See if you can touch both walls at once.
Downton Winston-Salem is a concentrated area, a dense but bustling classic downtown area filled with restaurants, retail and a brewery or two. At the north edge of the strip sits a miniscule building only visible because of the parking lot that provides it some separation from neighboring buildings. About a block or two later, downtown dissolves into roads less traveled, and that border suits a place like the Silver Moon Saloon well, one foot downtown, one foot squarely outside of it.
Silver Moon Saloon is a bar, plain and simple. As their Twitter bio has long stated, it’s a bar, a bartender and some drinks. Fair point. The only remotely ornate aspect of the space is the exterior signage, featuring painted lettering on one wall and a cut metal sign over the front door, complete with die-cut moon, cactus and other vaguely Western shapes.
As with many great downtown dive bars, Silver Moon Saloon is long and narrow, a shotgun layout if there ever was one. Upon entering, the entirety of the bar’s contents is in full view, with a skinny bar at left and a row of roughly a dozen stools to accompany it. The wall at right features red paint that quickly gives way to exposed brick, a look that you might achieve by grabbing hold of some wallpaper and ripping it horizontally.
PBR blue neon shines behind the bar, complemented by rope lighting for that classic dive bar glow. The layout is profoundly not pandemic-friendly, and those with claustrophobia or a distaste for their fellow man are not encouraged to visit. At high drinking times, the bar is small, thin and crowded, or in other words, a perfect dive bar setting.
Hilariously, TripAdvisor has categorized Silver Moon as both a “night life” attraction and restaurant, but I assure you that the only food you’ll find inside is the olive that sits atop one of the bar’s surprisingly impressive Bloody Mary’s. And if that’s a little too fancy for your tastes, the bar area was decorated by a stack of PBR cases from floor to ceiling on my last visit, a dive bar monolith of sorts.
If you’re following the theme here, it will not shock you to find out that the bathrooms at the rear of the bar are small, skinny and single-stalled. The graffiti certainly doesn’t wait to get inside each small room, with copious carved and marker acronyms above the common-use sink in the hallway. The bright red paint in the stalls themselves gives way to a particularly colorful set of markings, which somehow give the illusion that the marker paint is perpetually dripping into the toilet.
Outside, against the aforementioned parking lot sits, you guessed it, a long and skinny patio area, complete with the black metal patio furniture that looks exactly as you think it does based on that description. The patio area wraps around to the back of the building, with a small wooden patio towering a few inches above the parking lot, with a wood fence to box in the drinking.
Silver Moon Saloon is really a bar on a border, a tiny, divey sliver that gives off the feeling of a local watering hole while staying connected to Winston-Salem’s downtown stretch. In fact, a handful of bars in a walking radius are worth visiting, but any respectable drinking loop starts and ends with Silver Moon, the slender king of Winston-Salem dive bars.