Food & Drink

The Best Dive Bars in Atlanta

Published On 01/21/2016 Published On 01/21/2016

Fancy food and expensive drinks are pretty nice, sure -- but sometimes, the only cure for what ails you is dark, dank, and a little dirty... We’re talking dive bars, and ATL has some of the finest in the country. With cheap drinks, eats, and friendly, unpretentious staff, these dives are sure to create some of the best nights you won’t be able to remember... but hey, isn’t that what Instagram is for? Add these to your bar-hopping bucket list and don’t forget some dollars for the jukebox.

The Euclid Avenue Yacht Club

Euclid Avenue Yacht Club

Little 5 Points

Kitchy in both decor and menu offerings (sharks on the wall and homemade pork rinds), Euclid Avenue Yacht Club has been a local favorite for more than 25 years. They have the requisite cheap drinks, and you can still smoke in here. Also, their menu offerings like Brunswick stew are a nice consolation prize if you don’t find someone to make out with at the end of the night.

Trackside Tavern

Decatur

Aside from the eclectic mix of people (professionals, Agnes Scott students, bikers, and 20-somethings), the best thing about Trackside Tavern is the booze; they have an excellent selection of tap beers alongside a solid variety of bottles, and their staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and happy to mix and pour you pretty much anything. They also have air hockey, pool tables, and darts for any booze-fuelled competition you wish you were good at.

Northside Tavern

Northside Tavern

Westside

Smoky, dingy, and fun, Northside Tavern is a long-existing hole in the wall that is incongruous among the recent rash of upscale development spots on the Westside. To its favor, this blue collar spot also has live blues music, dancing, strong drinks, and fantastic opportunities for people watching. Pro tip: use the bathroom before you go; Northside Tavern’s is notoriously inhospitable.

Moe’s and Joe’s Tavern

Moe’s and Joe’s

Virginia Highland

In business since the 1940s, this is the place to come whether you’re looking to tie on one or looking for a great hangover meal. They also offer what many consider the best specials in the city -- deals like $3.50 pitchers of PBR on Tuesdays, and delicious $3.00 burgers, wings, and more.

The Righteous Room

The Righteous Room

Poncey Highland

Tucked in comfortably next to a cool old theatre, the Righteous Room is intimate and chill. Low lights and jukebox music help its ambience, and it boasts a solid beer selection and a versatile menu with some of the city’s best and most inventive bar fare (we especially like their turkey melt wrapped in pillowy naan).

The Highlander

Midtown

One of the city’s oldest and most renowned dive bars, the Highlander is known for not only having great bar food, but great food, period. That definitely had something to do with them getting recognized on the Food Network. Get here for the bites and then stay to wash it all down with one or more of their notoriously strong drinks.

El Bar

El Bar

Poncey-Highland

Underneath El Azteca, you'll find El Bar: a tiny, booze-fueled room full of people who like to drink and dance. With DJs spinning records, the music can range from decent to incredible, which is admittedly a risk. However, with the super low or sometimes non-existent cover, it's well worth it to pop in.

The Rusty Nail

Pine Hills (& other locations)

Looking for a true, come as you are spot? You found it. The Rusty Nail is dark and smoky, with real food made from scratch, cheap beer, and a great jukebox -- all in a comfortable, welcoming environment.

Elliott Street

Elliott Street

Castleberry Hill

With super cheap drinks, seriously delicious sandwiches, and a basement that regularly hosts live music, this cozy hole-in-the-wall is arguably the most bang-for-your-buck dive in the city.

The Local

Old Fourth Ward

They’ve got a substantial beer list (with everything from high-end Belgians to king sized PBRs) and smoked chicken wings that fall right off the bone. Also, the wildly popular karaoke and trivia have only gotten better since the Local became a smoke-free zone.

Mr. C's

Mr. C’s

Buckhead

This refreshing hidden gem has a fabulous jukebox, a great staff, and clientele that’s legitimately friendly and conversational, so you better have something to talk about. They also have great drink prices and tasty food (try the fried okra and the wings).

The Clermont Lounge

The Clermont Lounge

Poncey-Highland

The world-renowned Clermont Lounge manages to do the impossible: it’s so iconic out of towners must see it, and yet so fantastic it’s always full of regulars. And with fantastically atypical strippers (you know, the kind that crush beer cans with their breasts), cheap drinks, karaoke, and more, it’s no wonder it’s become such an ATL staple.

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Brook Bolen thinks there's nothing better than a good dive bar. Follow her @BrookBolen for more insight into ATL's darkest watering holes.

