• Where to go to plunge into Atlanta's dive bar culture

    By: Phil W. Hudson, For the AJC


    Atlanta is home to a variety of eclectic dive bars, and each comes with its own personality, distinct entertainment options and neighborhood feel.

    While many of the city’s watering holes seek to create a community “where everybody knows your name” reminiscent of the 1980s television sitcom “Cheers,” we’ve compiled a list of places that offer a unique Atlanta flavor so you can stop referencing Jermaine Dupri’s “Welcome to Atlanta” when you need an idea for something cool to do in the Big Peach.

    Joystick Gamebar

    Joystick Gamebar off Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward is a self-described “nerdy dive bar” that has a wide offering of vintage arcade games and retro pinball machines proving video games aren’t just for kids anymore. If you demand live music at your bar, they have that, too, when Joystick hosts “Rock Band” video game contests.

    427 Edgewood Ave SE., Atlanta. 404-525-3002, joystickgamebar.com.


    Darwin’s Burgers and Blues in Sandy Springs may be one of the city’s best-kept secrets with events like gospel-themed lunch, painting classes and live bands. If you’re in the northern part of the city but want to experience a proper neighborhood dive bar feel, Darwin’s is a safe bet.

    234 Hilderbrand Drive, Sandy Springs. 470-399-5060, darwinsburgers.com. 

    10 High Club

    The 10 High Club at Dark Horse Tavern in Virginia-Highland isn’t much of a secret anymore due to the popularity of Metalsome Live Band Karaoke, which allows its patrons to front a real band on select nights. You may want to get there when doors open at 9 p.m., because it frequently hits capacity.

    816 C N. Highland Ave, NE, Atlanta. 404-873-3607, darkhorseatlanta.com.

    Kat’s Cafe

    Kat’s Cafe in Midtown is a nightclub known for its martinis that features a wide variety of entertainment options, including stand-up comedy, open mic nights, spoken word poetry and live music. Some of its events are ticketed, so make sure you check the website for details.

    970 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-347-2263, katscafeatlanta.com.

    Sister Louisa’s

    Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium, known by the regulars as “Church,” probably takes the cake for Atlanta’s weirdest dive bar with organ karaoke, pingpong tournaments and tarot card readings. If you’re not afraid of its sacrilegious decor and want something very, very different, Sister Louisa’s is the place to go in the Old Fourth Ward.

    466 Edgewood Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-522-8275, sisterlouisaschurch.com.

    Elliott Street Deli & Pub

    The Elliott Street Deli & Pub in Castleberry Hill is an absolute “must do” for those looking for something walking distance from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Plus, it’s home of the “Kevin Scott Tuesday Night Jam” if you want to check out some of the city’s notable avant-garde culture.

    51 Elliott St. SW, Atlanta. 404-523-2174, elliottstreet.com.

    Northside Tavern

    The Northside Tavern in Atlanta’s Westside has become a staple since opening in 1972 and is popular among music lovers, pool players and Atlanta natives. There’s no cover during the week, but it usually has a $10 cover during the weekends, so bring some cash on Friday and Saturday nights.

    1058 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta. 404-874-8745, northsidetavern.com.

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