Opened in 1952, Gene’s Haufbrau holds the distinction of oldest continuously operating bar in Charleston and has the opaque glass block exterior to live up to that hype. Across what used to be two storefronts, Gene’s Haufbrau occupies a portion of a busy area of Charleston’s Avondale and West Ashley neighborhoods. The usual dive bar suspects can be seen among the decorations here, including beer coasters under epoxy lining the bar and graffiti found in spots, but keep an eye out for the beer trays that line the small ridge above the bar, some of the vintage pieces particularly striking and not always typical dive bar wallpaper.
The draw here beyond the innate charm of a Charleston dive bar is the Gene’s Haufbrau beer selection that can number more than 170 varieties across draft, bottle and can offerings. The options rotate on a seasonal basis, but the immense selection complements a better-than-a-dive-bar food menu that includes burgers, sandwiches and even daily blue plate specials. Exposed brick inside adds to the ambiance, the interior wall that once separated the two storefronts used as centerpiece across now two rooms of divey drinking. Built-in wooden booths add to the Gene’s Haufbrau seating options, nestled among bar games like pinball, shuffleboard and a vintage-style foostball table.