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Smith’s Olde Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Smith’s Olde Bar

The best bars in Atlanta right now

Whatever your mood, you'll find a place to unwind among the best bars in Atlanta

Written by
Gerrish Lopez
Nicole Letts

Whether you're in the mood for a sophisticated cocktail experience or a laid-back night of drinks and music, Atlanta's bar scene has something for everyone. The best bars in Atlanta—those that offer quality drinks and a memorable experience—include neighborhood dives and high-end lounges, speakeasies and rooftop bars.

Looking for an intimate date night, a fun night out with friends, an evening of cocktails and games? These Atlanta bars have it all, plus a good dose of the Southern hospitality that the city is known for. Whether you’re grabbing a drink before dinner at one of Atlanta’s top restaurants or wrapping up the night in the wee hours, you can’t go wrong at these bars. And if a night out leads to a bit of overindulgence? No worries—get right the next day with one of the best brunches in Atlanta.

Best bars in Atlanta

1. Northside Tavern

Northside Tavern is a legendary dive on the Westside. Located on Howell Mill Road just steps from Atlanta’s burgeoning design and residential districts, Northside Tavern might appear to be a dilapidated eyesore in the midst of renovated industrial splendor. And honestly, it is, which makes it a true Atlanta experience. The famed blues destination draws a crowd for live music seven nights a week and is a must-visit.

2. Eddie’s Attic

An Atlanta music institution, Eddie’s Attic has been bringing tunes to ATLiens’ ears since 1991. If time allows, plan your visit on a Monday to experience the bar’s weekly, competitive open mic nights for aspiring musicians and songwriters. The winner receives a coveted spot in the bi-annual shootout, which is no small victory; previous winners have included John Mayer and Jennifer Nettles.


3. Leon's Full Service

Housed in a former gas station, Leon’s is the sibling to the popular Brickstore Pub, also in the neighborhood. The shaded patio is an inviting spot for sipping seasonally-driven craft cocktails made with fresh ingredients. There's also an on-trend wine list (including lots of pinks and oranges) and a solid assortment of local beers. Don’t miss the hearty pub fare that runs the gamut from a Painted Hills burger and smoked Geechie Boy chicken to steak frites and a local veg and grain plate.

4. Red Phone Booth

Step into a bygone era that evokes the clandestine charm of Prohibition-era speakeasies. Dial the day’s secret code in the red phone booth on Andrew Young Boulevard and a hidden door opens to an upscale lounge that transports you to the 1920s with its sophisticated ambiance and jazz-infused atmosphere. It’s a world of luxury and exclusivity, where finely crafted cocktails are served in an intimate setting of plush leather sofas and dimly lit corners. From classic martinis to inventive concoctions, each drink is a work of art.


5. Smith’s Olde Bar

While Eddie’s edges Smith’s just barely (it’s an elders thing), a trip to Smith’s Olde Bar is just as sweet. Over the years, the intimate music venue and bar has hosted the likes of Lady A, Bush and even the late David Bowie. Hometown boy John Mayer has also been known to play surprise shows for in-the-know fans here and there. If music isn’t your thing (no judgement), the pool tables provide just as much entertainment. Kind of.

6. Our Bar

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Our Bar in Edgewood embodies the essence of community and camaraderie, as it plays host to regular community events. From karaoke nights to club nights to kid-friendly daytime events, the cozy spot is always hopping and the vibe suits the gathering. There are games like UNO and Connect Four to enjoy while sipping cocktails, rotating pop-ups for late-night eats and a DJ to get everyone moving at the right time.


7. Bar Margot

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Located in the Four Seasons Midtown, Bar Margot is an upscale bar named for Margot of The Royal Tenenbaums. The vibe is retro and swanky, with an eclectic elegance reminiscent of the movie. The dim lighting and leather couches exude cool, as does the library of more than 10,000 vinyl records (a DJ spins on Friday and Saturday nights). The innovative cocktail offerings include the Gin Margot with preserved lime and Thai basil. The zero-proof offerings are equally notable, and snacks include the likes of deviled eggs and charcuterie boards.

