Chucktown Tavern is my favorite bar in Charleston. Hands down. Where else in Charleston can you get a Trashcan? No where. So go order one. I’m not going to tell you what it is, this is something you need to learn for yourself. I know Chucktown Tavern’s not for everyone–it’s far from hipster, there’s karaoke every night, and they close early on Saturday nights–but it has its own special kind of charm that I hold dear to my heart. Sometimes I forget that most of the bars I frequent at night are actually restaurants during the day. I’ve been going to Chucktown Tavern for over 2 years now, and I’d never eaten there before this week. I honestly didn’t even realize they served food.
When we arrived, we grabbed a menu clipboard and silverware from a stand at the door and seated ourselves at a booth with a nice view of the TV. The bartender came by to take our drink orders within 2 minutes of when we sat down, which was nice. The menu is very straightforward and unpretentious, nothing fancy or frou-frou about it, which is kind of refreshing for downtown Charleston. We started with an order of the black bean cakes, which were absolutely delicious. Ben was a little iffy at first, because they look like slabs of asphalt (I mean, it’s a black bean cake. It’s hard to make it look pretty), but he ended up loving them. They’re made with black beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and peppers, and a little bit of flour, pan fried, and topped with a sour cream sauce and served with a side of pico de gallo and jalapeño pepper slices. This was my favorite dish out of everything we ordered–they were soooo good.
Ben was feeling kind of boring, so instead of trying one of their signature stuffed burgers, he opted for an old fashioned 1/3 lb burger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo, served with a side of house cut fries and homemade coleslaw. As soon as he took a bite, he started making those noises people make when they really like the food they’re eating. He kept mumbling “this is so good,” but with his mouth full of burger, so it sounded more like “threfsj irskds srrrr grsiodbfdl.”
I’m more adventurous, so I ordered the Swamp Fox burger, a 1/2lb angus beef burger stuffed with chili, cheddar cheese, and bacon, topped with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and homemade coleslaw, served with a side of fries and even more coleslaw. It was divine. Seriously. I never end up finishing an entire burger at a restaurant, let alone a 1/2lb burger stuffed with chili and bacon, but I definitely finished this burger (even though it started to fall apart at the end and I had to finish eating it with a fork, like a barbarian). The chili definitely tasted homemade and had hints of chorizo sausage in it, which I really liked. The meat was really well seasoned and would have been tasty on its own. I think the coleslaw was a really great addition to the burger, as it was made with vinegar (rather than mayo), and gave the burger an extra level of freshness.
The only thing we weren’t really crazy about were the fries. They were definitely hand cut and fresh, but they seemed to me to be a bit overcooked and lacked the fluffy interior one has come to expect from this national staple. In the future, I’ll probably replace the fries with something else on their delicious list of side items, like the mac and cheese….which I totally ordered. (I mean, you had to have known I was going to order it. I order mac and cheese LITERALLY every time it’s on a menu. I’m a sucker) So I ordered the side of macaroni and cheese and I absolutely loved it. It was creamy (rather than baked), and tasted like they made it fresh the second I ordered it. You can definitely tell it’s made with real cheddar cheese and fresh cream. It was basic and extraordinary all at the same time. It’s probably my favorite mac and cheese in Charleston (other than KSG’s mac and cheese eggrolls which are something of a religious experience).
They didn’t really have a huge dessert selection (only 3 options), so we chose to skip dessert and opt for the check (which was relatively cheap considering all the food we got). I have to say I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised with the entire experience. We had a delicious meal that made me feel like I was eating dinner at my friend’s grandmother’s house (I’d say my grandmother, but they’re both horrible cooks). Everything was fresh and delicious, and made with a certain amount of love and care, which I think is really makes a difference in the food.
159 Market Street
Charleston, SC 29401