Bars You Should Know In Atlanta guide image


Bars You Should Know In Atlanta

The top bars you should know in Atlanta, according to us.

Atlanta is a sprawling city with new bars popping up every other weekend. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re looking for the perfect place to grab a beer with friends, need a reliable place to watch the Atlanta United game on a weekday, or just want to suggest a great spot for a first date. That’s why we’ve assembled a list of bars for every occasion.


Dryver Bar

The unmarked silver door to Dryver is hidden in the back of Yeppa and Co. in Buckhead. Inside, things go from 0-to-100 when you’re immediately immersed in their moody, red-hued Formula 1-meets-Tron theme. Drinks sit on top of tire tread coasters, racing stripes line the floor, and neon signs in the odd shapes of F1 courses cover the ceiling. We don’t know much about F1 other than Max Verstappen (which we did have to Google), but we do know a lot about alcohol. So, get the Dryver because it’s a tasty dirty martini that comes with an edible cloud (yep, little lemon-flavored gas bubbles) hanging above the cocktail. Despite all the gimmicks, it’s a scene-y spot with well-made cocktails that makes a good pit stop before dinner.

In O4W, on the patio of Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall sits an easy-to-miss wooden staircase that leads to Ranger Station. Your eyes aren't failing you. This speakeasy is f*cking dark inside (seriously bring your glasses and maybe a flashlight), and yes, it's giving mountain lodge circa 1970. They’ve got plaid couches, taxidermied ducks, and so many photos of birds the decorator must have monogrammed binos for bird watching. The fun and cozy decor puts us in an exploratory mood to break away from our go-to cocktails and try items like the fresh gin-based Thunderbolt or vodka-heavy Old Faithful. If one drink turns into four, only you can prevent a hangover—by devouring the not-so-little Lil’ Ranger Burger or the snack pack with standouts like smoked sausage and mushroom jerky. 

Dad's in Virginia Highland has a large patio that's always bumping with a crowd, who sips on everything from Appletinis to Old Fashioneds. But in a rare reversal, we actually prefer being inside because the man cave digs feature funky red bulb lighting above the bar, a working jukebox full of generic rock songs, and movies like Kindergarten Cop projected on the walls. It’s also worth a visit to the bathrooms to peruse the wall of famous dudes from sitcoms and movies (not to brag but we could name ‘em all). After a few drinks, try one of their culinary odes to latchkey kid Americana with items like cheesy pizza rolls, a fancy honey-drizzled uncrustable, or “White Kastle” burgers.

If a member of the Addams family ever designed a bar, we think it would look something like the interior of Mambo Zombi. Located on Edgewood, above Georgia Beer Garden, this bar is full of skull decor, loosely inspired by the Day of the Dead. And you enter through a neon-lit coffin. Their original cocktail creations are mainly rum-based tropical drinks, and you can indulge your (presumably) inner pyro with the Monkey Screwed, a banana-infused rum that’s lit on fire before being served. After downing a few cocktails, make sure to hit the doll-stuffed bathroom where the nightmares of Chucky and Annabelle become a disturbing reality.

If you want to feel like a VIP, head to Jojo’s Beloved at Colony Square for a cocktail. You’ll need a reservation to get in, but if they’re not busy the host will make one for you when you arrive. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, from the oval bar accented with plush purple bar stools and booths lining the outside of the room to the record player decor, low lighting, and the ’70s classics and deep cuts playing in the background. Jojo’s only has cocktails (there are just two beers on the menu), so this one’s for the liquor lovers. If you’re hungry, you can exit straight into the Politan Row food hall, where you'll have options from sushi to tacos.

Remember when you went to the mall and spent all your money playing arcade games while your mom shopped? You can bring that feeling full circle at Joystick, where you can spend all your money playing arcade games while you drink. The divey bar in Edgewood has cheap beer, well drinks, and a ton of old school arcade games that will make you feel nostalgic for simpler days. If you’re looking for a group game, there’s another room with Jenga, foosball, and board games, along with big coffee tables and couches.

My Sisters Room, better known as MSR, is one of only a handful of lesbian bars left in the U.S. (last time we checked it was less than 25), a queer-friendly space to grab a drink or get your groove on out on the dance floor. Although their address changes frequently, MSR is always somewhere in Midtown, and they’ve always got something going on. Karaoke, dance parties, drag shows, and comedy nights are just a few of the events you’ll see on their calendar. They do offer standard light bites like hot dogs and tacos, but you’ll probably want to eat before you go so you can prioritize taking shots at the bar and dancing. Most nights it’s more of a party, but there’s a patio you can hit if you need to reset and take a break from the flashing lights upstairs.

Johnny’s Hideaway in Buckhead is a bar classic that attracts just about everyone from wild partying types to empty nesters exploring their newfound freedom. Their DJ (who has been with them for more than twenty years) keeps the energy high on the dance floor, which makes it a good option for a birthday or friends’ night out.

