12 Plus One Favorite Atlanta Dive Bars

Put on your best bad jeans and head to one of Atlanta's favorite dive bars.
  • Located in Little Five Points, Elmyr offers graffiti, burritos and cold beer. What's not to love?
    Located in Little Five Points, Elmyr offers graffiti, burritos and cold beer. What's not to love?
  • Milltown Arms Tavern is a friendly neighborhood bar where you'll feel right at home, right away.
    Milltown Arms Tavern is a friendly neighborhood bar where you'll feel right at home, right away.
  • In a strip mall near Piedmont Park, the Highlander offers drinks, killer hamburgers and pool.
    In a strip mall near Piedmont Park, the Highlander offers drinks, killer hamburgers and pool.

Want a drinking establishment where the beer is cheap, the decor weathered and secondhand, the food fried and you don’t have to dress up? Then we’re talking dive bars. If you want a place where you can belly up to the bar and feel right at home, well, here are are 12 favorites.

  1. When you’re listing dive bars, The Euclid Avenue Yacht Club is usually first in line. This Little Five Points icon is a favorite for those who love cheap beer, darts, regular folks and where both the staff and regulars are real characters. There’s live entertainment, poker nights and Trivia Mondays. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. during the week; 2:30 a.m.on Saturday and observes Sunday by closing at midnight.

  2. Buckhead is known for its upscale hotels and shopping, but the Five Paces Inn is a perfect dive bar — as worn out and comfortable as your favorite jeans. Started in 1955, The Five Paces Inn has survived the development craze around it and is still there to serve up your beer cold.

  3. Hidden away on a Buckhead side street is Churchills, a British pub that has been a late-night hangout since 1974. With its long wooden bar and busy dart boards, Churchills is a great place to get away from the hustle of Buckhead. Enjoy the British pub food, beers on draft and the feel of a pub.

  4. Two returning World War II vets opened a tavern in Virginia-Highland that specialized in cold beer (especially Pabst) and hot dogs, and 70-some-odd years later, the formula’s still the same. The food at Moe’s and Joe’s is still great and very reasonably priced; the priciest offering is the Highland Burger (pimiento cheese, jalapeños and bacon) for $10.50. Right next door to Moe’s and Joe’s is another great Virginia-Highland bar, George’s Bar and Restaurant, and George's challenges its neighbor for the best burger. George’s serves up more than a dozen types of burgers (and non-beef burgers as well) and a wide selection of drafts, domestics, premiums and imports beers. George’s started in 1961 as a delicatessen in the front and a bar that sold beer and sandwiches in the back. One of the best things about George’s and Moe’s and Joe’s is that they both have attracted Hollywood stars, sports figures, politicians as well as regular people — and everyone is treated the same.

  5. Clermont Lounge is another Atlanta icon. Nestled in the bottom of the newly renovated Hotel Clermont, the Clermont Lounge is the city’s oldest strip club (“alive since '65”) and its most famous stripper, Blondie, has been performing for more than 35 years. The club opens at 1 p.m., beer is cheap and it’s an experience you won’t find elsewhere. If you don’t believe us, ask Jennifer Lawrence, Jon Hamm, Bill Murray or Kiefer Sutherland — all of whom sing the Clermont Lounge’s praises. Don’t ask Mumford and Sons. They were escorted out for trying to take a picture.

  6. Nestled into a strip center in Virginia-Highland, The Highlander is a 21-and-over place that features a full bar, great food (especially the burgers), a fantastic patio and a full game room with pool tables, air hockey, pinball and, occasionally, live music.

  7. The Elmyr in Little Five Points checks all the boxes for a dive. Questionable decor (actually no decor but lots of graffiti on walls), a small, dimly lit place with a good list of cheap beers and a menu that is designed to soak up the alcohol and fill a hankering for tacos. Elmyr Restaurant & Cantina is a not-to-be-missed late night hangout. The burritos are among the best in town.

  8. The Northside Tavern consistently makes the top dive bar list in Atlanta — and America — and it still lives up to its reputation. Located on Howell Mill Road, the tavern has live music seven days a week and it’s mostly the blues — and it’s real. The tavern started in the 1940s as a gas station and over the years evolved into a blue collar bar that was owned by an active supporter of the Atlanta Blues Society — and the rest is history. 

  9. Located in historic Castleberry Hill (near Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Georgia World Congress Center), the Elliott Street Pub (VIDEO) specializes in authentic neighborhood hospitality, tempting sandwiches, music and art, and ice cold beer. Now in its 12th year, the Elliot Street Pub takes pride in “just being a cool place to hang out.”

  10. Milltown Arms Tavern in Cabbagetown features cold beer, tasty wings, a great jukebox and sports on the television. Even if you don’t know anyone, you’ll soon be engaged in conversation and maybe a little heated one at that if you’re not rooting for the Atlanta United soccer team.

  11. Diesel Filling Station is a small bar with an outdoor patio in Virginia-Highland that serves great food and cheap drinks. Many of the beers are just $3 with the most expensive topping out at $6. There’s always something going on at Diesel, maybe a couple of big games, Wednesday night Texas Hold ‘em or a Game of Thrones Ommegang Tap Takeover of  "Walking Dead" viewings.

  12. The Independent, located in Midtown, offers three of the big Bs when talking about dives: booze, bistro and billiards. In fact, it has 8 nine-foot billiard tables as well as dart board and a friendly wait staff. There’s a lot of weekly events such as $2 Miller High Life General Trivia on Tuesday and Texas Hold ‘em games on Sunday.

Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications.

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