With the Super Bowl season rapidly approaching, Atlanta revelers will soon be seeking out popular watering holes to celebrate (or drown their sorrows). Atlanta is home to literally hundreds of sports bars which cater to any number of crowds. But there are a few sports bars which stand out as special for one reason or another.
PONCE DE LEON AVENUE/ ATLANTA
Don’t be afraid to get a little rowdy in this particular watering hole. Dugan’s café and sports bar located on Ponce De Leon Avenue in Atlanta is the prime location for a bit of friendly carousing. This bar is fairly no-frills, and caters to a predominantly urban crowd. There is a very large bar situated toward the front of the bar, with several television screens tuned to various sports channels. The bar is nothing fancy. But drinks poured by the bevy of bartenders are sure to pack a punch.
Scattered throughout the café, are several simple wooden tables and chairs. The general dining area is capable of seating dozens of patrons. On any given weekend, virtually every seat is filled. The wait staff can at times be a bit lackadaisical. But the atmosphere is always so filled with bustling activity, that it more than makes up for any lack of extra “hospitality.” As for fare, expect your typical menu of hot wings, and chicken fingers, along with a small selection of burgers and sandwiches. The food is always hot and tasty, and goes great with the massive amount of alcoholic beverage options.
Covered outdoor seating is available for those who like to street gaze and people watch. As a matter of fact, the outdoor patio is actually almost as large as the indoor dining area. Atlanta’s rambunctious partiers are known to stop in for a pre-bash drink or snack-as there are several nightclubs and evening venues nearby. While Dugan’s “no frills” atmosphere may not appeal to some, it is this very air that attracts those looking for an extremely casual way to entertain themselves.
PEACHTREE ROAD / BUCKHEAD- ATLANTA
Perhaps the ultimate extreme of down home “no frills” fun is at Atlanta’s ESPN Zone. Located smack in the middle of Buckhead’s party district, ESPN Zone is practically considered the amusement park of sports bars. With at least (7) U.S. locations, this sports bar is branded for its plethora of activities, and exceedingly comfortable accommodations. Getting into ESPN Zone during particularly popular game seasons can be a bit of a challenge, especially for larger groups of people. Groups of ten or more would do well to make advance reservations for MVP seating. The main room of the venue features a huge wide screen for viewing close-up plays. This room, in addition to providing an attractive bar, also possesses an enviable area with stadium seating in front of the wide screen. Again, this area fills up quickly, and on most occasions, reservations must be made.
In addition to being the ultimate location for viewing games, Atlanta’s ESPN Zone is known for catering to large groups of people. And while most people tend to visit this venue during the early and late evenings, ESPN Zone is actually a great place to have lunch during typical business hours. Their lunch menu features standard items like sandwiches or salads for lower prices than their evening menu. ESPN Zone also sponsors an MVP club for those who enjoy the venue on a more consistent basis. The MVP club benefits include priority seating, a game card for use in the Sports Arena, a trial offer of ESPN magazine, and much more. While most sports bars are named so because of their proclivity to showing sports year round, ESPN Zone is definitely for die hard sports fans.
THE BUCKET SHOP CAFÉ
LENOX ROAD/ BUCKHEAD – ATLANTA
A happy medium between the lackadaisical sports fan, and the die-hard sports fan lies in a comfortable sports bar/ café named The Bucket Shop. Located directly across from Atlanta’s trendy Lenox Mall, this easy going restaurant is also fairly easy to miss. Many people traveling up and down Lenox Road often pass the sports bar, even though its outdoor seating area is facing the busy street. This is because the actual entrance is situated on the interior of the office building in which it is housed. You must turn into the parking deck, off of Lenox Road, and drive up to the 4th floor of the parking deck in order to enter the restaurant.
Once inside, you’ll be greeted with a “Cheers”-like (NBC TV sitcom) atmosphere, with a large wooden bar centrally located in the restaurant . Surrounding the bar are several television screens showing any number of sporting events. The bar is lined with a couple of booths, and a few high tables and chairs. Towards the rear of the bar is a separate dining area for “spillover” patrons who prefer a more intimate and comfortable dining environment.
The fare at The Bucket Shop is pretty standard. There are several American style dinner options, along with a long list of appetizers, sandwiches, and salads. The food is satisfying but not particularly exotic in any way. The main attraction to one of Atlanta’s most hidden sports bars, is in its tremendously comfortable vibe. The wait staff is very accommodating and attentive without being overly annoying. It’s a great place to simply have a drink. And because it’s centrally located in Buckhead’s buzzing business district, many business persons patronize the restaurant during lunch hours as well as on the weekends.
Whether you seek a high energy sporting environment, or a laid back presentation of sports, Atlanta has a venue for every discerning patron. Dining options are widely varied. But the characteristic groupings of people over pitchers of beer seems to be a standard fixture in every single venue that Atlanta has to offer.