Fried and smothered pork chops with yams and collards at Busy Bee Cafe.(BECKY STEIN)
Photo: Becky Stein
Photo: Becky Stein

7 of Atlanta's oldest bars and restaurants

The best things stand the test of time. How many of these Atlanta restaurants and watering holes are older than you? 

This story originally appeared in the March/April 2016 edition of Living Intown Magazine. 

1. Atkins Park. The Virginia-Highland bar and restaurant claims to be Atlanta’s oldest continuously licensed tavern. Opened as a deli in 1922, it celebrated its 94th anniversary in February 2016. The late barman Warren Bruno took over in 1983 and created a neighborhood place where you can kick back with a pint and a bar snack or enjoy a meal in the dining room next door. 749 N. Highland Ave. 404-876-7249.

2. Busy Bee Cafe. Opened in 1947 by Lucy Jackson, a home cook who aspired to own her own restaurant, this southwest Atlanta meat-and-two mainstay is a civil rights and soul food institution. As the menu promises of the signature fried chicken, the skin is “a crisp golden brown” and the meat is “moist, juicy and beelicious.” 810 Martin Luther King Drive. 404-525-9212.

3. George’s Bar & Restaurant. In 1961, George Najour, a former baseball player and WWII vet, opened Virginia-Highland’s George’s Delicatessen, which featured a Middle Eastern grocery in the storefront and a bar with beer and sandwiches in back. In 1983, a renovated kitchen and revised menu, including the beloved George’s burger, ushered in a new era and a new name. 1041 N. Highland Ave. 404-892-3648.

4. The Majestic. Serving “Food That Pleases” since 1929, the Poncey-Highland neon landmark was once voted one of the top 10 U.S. diners by Playboy magazine. If the classic 24-hour greasy spoon conjures the image of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” it’s been gussied up in recent times. The late-night crowds that still down runny eggs and grits can also order a $12 Mexican omelette. 1031 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-875-0276.

5. Manuel’s Tavern. Closed until at least late April for renovations, the sprawling Poncey-Highland neighborhood spot has been a home away from home for generations of politicos, journalists and sports fans. In 1956, Manuel Maloof bought Harry’s Delicatessen and turned it into his eponymous bar. Maloof died in August 2004, but his son Brian Maloof carries on the family tradition. 602 N. Highland Ave. 404-525-3447.

6. Moe’s & Joe’s Tavern. In 1947, two brothers back from WWII, Moe and Joe Krinsky, turned the former Virginia-Highland Delicatessen into a drinking establishment. Moe’s & Joe’s memories often center around colorful Horace McKennie, who served pitches of Pabst for more than 50 years while wearing his trademark white shirt and red bow tie. Expanded in 2014, it’s still much the same tavern. 1033 N. Highland Ave. 404-873-6090.

7. The Varsity. “What’ll ya have?” is the constant cry at the Atlanta fast food icon that claims to be the world’s largest drive-in restaurant, located across the Connector from the Georgia Tech campus. The chili cheese dog, onion rings, Frosted Orange and fried pies have been feeding students, locals and tourists since 1928. Athens locations go back 74 years, and more recent outposts have opened from Gwinnett to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. 61 North Ave. 404-881-1706.

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