8. Ranger Station

This speakeasy accessed via a staircase on the patio of Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall has a 1970s mountain lodge vibe, with plaid couches, taxidermy and photos of birds. Cocktails are inspired by U.S. landmarks and natural wonders, like the El Capitan—a spin on the Gimlet with sage and cardamon-infused gin—that honors the famed rock formation in Yosemite, or the Kalalau—a savory take on the pina colada—named for the Nā Pali Coast trail on Kauai. Supplement your sips with a Lil’ Ranger Burger or a camping-inspired snack pack featuring smoked sausage and jerky.


9. Manuel's Tavern

This Atlanta institution is packed with regulars — some even honored with brass nameplates — who contribute to the friendly, convivial vibe. Simplicity is the key, so order a no-nonsense pint or basic well drink. The atmosphere is what you come here for: Manuel’s is a destination for parties, post-game celebrations and general revelry. When it’s time for a bite, the Manuel’s Burger is the way to go.

10. Hotel Clermont

Atlanta has a decent number of rooftop bars, but the one at Hotel Clermont is particularly lovely. You might need to wait a bit (Tiny Lou’s and the lobby bar are options if you just can’t wait), but it’s worth it. Lounge around in lawn chairs on the astroturf, sip a frosé when it’s hot, a hot toddy when it’s not, snack on street food and enjoy the beautiful views, especially as the sun goes down.


11. Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium

This Edgewood bar has everything you need in a late-night bar (or anytime, really). Head to Church, as it’s affectionately known, grab a cheap beer and find a couch upstairs, then check out the walls packed with wacky art and bits of advice from namesake Sister Louisa. Of course a ping pong match is a must, as is Church Organ Karaoke. Sister Louisa’s is a prime spot when you want to roll in for one last drink or two.

12. Joystick Gamebar

Filled with pinball machines, overstuffed recliners, and table lamps, Joystick Gamebar resembles the set of Stranger Things, and it is oddly comforting. If you are craving a relaxed night out with friends, tacos, grilled cheese, boozy slushies, and an endless array of old-school video games, you’ve found your destination.


13. Victory Sandwich Bar Inman Park

Don’t let the sandwich bar name get in the way of what’s really the star of the menu: soda bottle cocktails and a slushie-inspired whiskey and coke. With two locations, there’s plenty of Victory to go around, but we’re partial to the Inman Park spot because of its BeltLine accessibility and plentiful outdoor seating. Spiked sodas are served in their glass bottle vessels while the whiskey-coke slushie comes in the go-to Southern drinking glass, the mason jar. Be sure to order a sandwich, too – because who doesn’t love a snack?

14. Oyster Bar at the Optimist

If plump briny oysters, casual celeb sightings and seasonal batch punches are your style, you’ll love Ford Fry’s Oyster Bar. Dubbed a fish camp and touted as a more laid-back version of big sister restaurant, The Optimist, Oyster Bar is an upscale trip to the sandy coast without ever leaving Atlanta. Indulge in salt water specialties while sipping on local brews complete with complimentary, branded drink huggers. They make the perfect, packable souvenir.


15. 9 Mile Station

Designated Atlanta’s 'elevated beer garden,' 9 Mile Station earns that label honestly. For one, it’s more like dining in al fresco sophistication than in brewski bliss. For another, it’s quite literally elevated. The venue sits atop Ponce City Market, a former Sears building turned food hall and shopping district. While it’s more luxurious than its more common German beer hall cousin, 9 Mile Station does deliver on a robust beer menu. Order a flight to sample multiple varieties.

16. The Painted Pin

While the words 'upscale and 'bowling alley' are rarely used in the same sentence, in the case of The Painted Pin, it’s actually a spot-on description. This is an excellent choice for adults who want to act like kids without their kids. The boutique bar and lounge offers traditional sips like beer and wine, but you’d be remiss not to try their frozen Moscow Mule. It’s the quintessential cool-down after a heated match on the lanes.


17. Cypress Street Pint and Plate

Cypress Street Pint and Plate is the place to watch a televised game, bask in a few hours of sunshine or catch-up with friends. The neighborhood dive is known for having 17 beers on tap and 40 more in bottles. The staff also uses local beers in some of the food recipes. Take the fried mushrooms, for example: battered in locally made SweetWater, they are then dunked in a blistering oil bath.

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