The 10 Best Bars In Downtown, Charleston, South Carolina

Photo of Richard Tulis
9 February 2017

Charleston is a vibrant city with diverse demographics, and the city’s bar scene more than reflects this particular quality. Whether looking for a subtle, quieter night with a couple of top shelf cocktails, or searching for a rowdy dive bar full of college-age young folks, Charleston has everything and more to offer. Check out these top 10 picks for an overview of this South Carolina gem’s best bars to grab a drink.

Darts | © Dominique Archambault/Flickr

Recovery Room Tavern

Bar, Pub Grub
This dive bar doesn’t try to impress guests with fancy decorations or frilly extras – instead, visit Recovery Room for its pinball machine, dartboard, and bocce ball set. The establishment slings wings and sandwiches in addition to beers, and it’s an excellent place to shoot pool with a crowd of lively friends. With several selections on draft and down to earth staff, you’ll be sure to have your order in hand quickly. The bar has a minuscule patio out front, but don’t expect to spend time huddled outdoors; inside is where the action is.


Nightclub, Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
Hardwood floors, black lights, and dancing define this sleek yet local nightclub. Mynt has become Charleston’s premier hot-spot for after-hours fun; Carolina Nightlife suggests the ‘unique venue’ as the ideal bar for young professionals. Mynt also has a full kitchen, patio, and bottle service to keep you occupied, as well as DJ features and new, energetic music. Make sure to hail the dress code, and don’t get too casual before you walk inside – Mynt disallows hats, jerseys, and the like.

Roof Top at the Vendue Inn

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Vendue's Rooftop View
Vendue's Rooftop View | © alli/Flickr
This rooftop bar is one of Charleston’s most scenic establishments at which guests can grab a drink and socialize against the sunset backdrop of the South’s most charming beach town. Situated atop the boutique hotel, the Vendue Inn, the rooftop’s panoramic views have been drawing guests consistently for years, and the bar has won the city’s ‘Best Rooftop Bar’ award (given by the Charleston City Paper) for the last eight years straight. Stop by this rooftop bar for live music and unbeatable views to experience the scenery that makes Charleston so great.

Silver Dollar

Bar, Beer, American
Liven things up a bit at Silver Dollar, one of Charleston’s most upbeat, energetic downtown bars. Its location is conducive to college students as it is near campus, and guests are likely to be putting a mere dollar down on the bar top come Mondays and Wednesdays. The college crowds are complemented by a dance-inspiring soundtrack and surging social vibes. Lighten up a bit at Silver Dollar, and don’t be surprised if your drink comes served in a plastic cup.

Closed for Business

Gastropub, Pub Grub, $$$
Closed for Business, Charleston
Closed for Business, Charleston | © Timmons P/Flickr
Don’t let the name fool you; this exquisite gastro-pub is anything but lacking when it comes to business. Closed for Business features a more than extensive craft beer selection. The kindred pub has 42 taps for draft and counting. The bar also slings appetizers and pub fare, including favorites such as buffalo oysters with bleu cheese crumbles, celery to cheese dip with roasted peppers, and chicken Parmesan sandwiches. Closed for Business retains a reputation as one of upper King Street’s most popular hangouts.

Midtown Bar & Grill

If you’re in search of a high-spirited, jovial night out in the thick of downtown Charleston, seek out Midtown Bar & Grill, located in the middle of famed King Street. The hustle and bustle outside of Midtown on a weekend is unrivaled, and once you’ve made it inside, it does not exactly stop – with a stage protruding into the middle of the bar, bands are able to provide live music nightly. The patio is adjacent to the backside of the bar and fitted with an outdoor full service bar itself. Friendly bartenders provide the final enticement to visit Midtown, where good drinks and good times are cornerstone to the atmosphere.

Midtown Bar & Grill, 559 King Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 737 4284

The Belmont

Not to be confused with the Belmond hotel, the Belmont is Charleston’s premier, minimalist cocktail emporium, also located on King Street. Sophisticated and chic, the Belmont is home to a small projector that emits black and white classic films against a large brick wall, adding an elegant feel to the atmosphere. ‘A fine place to drink,’ the Belmont also serves small appetizer sized plates of meats and cheeses (such as wild boar salami and Spanish manchego cheese). If you’re feeling a bit hungrier, the Belmont also has a delicious pepperoni Panini with smoked mozzarella and tomato sauce.

The Belmont, 511 King Street, Charleston, SC, USA

King Street Public House

Bar, Cocktails, Pub Grub
Charleston, King Street
Charleston, King Street | © Henry de Saussure Copeland
In Charleston, it seems King Street has it all. Fittingly enough, King Street Public House seems to have it all, too. The vast array of draught beers and thirty-one high definition televisions are suitable to vouch for this, but in case that was not enough, scan their never-ending wine and cocktail list for further convincing. The casual establishment’s impressive bar is a gem in and of itself, especially for those willing to test out a local IPA or two.

The Cocktail Club

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Charleston Rooftop
Charleston Rooftop | © Charleston's TheDigitel/Flickr
The Cocktail Club is a choice spot for Sunday evenings, with live music and well-educated bartenders. Speakeasy style and a rooftop terrace also help make the Cocktail Club of Charleston a truly upscale lounge and bar. Open from 5 pm to 2 am seven days a week, the Cocktail Club has a three hour long happy hour and conventional pub fare perfect for a pre or post dinner accompaniment. With fireplaces and partially exposed beam work, this dimly lit establishment stays inviting and cozy from open to close.

Tin Roof

Bar, Pub Grub
Charleston IPA
Charleston IPA | © Charleston's TheDigitel/Flickr
A local dive bar, Tin Roof can get raucous. But don’t let that turn you away; touring musical acts frequent this venue, as do comedians from time to time. Movie nights, karaoke, and dance-offs are not to be forgotten here, and the menu has sandwiches, burgers, and hot-dogs jumping out from page to page. Tin Roof has even been known to host arm wrestling competitions!

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