!
PLUSES: Four dart lanes, one pool table, an old bingo pinball machine, Golden Tee, and delicious brews on tap. (Sara Miller)
Brinsons Beef & Brew
James Island, 951 Folly Road
The place for a lot of beef, a lot of sports, and a lot of nighttime entertainment.
Brinsons, one of the few restaurants in town with a distinctly separate bar section (the Bull Pen), is a favorite happy hour spot for James Islanders. With televisions lining the wall, 15 beers on draft, and some form of entertainment nearly every night of the week (karaoke, trivia, and live music), business is brisk and the parking lot fills up just as quickly as the bar stools. For a less smoky atmosphere, patrons look to the back deck and patio for a bit of sun or some acoustic tunes.
PLUSES: Covered deck, fried turkey, panoramic television view, $1 off everything on the menu during happy hour (M-F, 4-7 p.m.), live music a few nights a week. (Shawnté Salabert)
James Island, 845 Folly Road
The place where everybody knows your name and your favorite wing flavor, too
The owners of this low-key hangout are from Buffalo, New York, so theyve seen to it that the place is a virtual shrine to the Buffalo Bills and the menu is stuffed full of their hometown classics like the curious Beef on Weck. The building is small, but there are enough nooks and crannies (pool table room, screened-in patio) to provide a little anonymity if the bartenders are getting to know you a little too well.
PLUSES: Well-rounded Canadian beer selection, $3 happy hour liquors, $1.50 happy hour (4-7 p.m.) domestic drafts. (Shawnté Salabert)
Downtown, 10 Exchange St.
A perfect place to meet an acquaintance, but not 10 of them.
Slightly off the much-worn path along East Bay Street, Carolinas is a Charleston institution. The small, three-sided black marble bar sits in the middle of the main dining room, where its surrounded by diners comprised of tourists as well as a number of regulars. Attractive waiters and bartenders attired in all black, a laid-back air, and a tasteful but unintimidating interior give Carolinas an atmosphere of relaxed intimacy.
PLUSES: Happy hour deals include $2 off all liquor and wine, $1 off all beer. Sunday and Monday feature 1/2 price wine (under $75) 5-7 p.m. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
CentRE Stage @
The Plex/Rodeo Café
N. Charleston, 2390 W. Aviation Ave. 225-7539
Charlestons largest music venue serves up live music, boxing, and a mechanical bull.
The Plex used to be a movie theatre, which becomes apparent upon stepping into the huge space that makes up Centre Stage, the performance area. There are literally three sections (all used to be individual theatres) the center one for the performers (or boxers on boxing nights), flanked by bars on the left and right sides. There is more than enough room to move around the Plex, but the drinks can get a bit pricey (after all, cheap drinks are not the main draw here). For the more adventurous, check out the mechanical bull in the Rodeo Room, occasionally ridden by girls in bikinis.
PLUSES: An excellent sound system, servers who come to you on the floor, ample space, and a great AC system to keep the crowds cool. (Sara Miller)
Downtown, 462 King St.
The new kid on the scene who wants to reign supreme.
Intended to accommodate the spillover from sister establishment and runaway success Basil, this spot has become a fast favorite among stalwart scenesters. While billed as a lounge, Chais is table-heavy and has a restaurant feel, but the extensive drink menu, lively entertainment, and propensity to see familiar faces keep patrons here for long stretches of time.
PLUSES: With tapas-style plates of sashimi and mini-hamburgers serving late till 1 a.m., this spot elevates late-night eating to a whole new level. (Ida Becker)
Folly Beach, 1 Center St.
A popular outdoor bar and slushy drink menu mean prime bikini-watching in the warmer months.
The inside of this Holiday Inn bar is nothing to hoot about; its the outside that draws the attention. The drinks are on the expensive side, but regular patrons (and surprisingly, there are quite a few) insist that it doesnt matter because Chancys features an atmospheric patio bar that draws in sunbathers the length of the beach. Some come for the beach food, others for the frozen daquiris, and still others because they want to splash around in the adjoining hotel pool. Those who choose to stay inside and stare at the seven TVs are either business travelers, locals (look for Gator), or the unlucky Joes that got there too late to find a spot on the patio.
