In a nod to the city’s perpetual focus on well-prepared food, it’s difficult to find a Charleston  watering hole that doesn’t offer really good food in addition to a well-stocked bar.
One of Charleston’s favorite neighborhood spots is Moe’s Crosstown Tavern (714 Rutledge Ave., 843/722-3287, daily 11 a.m.–2 a.m.) at Rutledge and Francis in the Wagener Terrace/Hampton Square area. A newer location, Moe’s Downtown Tavern (5 Cumberland St., 843/577-8500, daily 11 a.m.–2 a.m.) offers a similar vibe and menu, but the original, and best, Moe’s experience is at the Crosstown.
Nipping on Moe’s heels for best pub food in town is A.C.’s Bar and Grill (467 King St., 843/577-6742, daily 11 a.m.–2 a.m.). Though this dark, quirky watering hole might seem out of place in the increasingly tony Upper King  area, this only adds to its appeal. A.C.’s at its best is all things to all people: Charleston ’s favorite late-night bar, a great place to get a burger basket, and also one of the best (and certainly most unlikely) Sunday brunches in town, featuring chicken and waffles.
The action gets going late at Social Wine Bar (188 E. Bay St., 843/577-5665, daily 4 p.m.–2 a.m.), a hopping hangout near the French Quarter. While the hot and cold tapas are tasty—I like the special sashimi—the real action here, as you’d expect, is the wine. They offer at least 50 wines by the glass and literally hundreds by the bottle. My favorite thing to do here is partake of the popular “flights,” triple tastes of kindred spirits, as it were. If the pricing on the menu seems confusing, ask your server to help you out.
Johnson’s Pub (12 Cumberland St., 843/958-0662, daily noon–2 a.m.), a quirky but popular downtown spot, offers seven varieties of burger, all incredible, plus great pizza; it’s also well known for its Caesar salad. Oh, yeah, and they keep the drinks coming, too.
The Guinness flows freely at Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub (160 Church St., 843/577-3818, www.tommycondons.com , Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–2 a.m., dinner served until 10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 a.m., dinner served until 11 p.m.)—after the obligatory and traditional slow-pour, that is—as do the patriotic Irish songs performed live most nights. You have three sections to choose from in this large, low building right near City Market : the big outdoor deck, the cozy pub itself, and the back dining room with classic wainscoting.
If it’s a nice day out, a good place to relax and enjoy happy hour outside is Vickery’s Bar and Grill (15 Beaufain St., 843/577-5300, www.vickerysbarandgrill.com , Mon.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–1 a.m., kitchen closes 1 a.m.), actually part of a small regional chain based in Atlanta. Start with the oyster bisque, and maybe try the turkey and Brie sandwich or crab cakes for your entrée.
Because of its commercial nature, Broad Street can get a little sparse when the sun goes down and the office workers disperse back to the ’burbs. But a warm little oasis can be found a few steps off Broad Street in the Blind Tiger (36–38 Broad St., 843/577-0088, daily 11:30–2 a.m., kitchen closes 10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 9 p.m. Fri.–Sun.), which takes its name from the local Prohibition-era nickname for a speakeasy. Wood panels, Guinness and Bass on tap, and some good bar-food items make this a good stop off the beaten path if you find yourself in the area. A patio out back often features live music.
Located not too far over the Ashley River on U.S. 17, Charleston institution Gene’s Haufbrau (17 Savannah Hwy., 843/225-4363, www.geneshaufbrau.com , daily 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m.) is worth making a special trip into West Ashley . Boasting the largest beer selection in Charleston —from the Butte Creek Organic Ale from California to a can of PBR—Gene’s also claims to be the oldest bar in town, established in 1952.
Though Sullivan’s Island  has a lot of high-dollar homes, it still has friendly watering holes like Dunleavy’s Pub (2213-B Middle St., 843/883-9646, Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m.). Inside is a great bar festooned with memorabilia, or you can enjoy a patio table.
The other Sullivan’s watering hole of note is Poe’s Tavern (2210 Middle St., 843/883-0083, daily 11 a.m.–2 a.m., kitchen closes 10 p.m.) across the street, a nod to Edgar Allan Poe and his service on the island as a clerk in the U.S. Army. It’s a lively, mostly-locals scene, set within a fun but suitably dark interior (though you might opt for one of the outdoor tables on the raised patio). Simply put, no trip to Sullivan’s is complete without a stop at one (or possibly both) of these two local landmarks, each within a stone’s throw of the other.
If you’re in Folly Beach , enjoy the great views and the great cocktails at Blu Restaurant and Bar (1 Center St., 843/588-6658, www.blufollybeach.com , $10–20) inside the Holiday Inn Folly Beach Oceanfront. There’s nothing like a Spiked Lemonade on a hot Charleston day at the beach.
Another notable Folly Beach watering hole is the Sand Dollar Social Club (7 Center St., 843/588-9498, Sun.–Fri. noon–1 a.m., Sat. noon–2 a.m.), the kind of cash-only, mostly local, and thoroughly enjoyable dive you often find in little beach towns. You have to pony up for a “membership” to this private club, but it’s only a buck. There’s a catch though: you can’t get in until your 24-hour “waiting period” is over.
If you find yourself up in North Charleston, by all means stop by Madra Rua Irish Pub (1034 E. Montague Ave., 843/554-2522), an authentic watering hole with a better-than-average pub food menu that’s also a great place to watch a soccer game.