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Where to go to plunge into Atlanta’s dive bar culture

Atlanta is home to a variety of eclectic dive bars, and each comes with its own personality, distinct entertainment options and neighborhood feel.

While many of the city’s watering holes seek to create a community “where everybody knows your name” reminiscent of the 1980s television sitcom “Cheers,” we’ve compiled a list of places that offer a unique Atlanta flavor so you can stop referencing Jermaine Dupri’s “Welcome to Atlanta” when you need an idea for something cool to do in the Big Peach.

Joystick Gamebar

Joystick Gamebar off Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward is a self-described “nerdy dive bar” that has a wide offering of vintage arcade games and retro pinball machines proving video games aren’t just for kids anymore. If you demand live music at your bar, they have that, too, when Joystick hosts “Rock Band” video game contests.

427 Edgewood Ave SE., Atlanta. 404-525-3002, joystickgamebar.com.

Co-owner Lindsay Wine stands in front of Darwin’s Burgers and Blues in Sandy Springs. Darwin’s is becoming popular among locals with events like gospel-themed lunch, painting classes and live bands. CONTRIBUTED BY DARWIN’S BURGERS AND BLUES (For the AJC)

Darwin’s

Darwin’s Burgers and Blues in Sandy Springs may be one of the city’s best-kept secrets with events like gospel-themed lunch, painting classes and live bands. If you’re in the northern part of the city but want to experience a proper neighborhood dive bar feel, Darwin’s is a safe bet.

234 Hilderbrand Drive, Sandy Springs. 470-399-5060, darwinsburgers.com. 

10 High Club

The 10 High Club at Dark Horse Tavern in Virginia-Highland isn’t much of a secret anymore due to the popularity of Metalsome Live Band Karaoke, which allows its patrons to front a real band on select nights. You may want to get there when doors open at 9 p.m., because it frequently hits capacity.

816 C N. Highland Ave, NE, Atlanta. 404-873-3607, darkhorseatlanta.com.

Kat’s Cafe

Kat’s Cafe in Midtown is a nightclub known for its martinis that features a wide variety of entertainment options, including stand-up comedy, open mic nights, spoken word poetry and live music. Some of its events are ticketed, so make sure you check the website for details.

970 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. 404-347-2263, katscafeatlanta.com.

Owner Grant Henry participates in a pingpong tournament at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. At times, the dive bar has been the hangout of celebrities including Lady Gaga, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM 2014 (For the AJC)

Sister Louisa’s

Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium, known by the regulars as “Church,” probably takes the cake for Atlanta’s weirdest dive bar with organ karaoke, pingpong tournaments and tarot card readings. If you’re not afraid of its sacrilegious decor and want something very, very different, Sister Louisa’s is the place to go in the Old Fourth Ward.

466 Edgewood Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-522-8275, sisterlouisaschurch.com.

>> RELATED: Read the AJC’s 2014 Personal Journey about the owner of Sister Louisa’s

Elliott Street Deli & Pub

The Elliott Street Deli & Pub in Castleberry Hill is an absolute “must do” for those looking for something walking distance from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Plus, it’s home of the “Kevin Scott Tuesday Night Jam” if you want to check out some of the city’s notable avant-garde culture.

51 Elliott St. SW, Atlanta. 404-523-2174, elliottstreet.com.

Northside Tavern

The Northside Tavern in Atlanta’s Westside has become a staple since opening in 1972 and is popular among music lovers, pool players and Atlanta natives. There’s no cover during the week, but it usually has a $10 cover during the weekends, so bring some cash on Friday and Saturday nights.

1058 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta. 404-874-8745, northsidetavern.com.

IN RELATED NEWS:

These days Georgia is full of companies changing the game with their beer. 1. New Realm Brewing, a hybrid brewery-restaurant concept with a great view. 2. Scofflaw Brewing, known for its Basement IPA. 3. Creature Comforts, housed in a 40,000-square-foot building in Athens. 4. Monday Night Brewing, whose Han Brolo pale ale topped a blind taste test. 5. SweetWater Brewing, which has spent 21 years creating great beer. 6. Athens' Terrapin Beer Co., which was bought by MillerCoors in 2016.

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