PLUSES: Patio, frozen drinks, patio, grill food, patio. (Shawnté Salabert)
Downtown, 224 King St.
The place to go when money is no object and self-indulgence is the mission.
Paneled walls, herringbone floors, padded carver chairs, and framed photos of historic Charleston. Fresh floral bouquets, tuxedoed servers and bartenders, live jazz, and the smell of money. Charleston Grill, the four-star restaurant of Charleston Place Hotel, has a wine list of more than 1,000 labels, and bar patrons peruse an appetizer menu that includes Osetra and Beluga caviar (at $75/oz. and $150/oz., respectively). Bar nibbles: calamata olives and cashew nuts. Your bevnap is a meticulously folded white napkin. Got it?
PLUSES: You surely wont have to worry about getting elbowed in the eye by a stumbling, drooling member of the frat pack here. Theres also a good chance of striking up a conversation with a member of the Saudi royal family. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
Charlies Little Bar
Downtown, 141 East Bay St.
A hidden lounge thats a favorite for those who can find it.
This tiny upstairs bar used to be the last stop on the drunk train for a regular posse of revelers, but due to more than a few legal technicalities, they now close shop at 1 a.m. Still, Charlies is the same small, candlelit hangout it was before. Polo shirts and hipsters still abound, and youll still get elbowed and bumped on the way to the bathroom ... it all happens just a wee bit earlier in the evening these days.
PLUSES: Back room, cozy quarters, mysterious atmosphere. (Shawnté Salabert)
Bar and Grill
West Ashley, 2366 Ashley River Road
Just your average great neighborhood dive.
Its a neighborhood dive, but its a good one. Friendly bartenders and clientele alike will make you forget about the holes in the bathroom sheet rock, and the Race Day Buffet will make any NASCAR fan happy free food and special drink prices all day. Bartender extraordinaire Teri will have you feeling like a regular in three minutes flat.
PLUSES: Pool tables, jukebox with decent selections, outdoor seating, and horseshoes outside in the courtyard. Save 50¢ on everything during happy hour. (Scott Goodwin)
Downtown, 16 N. Market St.
An upscale bar with a boutique atmosphere.
Situated in the former Union Hall location, Cintra has successfully blended a busy bar with a classy dining room, all in one of the tiniest locations on the Market. While the romantic dinner dates are noshing on contemporary Mediterranean fare in the back, a small group of sharp dressers are holding forth at the sleek bar in front. This place is pricey, but you feel so special when youre there (not a baseball cap in sight! Tablecloths!), its worth the dent in your wallet.
PLUSES: Giant martini list ($6-$12), quiet enough to hear yourself talk without being self-conscious, olive assortments on the bar tables. (Ida Becker)
Downtown, 149 Wentworth St.
Quiet and tucked away in a carriage house behind the Wentworth Mansion.
This AAA Four Diamond establishment is truly a diamond in the rough. From its smoke-free environment (ahh
), to a wine list with close to 280 bottles, this subdued spot has a loyal following. Those looking to share a meaningful bottle of wine away from the fray pop up time after time.
PLUSES: No smoking, excellent wine list, and a high-end clientele to rub shoulders with. (Ida Becker)
West Ashley, 1114 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.
One laid-back Southwestern cantina.
An open fireplace keeps things hot in the cantina. $3 baskets of wings, $2 baskets of tacos, and plenty of frozen margaritas: strawberry, raspberry, and peach. Rob will make you laugh and Christy is just so darn sweet and cute. Cant get enough live music on the patio? More is on the way come summer.
PLUSES: $2 Margarita Madness from 4-5 p.m. daily, free chips and salsa, $7.50 buckets of Coronitas, and Edisto Lane playing live on Wednesday nights. (Jason A. Zwiker)
Downtown, 5 Faber St.
The place to hook up if you were born after 1980.
This sprawling location has undergone several minor upgrades since it opened a few years back and now plays host to two fish tanks, four bars, a bi-level dance floor, and a small lounge area in the back. The girls are overdressed (unless theyre the bikini-clad bartenders at the hot tub bar) and the guys are underdressed (T-shirts are the norm), but somehow they all seem to be bumping and grinding along to Lil Kim at the end of the night. Now that the Purple Tree Lounge has opened as a classier sister locale, City Bar can revel in its status as the booty call capital of Charleston.
