Best Downtown Bar

The Royal American

Readers Pick

  • Ruta Smith

Thriving since opening its doors in 2011, The Royal American is, bizarrely, just now picking up its first ever Best of Charleston win — and, rightfully so, readers have actually recognized the venue twice this year, with Best Downtown Bar and Best Place to See Local Hip-Hop.

Music-wise, the venue dishes it all — from dirty rock ‘n’ roll and sensitive indie to twanged-out country and booming hip-hop, the latter of which has filled a great need in recent years. After learning more about the lack of inclusivity in downtown Charleston, The Royal American decided to do something about it and has since hosted nights like the Cocktail Bandits’ Trappy Hour and, on April 20, launched the city’s first hip-hop and R&B festival. This all contributes to why the venue is also the best bar downtown. With its commitment to great local and visiting acts in addition to good, creative grub; a gritty, kitschy, and comfy atmosphere; and their legendary super-boozy punches, The Royal American is where it — all of it — is at. Co-owner John Kenney says, “We set out to become not only a neighborhood bar with great food, but also a legitimate live music venue, and I feel as though in this past year, it’s all finally coming together. I feel a huge sense of community when I walk in our doors, and I love seeing folks from all different walks of life interacting with each other. When you walk into The Royal American, you can feel 100 percent certain you can be yourself, with no judgement. You are part of our little all-inclusive family.” —Kelly Rae Smith

Runner-up: Prohibition

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