NFT Atlanta Nightlife

Atlanta / Nightlife

Atlanta’s nightclub owners fought the law, and the law won. The city’s strip clubs used to be considered some of the best in the nation, but with the government shut-down of the infamous Gold Club, the city’s adult entertainment scene has lost a bit of its glitz, though expensive, scantily clad girls are still in plentiful supply. Just ask Kid Rock.

With a rash of Buckhead nightclub shootings and deaths, the Atlanta City Council had the bright idea that closing the bars earlier would help reduce the violence. This decision ran some clubs out of business, and ended the 24-hour private nightclubs in the city, including Backstreet, arguably the most famous gay dance club in the Southeast. With Buckhead an under-construction “Rodeo Drive of the South,” (read: hole in the ground), the city put a lot of money and effort into touting their “nightlife district” at the much-maligned Underground Atlanta. Through a legal loophole, the clubs there can skirt the earlier 2:30 am bar closing time and keep pouring alcohol until 4 am, and patrons can carry open containers of alcohol from club to club. However, due to Georgia’s antiquated blue laws, on Saturday and Sunday they have to shut down the party at the same time as everyone else. The next big idea to convert Underground to a casino will be perpetually stalled until the state’s Bible-thumping governor is replaced. Bottom line: Underground Atlanta’s track record of success is about the same as our Atlanta Thrashers (downright atrocious, but with faint glimmers of promise). Keep an eye elsewhere in downtown, Midtown (especially Crescent Avenue), and up-and-coming enclaves like Inman Park for nightlight that’s still underrated.

Where Booty-Shaking is The Bomb
Hip hop music lovers can be found at T.I.P. Harris’ Club Crucial ( 2517 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy). Club Motion (Map 9) is one of the downtown area’s better dance destinations. The legendary MJQ Concourse (Map 7) on Ponce de Leon Avenue has been dishing out the beats for years to a loyal crowd. Blake’s (Map 6) is where the gay dance scene is now that Backstreet and Blu are closed. For two-stepping gay men, saddle up to Cowtippers (Map 3) on Piedmont. Club Opera (Map 5) features the beautiful people of Atlanta dancing with top-notch DJ action. The latest ass-shaking destination for scenesters is on Friday nights. The Decatur Social Club at Azul (Map 30) offers a big patio to socialize and dance while local DJ’s spin. ATL also has plenty of floor space for the formally trained. Serious salsa dancers shine the floors at the Sanctuary (Map 21), La Rumba (Map 35), and Reunion’s Lounge (Map 36). Swing kids flip out Wednesday nights at the 57th Fighter Group (Map 20). Ballroom amateurs head to socials at Take Hold Ballroom (Map 25), Atlanta Dance Centre (Map 35), or Knights of Columbus Hall (Map 22) on Buford Highway.

Single and Swilling
Crescent Street in Midtown is a single and hipster haven. Try Leopard Lounge (Map 5), Cosmopolitan Lava Lounge (Map 5), as well as new additions Ri Ra Irish Pub (Map 5) and Joia (Map 5) for an active singles scene. The Virginia-Highlands bar scene caters to a more relaxed, thirty-something crowd. Neighborhood pubs rule, so grab a pint and make some new friends. Highland Tap (Map 7) has earned its rightful reputation as a warm and friendly meat market. Keep your eyes open for the new Pure in Inman Park, slated to join trendy neighbors like P’Cheen (Map 11) and The Albert (Map 11). If you’re looking for love in Buckhead, head to Phipps Plaza, where you can search for your future mate at Twist (Map 22) and The Tavern at Phipps (Map 22). Stats (Map 9) in the heart of Downtown is an after-work singles magnet.