PLUSES: Free admission for women (21+) on Thursday and Friday, Thursday College Night with $5 buckets of Bud Light and $1 bottles of the same, the giant structural pole near the dance floor that becomes a skank magnet later in the evening. (Shawnté Salabert)
Downtown, 28 Ann St.
The slogan on their website is come play with us.
The mornings after a visit to this rollicking dance hub, were never quite sure if our irregularly beating hearts should be attributed to the thumping club anthems, the rapid succession of Red Bull Vodkas, or the titillating eye candy that fills this place late night. Open only Thursday Sunday, you better get it while you can. Drag shows take place at midnight on Friday and Sunday, while two different DJs crank out mixes that clearly meet with the approval of buff boys of all ages they pack em in weekend after weekend.
PLUSES: Yummy Joe Condon is a mainstay behind the bar, and counting the number of dreamy-eyed patrons hoping hell take their order is always a fun pastime. (Ida Becker)
Downtown, 39 John St.
Rich in history and eclectic interior design.
True to its namesake, this bar is dripping with all things nautical: from a tempting list of boat drinks like the Dark and Stormy and the universally-dreaded-by-bartenders mojito, to fish tacos for under $10, a flat screen TV that continually loops mesmerizing surf footage from all points exotic, an interior tin roof, preserved palm trees, and red lit blowfish (that could use a little dusting), Coast is a cozy spot adept at attracting a multi-racial crowd of visitors and locals alike.
PLUSES: With Craig and John working the floor, guests are guaranteed a thoughtful drink suggestion and a dirty joke or two. (Ida Becker)
Isle of Palms, 1120 Ocean Blvd.
Frozen drinks, relaxing reggae, and the soft lull of the Atlantic make for a perfect summer evening.
With the Atlantic splashing below, groovy live music, and some of the yummiest frozen drinks in the Lowcountry, the rooftop at Coconut Joes is one of the very best places to cool down on a muggy summer night. Steep drink prices ($5.95-$7.25) are well worth the view. A simple menu with an island flair is served downstairs, indoors and out.
PLUSES: Bring in a hat or license plate not already hanging on the wall inside and Joell buy you a drink. (Kristen George)
Crazy Ds Food
Goose Creek, 1230 Redbank Road
Where long-time Goose Creekers go to unwind.
Located in the Creek Bank Shopping Center just off the intersection of Rhett Avenue and Redbank Road, this unpretentious little tavern boasts country cooking during the day, jumbo wing specials at night, and an enthusiasm for NASCAR and major league sports. Bar manager Vickie says, Its just a good local bar.
PLUSES: Happy hour (4:30-7:30 p.m.) has Crazy Beer pitchers for a measly $2, $1.75 domestics, $3 well drinks and $4 call drinks; one large-screen plasma TV and 10 small TV sets hang on every wall, three pool tables, two dart boards, video golf and bowling games, video trivia, karaoke on Wednesdays. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
Downtown, 301 King St.
A happily grungy spot perfect for knocking back a few while checking out some excellent local music.
Cumberlands moved last year to a new location in front of Grannys Goodies on King Street. While some may miss the old place, the new one has the same delectable bar food (served til 10), cool, local musician bartenders, and cheap beer. They also have a bonafide stage, perfect for the live music they host pretty much every night. Mondays are bookmarked for Hairaoke, metal karaoke with a live (and talented!) band, but every other night is a crapshoot: punk, jam, reggae ... Cumberlands hosts it all.
PLUSES: Happy hour 30¢ wings, $1 mystery beer until 10 p.m. (and all night Monday), $3.75 pitchers of Duff beer, plus a foosball table (good luck finding another one downtown), live and LOUD music. (Sara Miller)
DeTomas Sports Grill
Summerville, 975 Bacons Bridge Road 875-5099
A determined local sports bar with plenty of room to flip out over the instant replays.