On the second floor of Ponce City Market, you’ll hear the music bumping before you see the flashing lights spelling out Bar Vegan on the back wall. From the mega-successful Slutty Vegan chain, Bar Vegan serves all the classic drinks like margaritas, mojitos, and sidecars. But we’d recommend going for one of their signature cocktails like the Dias Punch or Marta Express—so good you’ll forget there’s any alcohol in them, so watch yourself. There’s also a variety of plant-based foods (hence the name Bar Vegan) like spaghetti and meatballs, boneless wings, and white truffle shoestring fries. Whether you’re vegan or not, Bar Vegan is a great spot for a drink right off the BeltLine. Just note it’s standing room only after 8pm.

There are a lot of rooftop spots in Atlanta, but if you’re looking for one where you can actually meet people and avoid corporate cliques on team outings, head to Hotel Clermont in the Poncey Highlands. It’s a little more difficult to get into than their lobby bar or the one downstairs in Tiny Lou’s, so get here earlier to avoid the crowds. Even if you do have to wait, you’ll be glad you stuck around when you finally see the awesome view. Head here for a date when you want to impress clients with skyline views and frosé, or for a pre-dinner drink that happens to coincide with golden hour.

If you’re bar hopping around East Atlanta Village, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re going to end up at Argosy, a large brewpub with plenty of seating, and more than 30 different beers on the menu. There’s also wood-fired pizza (our fave) and hand-cut fries with a gazillion dipping sauces (nice to meet you, wasabi mayo). Dig in the upscale pub fare while you play skee-ball or shuffleboard in the back area. Argosy is a fun spot to bring a big group of friends, or your cousin from out of town that you’d actually like to talk to, and if you’re in the area, it’s one of the best bars around.

This spot on the Westside was made for big groups, whether it’s a Happy Hour with coworkers or a bunch of people looking for late-night drinks after dinner at Miller Union. There’s a big bar upstairs with plenty of tables, and downstairs there’s another large bar where you can play things like bocce or darts. It gets packed here, so come early if you want to avoid the crowds of Georgia Tech students releasing their college stress with social drinking and games.

Northside Tavern has been around since 1972, which makes it a classic by default, and it hasn’t changed much over the years. That’s why we like it. It’s the definition of a dive bar, with cheap beers and strong drinks. With all the development in West Midtown, it’s the kind of place that you may be tempted to drive by and dismiss because of its less-than-shiny exterior, but once you’re inside, we think you’ll be charmed by the live music that plays nightly and the comfortable atmosphere where everyone is welcome.

When bar hopping on Edgewood, every good night out needs a last stop, and Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium (better known as “Church”) is the perfect one. If the name didn’t already tip you off, this bar is a little different, starting with $5 PBRs being the go-to drink here and with its religious-themed decor. Church took over Edgewood Corner Tavern and almost doubled their square footage, adding more room and an additional bar to help speed up wait time. It’s packed on the weekends, so if you aren’t able to grab a couch upstairs by the ping pong tables, try your luck on the patio outside.

The James Room is just off the BeltLine near Krog. During the day, it doubles as a cafe, serving brunch and light bites. But when you enter the cafe at night, you'll walk through doors disguised as bookshelves and into a hidden lounge with a swanky interior. It's like a speakeasy that just happens to serve up some truly noteworthy cocktails. If you’re just here to drink, may your cup runneth over. But if you’re hungry too, you can fill your table with shareables like crab cakes, charcuterie, and vegan meatballs. Most often it’s a chill retreat, but on certain nights when they have live music sets with DJ’s to fill the downtime, things are far less lowkey and it’s a party. 

If you’re someone whose jerky consumption is limited to driving cross-country and post-workout, Biltong Bar at Ponce City Market will change that. They offer a wide assortment of South African beef jerky (aka biltong), hand pies, and other South African-inspired snacks, along with some very good cocktails. One of them, the aptly named, frozen “Un-Fu*k Your Day,” is always a favorite. Bring a date, or your colleagues, hell even your parents, and order the biltong sample board with a few drinks before planning your next road trip.

If you need a spot to watch a game, particularly soccer, Brewhouse in Little Five is your sports bar. They have TV’s on every wall and are frequently overrun with Atlanta United fans on game day. Brewhouse has a wide selection of beers with an option for buckets if you’re with a group. If you’re feeling brave, grab a Painkiller—there are three levels of strength, so you can gauge how wild you want to get. If the interior is too crowded, head outside to the large patio. And yes, sports fans, there are TV’s outside too.

Leave of Absence’s 38,000 square foot rooftop is more of an experience than it is a mere bar. Once you make it through the slightly intricate entry process that starts with parking at The Interlock on the Westside, you can opt to hit the restaurant, the pool, or the grove. We recommend that you grab a drink at the bar, then wander around outside to soak up the view of the Atlanta skyline or head up a short set of stairs for views overlooking the pool. They’ve got light bites at the bar like lobster rolls and their LOA burger, but since the food isn’t very memorable, we recommend sticking to the drinks and the views unless you’re planning on visiting the restaurant. Side note: if you want to sip drinks poolside, there’s a $30 cover after 3pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. The grove, which houses a bar and a garden area with olive trees and fire pits, is the only spot where you don’t need a reservation.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

photo credit: Katie Bricker

Bars You Should Know In Atlanta guide image