Atlanta Drinking Institutions
NFT loves the “no idiots” rule in effect at Vortex (Map 11). Too bad it can’t be applied to all aspects of life. The giant skeleton entrance at the original Little Five Points location is pretty cool, too. Atkins Park (Map 7) in the Virginia-Highlands has been pouring since 1922, making it the oldest tavern in Atlanta. Manuel’s Tavern (Map 7) has been the site of many a spirited debate, drawing a high-profile crowd of local politicians, cops, and journalists. The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar, and View (Map 9) is one of Atlanta’s classiest venues to sip a cocktail. Limerick Junction (Map 7) in the Virginia Highlands is Atlanta’s oldest Irish pub. For a bar that matches its surrounding neighborhood perfectly, check out the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club (Map 11) (simply “The Yacht” to regulars) in Little Five Points.

Strip Clubs
The Cheetah (Map 5) is one of Atlanta’s classier establishments, boasting the upscale restaurant, Alluvia. If you’ve ever wondered where old strippers go to die, The Clermont Lounge (Map 7) in the basement of the seedy Clermont Motor Hotel in the Poncey-Highlands will answer that question in gruesome detail. The Cheshire Bridge Road area is chock full of “gentlemen’s clubs,” including Doll House (Map 26), Tattletale (made famous in the Motley Crue refrain) (Map 25), Flashers (Map 35), and the 24K Club (Map 26) along with a plentiful supply of “health spas.” Other well-known Atlanta strip clubs include Fantasy Fare (Map 5), Goldrush Show Bar (Map 51), and The Pink Pony (Map 22). Don’t neglect to visit the Pony’s second location, Pink Pony South (4730 Frontage Rd, Forest Park), near the airport, which is fitting because it’s literally the size of an airport hangar. Looking for naked men? Swinging Richards (Map 1) is an all-nude, all-gay extravaganza.

Dive Bars
Lenny’s (Map 14) in Downtown Atlanta is a local landmark for grungy carousing. In Buckhead’s electric clubbing district, the Buckhead Amusement Center (Map 21) offers a special charm, along with feisty veterans like The Pool Hall (Map 21). For a real blues experience, don’t miss Northside Tavern (Map 4). On the gay side of life, the Phoenix (Map 6) is not where the pretty boys go. The Star Community Bar (Map 11) in Little Five Points is a punky retro dive complete with an Elvis shrine. The Earl (Map 34) in East Atlanta offers a damn fine burger to go along with beer swilling and some hard rocking live music; their Sunday “Dunch” is the stuff of legend as well.

Live Music
There are a lot of great live music venues in Atlanta. The Tabernacle (Map 9) in Downtown Atlanta is a former church. The Rialto Center at Georgia State University, (Map 9), though often overshadowed by the Woodruff Arts Center, often hosts quality international performances. Smith’s Olde Bar (Map 3) in Midtown features Americana music acts. Eddie’s Attic (Map 30) in Decatur helped John Mayer get his break and showcases acoustic talents, both local and national. For the finest in live jazz, check out Churchill Grounds (Map 5) next to the Fox Theatre. For the real deal in blues music, head to the gritty Northside Tavern (Map 4) or Blind Willie’s (Map 7) in the Virginia-Highlands for a toe-tapping good time. For bluegrass, join the fiddlers at the Red Light Café (Map 6), and if rap, soul, and R&B are more your style, the Apache Café (Map 5) has you covered. Don’t forget about The Fox Theatre (Map 5) as a music venue. With the right band or musician, it is a memorable concert experience. Should you get that itch for live-band karaoke, The 10 High Club (Map 7) in Virginia-Highland provides a night you won’t forget.

Take the Party Outdoors
Atlantans love to drink outdoors as much as they like to dine outdoors. The most picturesque place to sip a beer or cocktail may be Park Tavern (Map 6) on the corner of Piedmont Park. Cheapskates should wait until it rains, when a beer goes for a buck. Fuego (Map 5) in the Crescent Street club area offers a spacious patio and is a good place to put some tapas in your tummy to counteract all of the booze you’ll be consuming for the rest of the night. Little Five Points’ Brewhouse Café (Map 11) has a patio big enough for all your rowdy friends. Holy Taco (Map 34) and La Casita’s (Map 34) patios in East Atlanta fill up quick, especially for Casita’s $2 margaritas on Mondays, cheap tacos, and the city’s best tamales.

