7 of Atlanta’s oldest bars and restaurants

The Varsity. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Steve Schaefer

These 7 bars and restaurants are mainstays for a reason. They’ve stood the test of time serving up cold drinks and delicious food with a smile.

Atkins Park

Walk into this Virginia-Highland restaurant and bar and you’ll be immediately struck by its history, evident in the solidness of the dark-stained wood bar and tin tile ceiling. Sandra Spoon, wife of the original owner, Warren Bruno, now owns Atlanta’s oldest continuously licensed tavern along with friend Kevin Drawe.

Atkins Park continues to be well-versed in all things boozy. But don’t let that keep you from the menu items available in the dining room next door, which include elevated bar food favorites like the Atkins Park Confit Wings slow fried in duck fat and tossed in your choice of a sweet chili garlic sauce or Atkins Park wing sauce.

Location: East Atlanta - 749 N. Highland Ave. NE; Website: atkinspark.com; Contact: 404-876-7249

Busy Bee Cafe

Tracy Gates has been running The Busy Bee Café for 35 years, although the original restaurant opened way back in 1947 with Lucy Jackson at the helm. Jackson was a home cook who knew her way around the kitchen. With her signature fried chicken, she came to be known for filling the hearts and bellies of both the civil rights and soul food institutions.

Today, Gates keeps the place humming with traditions of years’ past. The meat-and-two is still a menu feature, along with favorites such as the baked chicken with cornbread dressing and carrot souffle.

Location: Northwest Atlanta - 810 Martin Luther King Drive, SW; Website: thebusybeecafe.com; Contact: 404-525-9212

George’s Bar and Restaurant

They say it all started back in 1948 when George Najour, a former baseball player and WWII veteran, moved to Atlanta from Jekyl Island and opened George’s Glass Bar. By 1961, Najour had moved on to open his own delicatessen, which sold groceries in the front and sandwiches and beer out the back.

Lucky for you, you can taste the famous burger Najour cooked up in 1983 when he remodeled and installed a kitchen. Today, Najour’s son, G.G. Najour and grandson, George, are still cooking up the original “Burger Burger” with a side of tots. It’s a tasty, classic burger that speaks to the storied past of its founder.

Location: East Atlanta - 1041 N. Highland Ave, NE; Website: georgesbarandrestaurant.com; Contact: 404-892-3648

Majestic Diner

Just up the road from Ponce City Market, this dinner has been serving up “Food That Pleases” since 1929. The iconic neon landmark serves up solid breakfast fare from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Loyal customers have been coming back for years for the Majestic’s omelets and mouthwatering waffles. You won’t leave this classic American diner hungry; the portions are generous and sure to please.

Location: East Atlanta - 1031 Ponce de Leon Ave; Website: majesticdiner.com; Contact: 404-875-0276

Manuel’s Tavern

This list of accolades for this Atlanta favorite is long and impressive, and above all deserved. Manuel’s Tavern doesn’t take their “best bar” status lightly. It stems from an impressive history that reaches back to 1956 when Manuel Maloof turned an old deli into a bar reminiscent of the English bars he frequented when stationed there during World War II.

Today, the Maloof family stills runs the joint, serving up drinks on tap, including IPA’s, ale, Belgian beers, and smooth dark lagers. Come thirsty. The Maloof family still prioritizes community above all else. You’re sure to leave this iconic tavern sated and filled with a greater sense of belonging.

Location: East Atlanta - 602 N. Highland Ave; Website: manuelstavern.com; Contact: 404-525-3447

Moe’s and Joe’s Tavern

This classic neighborhood bar is still what the brothers Moe and Joe Krinsky wanted it to be in its 1947 beginnings. The two brothers were recently back from WWII when they turned the former Virginia-Highland Delicatessen into a drinking establishment (notice a theme here with the deli to bar re-birth?).

Owners Tracy Crowley and Scott Drake expanded the tavern in 2014, being careful to preserve the Krinsky history that mattered most. You can be sure your visit to this tavern will yield cold drinks in a divey, friendly atmosphere.

Location: East Atlanta - 1033 N. Highland Ave; Website: facebook.com/moesnjoes; Contact: 404-873-6090

The Varsity

At The Varsity, you better come ready to answer the iconic question “What’ll ya have?” This classic Atlanta fast food icon still takes order for chili cheese dogs, onion rings, and Frosted Oranges car-side, although if you must, their indoor seating is generous and comfortable.

Owners Gordon Muir and Carrie Browne, the grandchildren of founder Frank Gordy, grew up with chili cheese dogs in their veins. The original Varsity location sits across the Connector from the Georgia Tech campus where they’ve been feeding students, locals, tourists, and stars since 1928.

Location: Midtown - 61 North Ave; Website: thevarsity.com; Contact: 404-881-1706

Next:20 best things to do in Atlanta: Our ultimate bucket list
Guests are coming to town, and they want to be acquainted with all …