Charlie’s Bar

Detroit, Michigan

Charlies Bar - Detroit Dive bar - Exterior

Field Rating


out of 10

Modern touches amid 1933 roots under a classic sign.

The Basics

1503 Springwells St
Detroit, MI 48209


In Short

Cities like Detroit are covered in timeless, corner bars that have served micro-communities for decades and Charlie’s Bar in the southwest corner of the city is a perfect example. Established in 1933 and inhabiting a well-aged brick building, a handful of modern updates have smoothed out the interior appearance of the bar but exposed interior brick thankfully lets the age and history of the structure shine through.

Field Note

Major American cities like Detroit are peppered with neighborhood dive bars that might not generate long digital trails of historic details but no less serve their locals and regulars as only a corner haunt can. Charlie’s Bar in southwest Detroit is one such neighborhood dive bar and though bar details are scarce, there is some suggestion that a bar of some variety has been open on the corner of Springwells and Longworth Streets since 1933.

The sign over the front door of Charlie’s Bar may be the Detroit dive bar’s finest feature, a classic depiction of the name of the bar with “Est. 1933” nestled in the middle of twisted neon. The brick exterior has certainly seen some improvement over the bar’s decades of operations, now a smooth mixture of red bricks with ornate black tile work on either side of the bar’s front door. A residence still exists on the second floor of the building, once said to have been home to past owners of Charlie’s Bar.

The brickwork is thankfully exposed to the Charlie’s Bar interior, keeping some of that 1933 vibe alive.

By dive bar standards, the space is downright cavernous, seating restricted to spots at the bar and a small selection of stools dotting the interior footprint. Gambling machines accompany a digital dart board and jukebox as Charlie’s Bar amenities. The flooring here has been replaced and the overhead lights have been upgraded to modern fans. But the brickwork is thankfully exposed to the Charlie’s Bar interior, keeping some of that 1933 vibe alive in what is an otherwise updated space.

The area behind the bar is perhaps the most visually interesting nook of Charlie’s Bar thanks to an illuminated, very much old-school bar punctuated by glowing purple lights. The bar back monstrosity is quite obviously well-aged if not an original piece, a pair of mirrors flanking illuminated liquor bottles that run the length of the bar. Vintage beer coolers can be found underneath the bar, old installations that have since been supported by more modern cooling for bottled beer.

Televisions surround the Charlie’s Bar interior and keep an eye out for a vintage Budweiser sconce.

The walls inside Charlie’s Bar are a bit sparse relative to denser dive bar atmospheres, a handful of beer mirrors found atop the bar’s brick walls occasionally punctuated by a vintage, framed photograph or two. A lone pool table can be found toward the rear of the space underneath a decidedly modern pool lamp. Televisions surround the Charlie’s Bar interior and keep an eye out for a vintage Budweiser sconce toward the bar’s front window.

Typical of a community-focused dive bar like Charlie’s Bar, the events calendar is filled with communal events that range from Halloween costume contests to holiday feasts. One bonus of visiting Charlie’s Bar is the nearby Tacos el Caballo, a permanent taco truck with a stellar reputation. The tacos are, naturally, the must-try menu items available in an array of proteins that include lengua, tripa and birria.

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