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

Damn it, I wish I loved PBR. Drinking this lifeblood for cheap-asses could literally save most casual bar-goers I know about $200 monthly. Every unpretentious bar in A-town hawks it for about $2 per gallon. Unfortunately, it tastes like a liquefied garden hose sucked through a dead burro's teats. Southern hipsters seem to love it, or at least the ironic look of it in their paws. I find Pabst tolerable if chilled to near-freezing (tiny icebergs within are a good sign), and guzzled while standing near a heat source (read: barbeque) or a DJ whose can is bigger than yours. Even then it's drinking for purpose, not joy.

Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

Midway Pub
The Midway Pub is the rollicking sort of brew house I wish I had around the corner. Case in point: there's a restored, 70-something Firebird's hood hanging in the arcade. The interior is spacious as your high school gymnasium, and the patio borders Florida. At the moment, these cats are serving a keg of get-it-while-it-lasts Tommyknocker Rye Porter accidentally shipped from Colorado. Tapped it anyway. Cleaning the tatter-tot mound from their sandwich plates is a manly, gut-busting risk, even for a fat ass like me. Get the turkey Rueben, and beware the jerk-chicken Philly will roast your esophagus. A headquarters for English Premiere League Soccer, the Midway's open seven days 'til 2:30 a.m.

Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

Ormsby's is the perfect bar for a shitty February afternoon. It oozes warmth. It promotes silly gamesmanship. Upstairs is slick bar and restaurant dressed in pretty woods, while downstairs looms a fun-bunker, a cave, a huge space teaming with backgammon, Bocce, darts, pool and full-length shuffleboard. The entrance is nondescript, a single door with an "O" tucked beneath the overpriced furniture showplace Room & Board. It keeps with the speakeasy theme that's grown popular around the city--and indeed the country--of late. The draft beer is adventurous (Duchesse De Borgogne alongside a killer strand of Terrapin called Wake 'n Bake), though I feel the decor screams for a basic Guinness. Although huge and practically brand-new (it opened around Christmas), Ormsby's gets packed. This is your favorite college bar after its spent five years slaving in the real world, developed top-shelf sensibilities and a penchant for drinking potent beer from snifters. Another welcome addition to the burgeoning Westside.

Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

TJs Sports Bar & Grill
TJ's is an Alpharetta institution, having survived on Atlanta's fickle barflies since 1990. Ironically, that was about the same time the Atlanta Falcons drafted Brett Favre, which on the surface seems totally irrelevant. Here's the thing: Perhaps the greatest concentration of Green Bay Packers fans--those beer-swilling, sausage-grinding, boastful loudmouths of the arctic (as described by a Bears adherent)--to be found this side of Milwaukee are at TJ's. Pop in on a Sunday, now that TJ's has the NFL ticket and a few cinema-sized screens, and see legions of Cheeseheads chant Wisconsin-centric fight songs with refrains like "the Bears still suck." On the long tables in the main room stand little shrines to Lombardi and Lambeau and the flip-flopping geezer himself. Not my cup o' tea, but one marvels at the enthusiasm. Regarding the food, the Classic Reuben ($8.95) from the "Championship Series Sandwiches" side of the menu was the sloppiest, most buttery and delightful version I've had in years. But I'd lean toward the heaping Philly Boy subs, served with chicken or beef. A word to the wise: they sometimes stiff you on the onion rings. With light-beer pitchers under $7, you won't much mind.

Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

P'cheen, the Old Fourth Ward's hippest nightspot, is a celebration of culinary diversity and damn-strong beers. Their high-gravity list, which evolves to something else each time I'm there, touts an array of the eye-crossing stuff. For the more patient drinker, I'd advise you set down your $2 PBR once in a while and grab a Boddingtons, priced right for a 20 oz. slugger at $5. Like everybody, I can't keep my hands off The Big Ass Basket of Pommes Frites, which at $4 comes straddled with three dipping sauces. The entrees span the globe, from Guinness-Battered Fish n' Chips ($12) to Chipotle Roast Chicken paired with Herbed Yukon Gold Potatoes ($13). On random nights I've heard inventive DJs raising the roof. Which sucks because I live above it.

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