Tucked way back in the Summerville Galleria shopping center (near Bi-Lo), this friendly sports bar and game hall serves cold beer, hard drinks, and loads of sports footage. The long bar is staffed by laid-back locals who know the score, and the huge wall murals depicting Clemson, Carolina, CofC, and Summerville High School Greenwave logos add a nice touch.
PLUSES: Happy hour from 4-7 p.m. with beer specials (six on tap) and basic grub, 13 big TV sets tuned in to sports events, darts, foosball, Golden Tee, cool new jukebox, ping-pong table. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
N. Charleston, 2015 Pittsburgh Ave. 723-6666
The sister topless club to the big nudie joint across the street and county line.
Not known for its fancy neighborhood, Diamonds is owned and operated by some of the same execs who run Thee Southern Belle across Pittsburgh Avenue. A rectangular bar lit by black lights stands in the middle of a crowded front foyer with a roomier dance room opening up to the back. Two stages, five poles. A bit grim, though.
PLUSES: Topless female dancers in all sizes, decent happy hour prices from 4-7 p.m. (for a strip club), friendly dancers, digital jukebox, mixed clientele. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
The Dog and Duck
Summerville, 1580-J Trolley Road
A laid-back beer bar and grill with a family restaurant vibe by day and beer hall vibe at night.
Situated in the middle of the Ridgeway Plaza, the unassuming Dog & Duck serves from a healthy list of imported and domestic beers and standard mixed drinks from lunch through late-night seven days a week. Daytime bartender Meribah says its a family-friendly restaurant with great happy hour appetizer and drink specials from 4-7 p.m.
PLUSES: 10 beers on tap, beer of the month specials, a dollar off well drinks and 50¢ off domestics during happy hour, 8 TVs tuned in to sports and news, an outdoor patio with a mini bar available year round, Monday Night trivia, karaoke on Tuesday nights, food served til midnight and later. (T. Ballard Lesemann)
Downtown, 42 Ann St.
A relaxed vibe where people mind their own business.
Recently expanded to include a pool table in the back, with TVs and a pinball machine on the way (hooray!), Dudleys is the quiet sister of neighboring party mecca Pantheon. Every Wednesday is Karaoke with Trevor and happy hour from 4-8 p.m. yields $1 off all liquor.
PLUSES: With Portia and David Johnson behind the bar, this hole in the wall pours on the sass when it wants to. (Ida Becker)
Sullivans Island, 2213-B Middle St. 883-9646
Sullivans Islands very own Irish-American beach bar.
The windows make this place seem spacious, unless you try to go to the bathroom. The regulars help create a family feel and theyve also helped decorate the pub, bringing in license plates, photos, and sports gear to hang from the ceiling. Dunleavys has a welcoming, genuinely friendly ambience that make it a truly a great place to hang out.
PLUSES: The popcorn machine is a big draw, and quite rightly so. Free popcorn every day from 2:30 p.m. Live acoustic music during the warm months. (Nick Smith)
East Bay Coffee House
Downtown, 159 East Bay St.
Like moths to a flame, loads of people wander in from off the street thanks to the brightly lit atmosphere.
With oversized sofas and live jazz on the weekends, this relatively new establishment offers a change of pace from the neighboring restaurant-associated bars. The martinis run $6 and wine is in the $7 range, but fair warning this spot doesnt have a kitchen and pastries are the only thing available to curb your alcohol-induced appetite (fortunately, were big fans of dessert and martinis!).
PLUSES: No smoking, quiet atmosphere, and live music from the Hungry Monks. (Ida Becker)
The End Zone/
N. Charleston, 5140 Ashley
Sports Bar/Dance Club
A multipurpose entertainment spot for players and playas.
The roomy bar and lounge, located near the intersection of Ashley Phosphate and Dorchester roads, features a full bar on one side for the sports fans and bourbon drinkers and a dance club called Club Reminisce where the jams pump, often courtesy of Z93.
PLUSES: Weekly live remotes from Magic 102 and Z93 deejays, Friday happy hour from 6-8 p.m. includes a free buffet and $2 drinks, Thursday is College Night, Saturday is Ladies Night (girls get in free until 11 p.m.), several hanging TVs, video games, vending machines. (T. Ballard Lesemann)