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1. Euclid Avenue Yacht Club 1136 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 (Little 5 Points)

For over 25 years, the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club has been serving up cheap drinks and classic bar snacks in kitchy surroundings.

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2. Trackside Tavern 313 E College Ave, Decatur, GA 30030 (Decatur)

After burning down in ‘09, this legendary dive's back with the original name-scratched wood benches, a new wood/brick bar, and two fresh pool tables. Munch chili-topped sweet potato fries, 1/2lb beef franks, or an Angus Roquefort burger while refreshing with 17 drafts like New Belgium’s Somersault ale, which’s “blonde with a suggestion of cloudiness”, so have fun drinking Owen Wilson.

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3. Northside Tavern 1058 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 (Home Park)

Since 1972, Northside Tavern has been plying the ATL with blues and booze. Inside the dive’s brick- and neon-adorned walls, this one-time gas station in Home Park offers nightly live music -- regional blues, jazz and roots genres included -- drink specials, and a convivial atmosphere. Play pool, eat wings, chicken tender boxes, hot dogs, burgers, or gyros, and drink cheap beers, any night of the week. And catch a round of tunes with Mudcat, the house band, always there to satisfy your blues-loving soul.

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4. Moe's and Joe's Tavern 1033 N Highland Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 (Virginia Highland)

Moe's and Joe's is a classic Atlanta dive bar with great specials like $3.50 pitchers of PBR and $3 burgers, wings and more.

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5. The Righteous Room 1051 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Eyes are immediately drawn to the tree stuck right through the bright-red ovular bar, the devil's in the details at this rock-n-roll bar and kitchen near Atkins Park. If you go straight to the bar for a local draft from the handful they've got, you might not properly take them all in. They're everywhere -- the chipped black paint coming off the brick walls, layer after layer of stickers and graffiti left by customers, AC/DC and Braves knick knacks -- and the cooks pay just as much attention to details in seemingly simple flatbreads and sandwiches with a sprinkle of arugula or a rosemary glaze.

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6. The Highlander 931 Monroe Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 (Midtown)

Whether you're looking for late-night eats or a late-night party, head to The Highlander in Midtown where they've got a patio, full game room (pool tables, air hockey, pinball, and more), delicious bar eats, and, of course, a full bar to keep you well hydrated.

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7. El Bar 939 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 (Virginia Highland)

With a rotating lineup of DJs, this tiny dive bar in Virginia Highland packs in locals who come for drinks and some serious dancing.

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8. Rusty Nail 2900 Buford Hwy NE, Brookhaven, GA 30329

Known as the “Cheers of the South," the Rusty Nail is a classic dive bar on the Buford Highway, sporting a dark interior, cheap beer, jukebox tunes, and from-scratch BBQ. How do they make this BBQ, you ask? You won't be able to miss the 18-foot "gun" in the parking lot that they use to smoke pork and brisket. Stop in for trivia and a cheap pitcher of beer, and get your hands messy with a pulled pork sandwich, a burger, or the decades-old family-recipe lasagna.

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9. Elliott Street Deli & Pub 51 Elliott St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30313 (Castleberry Hill)

Elliott Street Deli & Pub is as authentic as the centuries-old building in which it lives. The tiny -- so tiny, you may not even know it existed -- neighborhood pub is known for its deli sandwiches upstairs, and live music venue, The 51, downstairs. The sandwiches are exactly what you’d expect of your butcher paper-packaged meal: quality meat topped with the proper accoutrement and served fresh-baked bread at an affordable price. There are classics like the French Dip, Reuben, and all-beef hot dogs, and specialties like the Elliott Street Ultimate which features three types of meat, two cheeses, and a whole host of toppings and spreads. Stop in, grab a sandwich, and head downstairs for cheap beer, live jazz, and burlesque.

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10. The Local 758 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 (Virginia Highland)

With rickety wood booths, bare brick walls, dart boards abound, a karaoke stage, weekly trivia nights, and a string-light-lined patio, The Local is the epitome of the ideal dive bar. The standard bar food you'll order separately at the walk-up counter is a glutenous affair with greasy sliders, saucy hot wings sided by crispy french fries. You can wash them down with a tall PBR or treat the whole table to a pitcher of a high-end Belgian ale, but we won't judge you if you keep it all to yourself.

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11. Mr. C's 1983 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

They call themselves the best dive bar in Atlanta, and with uber-cheap pitchers of beer, who can argue?

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12. Clermont Lounge 789 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 (Poncey Highland)

Virginia Highland's Clermont Lounge is oh-so many things: a dive bar, a live music venue, a frequent karaoke spot, and, perhaps most notably, Atlanta’s oldest strip club. What more could you ask for?

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