This may be the toughest call to make. As the experienced barfly will attest, one's selection of "best" neighborhood bar relies upon a number of variables. In addition to the customary considerations — friendly service, well-mixed cocktails, cold beer — there are issues of atmosphere to be considered. To expand on the old "Cheers" theme lauding an elbow-bending emporium "where everybody knows your name," it also needs to be a place where you want everybody to know your name.
After careful consideration, here are a few that we think definitely meet those criteria.
In the Poncey-Highland/Va-Hi area, tipplers have long favored a handful of stalwarts. There's the venerable Atkins Park (794 N. Highland, 404-876-7249), with 78 years of history behind its ornate wooden bar. There's Manuel's Tavern (602 N. Highland, 404-525-3447), where politicians, cops, journalists and assorted characters rub elbows. And, for the alternative set, there's The Highlander (931 Monroe Drive, 404-872-0060), with its lengthy menu and always-colorful clientele.
In Little Five Points, the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club (1136 Euclid Ave., 404-688-2582) reigns supreme, with friendly bikers, hippies, head-bangers and multi-pierced goths sampling the suds.
In Buckhead, regulars flock to Mike N' Angelo's (312 E. Paces Ferry Road, 404-237-0949), the long-lived, laid-back refuge for those fleeing the meat-market outside.
In south Atlanta, Spondivits (1219 Virginia Ave., East Point, 404-767-1569) still lures the masses with enormous tubs of frosty beer, ass-kicking drinks and fresh seafood, while the East Atlanta crowd leans toward the funky storefront ambience of The Earl (488 Flat Shoals Ave., 404-522-3950).
It's an embarrassment of riches — what can we say?