Going out in Atlanta is a one-of-a-kind experience. Thanks to unique laws found in the downtown area known as Underground Atlanta, last call at many of the bars found in downtown Atlanta is not until 4 am. Party-goers are free to wander around the “City Beneath the Streets” with their drinks in their hands because of Atlanta’s open-container provision.
It isn’t just the city’s entertainment-friendly laws that make visiting Atlanta such an exciting time, but rather the various bars and their quirky owners that dot the streets. Home to some of the most colorful and entertaining establishments, Atlanta’s bar and food scene is sure to please even the most well-seasoned foodies and bar attendees. Here’s a round up of some of Atlanta’s quirkiest and best pubs, bars, and restaurants.
The Vortex Little 5 Points
The Vortex is a charming little place, and by charming little place, I mean downright rowdy, in your face, best-burgers-in-town, chaotic bar meets thrift store. The Vortex was started by a group of siblings from L.A. who had an itch to start something new. After experiencing the times of their lives in Atlanta, the trio packed up, moved, and with no prior experience, opened up what would become one of Atlanta’s most-loved bar. The bar abides by a ‘no funny business’ policy where guests are semi-routinely kicked out for acting entitled, rude, or inappropriately drunk because here, the customer isn’t always right.
These kinds of casual rules have slowly transformed into a mantra of sorts that now sits pasted to the front of their menu. The Vortex L5P is actually the second location owned by the same group of siblings, the other being The Vortex Midtown, but both equally as inviting.
The bars are known for their exceptional burgers, which are basically guaranteed to give you the best-deserved heart attack of your life. The decor has a gritty junkyard appeal to it, as most of the things on the wall are donations from loyal fans. For anyone with a taste for a classicburger or a Quadruple Bypass- which happens to also be the name of one of their burgers- bar experience, the Vortex L5P and its sister, the Vortex Midtown are the spots to be.
Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium
For the cheeky sacrilegious folks who have a great sense of humor and do not suffer from coulrophobia (the fear of clowns), then the Church is for you. Covered wall-to-wall in semi-blasphemous – and definitely entertaining – religious-themed paraphernalia and clowns, the decor is not the only unique part of the experience. Guests are also invited to don priest robes while hanging out. The bar is best known for its sangria, which, if you’re looking for an extra buzz, is filled with alcohol-infused fruit you can munch on.
The Church Emporium is two-stories, and upstairs guests can find dart boards, a ping pong table and if they’re lucky, an organ-playing priest to accompany karaoke. The bar itself is located in Edgewood which is known for being a bit rough around the edges, but the bar itself is safe and filled with friendly hipsters.
Like many drag bars, Lips does it big and glamorous. The walls of the bar are decorated with colorful papers, chandeliers and disco balls hanging from the ceiling. Toned legs topped by frilly skirts or wrapped in shimmering dresses seem to kick out from every corner. Drink names match the raucous theme with cocktails like the Drag-O-Rita and Charlie Girl’s Fruity Lips available for purchase. Most of the guests in attendance are patrons celebrating bachelorette or birthday parties. Though not known particularly for its food, what Lips lacks in fine dining, it compensates for in style and flare.
Dance along if you like because some patrons do when showtime heats up. The show features high heels, big breasts, and lots of makeup. Though the bar caters mainly to women, men are encouraged and welcome to come. Shows can become quite expensive (nights include $10 cover, $15 food minimum, and drinks if you’re into that) but the night is more than worth it.
Joe’s Bar & Grill
Joe’s is Atlanta’s locals best-kept secret. The bar is known for having cheap drinks, free birthday parties, and excellent service. For people looking to find exemplary southern hospitality, this is the place to go. The staff is always exceedingly friendly and will often go above and beyond to satisfy their customers’ needs. The owner and host is Lorenzo, who will personally ensure that every single guest that attends is receiving the best time that they offer.
Located on the East side of the A, no other venue can compete with its prices and service, really making it the spot to be on any night of the week. Food is classically delicious, serving traditional American bar food to a par. Not only that but you’re sure to have a great time dancing, as Joe’s is known for having some of the best DJs in town. For a truly Atlanta experience, this is the place to be.
Bone Garden Cantina
Authentic Mexican food and drinks might not be what you expect to get out of Atlanta, but the Bone Garden Cantina defies expectations. The inside of the venue is covered wall-to-wall in skeletons and devils, reminiscent of Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration. The restaurant even features a skeleton riding a motorcycle on its ceiling. The place can be described as a Vortex meets Church get away – it too has funky decoration and house rules pertaining to the behavior of their patrons written on the back of the menu.
The Bone Garden’s food and drink menu is impressive, offering pages of tequilas and mezcal to choose from as well as tasty food options that range from traditional tacos and tamales to more culturally entrenched options like goat soup. We dare you to suspend any food shy habits to try something new like their Yucatan salad with fresh grapefruit and avocados. You’re guaranteed to score a winning dish whether you heat things up with a spicy platter or satisfy your sweet tooth with their Almond Flan. The restaurant is known to get quite busy on weekend evenings, so get there early to beat the crowd. If it gets too busy, however, the place does offer outdoor seating, and what better way to enjoy a warm Georgian evening than lounging on a patio, sipping an ice-cold Margarita?