Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Charleston Area Hot Dog Joints - Shaar's Barbershop and Bar & Grill

Shaar's is on the corner of Glenwood and Central Avenues on Charleston's West Side. It is one of those very typical little corner beer joints. Typical, that is, for most towns our size, but there are actually very few in Charleston. Shaar's has been there for as long as I can remember (on the next corner to the east there is a twin building that used to house "Abraham's" - now called "Park Place").

The atmosphere is full of character....and smoke. Another proud supporter of people's right to emphysema and lung cancer, they make no bones about having a place where smokers can feel at home. Warning signs on the door give you ample warning to proceed at your own risk.

Other than the smoke the real character of the place it in its old booths, lights and a vintage 1950's wooden phone booth in the rear. The sunlight streaming through the high windows into the relative gloom and ever-present smoke is reminicent of a Bogie movie. There are two TV's, and when I was there one was tuned to soap operas and the other to the TV guide channel. NASCAR posters and advertising props adorn the walls and ceilings. A billiard table in the back is lit by a classic green hanging lamp and a sign announcing Friday pool tournaments is conspicuously posted by the front door. As I said, the place is loaded with character, and while I was waiting on my to go order I had a chance to soak it all in. Cough.

I'm sad to report that the the hot dogs are pretty bad. For a dollar-fifty each you get chili that tastes like browned hamburger with ketchup on it, slaw that tastes like it was fresh-made last month, and a microwaved bun that is so tough you have to tear it, not so much bite it. I bought two and ate one - something that almost never happens to me.

I was very disappointed that a place with this much character had such horrid hot dogs. This completely blows my theory that the worse the place looks the better the dogs are. Nothing in my universe makes sense now. I have to start over from scratch.

PS: In case you are wondering, the barber shop is actually next door, but evidently it was cheaper to buy one sign with both businesses listed.

Head's up Rick Lee : This would be a great place to shoot some interior photos.

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