In terms of sheer variety, Atlanta has long ruled the Southeast in gay nightlife. The scene has undergone a number of changes in recent years, though several long-running favorites (Blake's on the Park, Atlanta Eagle, and Heretic Atlanta) continue to pull in big crowds. In addition to great bars, you'll find plenty of cool, gay-friendly coffee houses and restaurant lounges around the region, several of them included in this list. Here's a look at some of the top gay bars in Atlanta, listed in alphabetical order.
If this attractive bar had a tagline, it might be "finally, a bar for the rest of us." Atlanta's gay club scene can feel a bit stand-and-model at times, or too finely pigeonholed by type. Amsterdam Cafe, refreshingly, is the kind of bar where just about anyone might feel welcome. It's mostly a guys' spot, but women often hang out here, and you'll see a nice mix of ages, styles, races, and so on. Part of the draw is the variety of diversions, including a nice section with pool tables—Amsterdam Cafe feels a bit like a laid-back sports bar during the week (especially after work), but it draws more of a crowd on weekends. There's also a casual restaurant serving sandwiches, wraps, and wings.
Some of the Eagle gay bars in the world have become fairly standard cruise bars over the years, but the Atlanta Eagle remains true to its roots—an authentic leather-and-Levi's bar, in a city that still has a loyal following for this sort of a hangout. This is pretty much ground-central for bears, cubs, leather daddies, and hard-core cruisers. This spot gets bonus points for having a very fun-loving staff.
Bacchanalia & Star Provisions were the anchors of a transformation that has turned West Midtown, a formerly downcast industrial area a couple of miles across I-75/I-85 from Midtown's gay scene, into a hotbed of edgy design shops, hipster bars, and trendy restaurants. In 2017, it moved into a custom-built facility that highlights natural light, and you'll find the long-running contemporary American restaurant Bacchanalia. Star Provisions is an upscale deli, gourmet food shop, and cafe serving delicious sandwiches and salads, plus a shop with fine kitchenwares, gourmet cheeses, and a first-rate butcher. Little Star, Floataway Cafe, W.H. Stiles Fish Shop, and Summerland Farms are other spots to check out.
BJ Roosters—Gay Bar
With its much-appreciated stable of hot go-go boys (the lap dances here are reputedly the best in town), this cruise-y, not-so-subtly named men's strip bar on Cheshire Bridge Road is a consistent hit with guys of all ages (although tending toward the 40-plus set many evenings). BJ Roosters moved into a larger and more attractive space in 2013, just down the street from its former location in a shopping mall (it's now a neighbor of another long-running bar in these parts: Heretic Atlanta). For fans of male Latino strippers, who make up a substantial percentage of the go-go staff, BJs is nirvana. If that's the sort of thing that gets your blood flowing, don't miss this place.
There was a time when Blake's on the Park, despite its attractive decor with exposed-brick walls and cheerful sun porch as well as its appealing location near Piedmont Park and several good restaurants, seemed a bit too stuck up for its own good. And true enough, it still draws an awfully pretty bunch of boys (and more than a few girls). But the attitude has softened a bit over the years, and once you fight your way past the occasional posse of plastics, you'll find some genuinely friendly barflies here (and very nice staff). There's no question that it's a highly popular place and a good bet for visitors trying to get a sense of the gay Atlanta scene.
For more than 30 years, this hugely popular gay club smack in the center of Midtown has been going strong as one of the largest and most successful African-American GLBT hangouts in the country. Always drawing good-sized crowds, especially on weekends, Bulldog's tends toward a fairly cruisy mix of guys in their 30s and 40s, though you'll see more than a few younger men, too, especially late on weekends. There are a few different spots to settle in with a drink and mingle or cruise, but in the warm weather, the large patio is the best place to congregate. Although the clientele is predominantly black, the staff and crowd couldn't be more welcoming of all kinds, whatever your race.
Situated beside the retro-fabulous (and surprisingly well-maintained) Cheshire Motor Inn on slightly seedy Cheshire Bridge Road, The Colonnade has been delighting fans of old-school Southern cooking since 1927 (there's a great picture of some of the restaurant's vintage menus on the website). As it's both an Atlanta institution and one of the nearest eateries to the several gay nightspots in this part of town, The Colonnade draws a truly diverse crowd, from little old ladies who lunch to boisterous drag queens to working joes to cruise-y dudes. Eating here provides a genuine (and delicious) glimpse into an earlier era in Atlanta— think salmon croquettes, chicken-fried steak, grilled calf's livers, fried or broiled oyster and shrimp platters, and gloriously rich desserts such as coconut icebox pie and hot fudge cake.
Ecco began earning acclaim right out the gate when Esquire magazine named it "best new restaurant" of the year in 2006. Part of the group of notable, gay-popular Atlanta eateries that includes South City Kitchen, La Tavola, El Taco, Alma Cocina, and Lure, this beautiful Midtown eatery typically packed with beautiful people has one of the best see-and-be-seen patios in the city—it's a great place for dinner or pre-dinner cocktails. Inside or out, you can dine on ethereal charcuterie and cheese plates, a wood-fired pizza topped with prosciutto and roasted garlic, or main dishes such as lamb shank with roasted cipollini and turnip greens, sea scallops with sunchoke veloute and crispy mushrooms, or Block Island swordfish with Brussels sprouts and a red wine jus. Prices are surprisingly reasonable for such an esteemed dining destination. You can also check out its other locations at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and in the Buckhead neighborhood.
A top brunch spot with gay folks since 1991, Einstein's occupies a cool old house in Midtown with a beautiful patio and a similarly handsome interior. The famed Einstein's brunch menu is available on weekends from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and features such favorite standbys as sesame-tuna salad, classic cinnamon French toast, fried green tomato Benedict, and tres carne quiche. A lemon-berry fusion (with lemon vodka and blueberries) makes a nice accompaniment, whether at brunch, lunch, or dinner.
A friendly, if quite tiny, gay neighborhood bar in the tres gay Ansley Square Shopping Center across from Piedmont Park in Atlanta's Midtown area, Felix's is a simple little gay hangout that's fun for early-evening drinks, hanging out with friends, chatting with the friendly staff, and fueling up on relatively affordable cocktails before heading out later to one of Atlanta's more popular, late-night gay clubs.
Plenty of well-crafted microbrews are served at 5 Seasons Brewing, a convivial and very popular brewpub in the city's trendy West Midtown district. The rooftop patio is a great place to while away an afternoon, sampling Victorian English Ale, Belgian Golden Strong Ale, and Electric Goat Maibock Lager, and the like. Count on reliably good comfort food from the kitchen, including spicy Asian chicken wings, chili-seared sea scallops, and grilled pizzas.
Sure, these days, Flying Biscuit Cafe is well-known among the hetero suburbanites of Atlanta and Charlotte, as this regional chain now has more than a dozen outposts around the metro Atlanta area, including Brookhaven, two in Buckhead, Evans, Johns Creek, Kennesaw, Midtown, two in Peachtree City, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Toco Hills. But the original and highly charming Candler Park location has long been a favorite with Atlanta's gay community, going back to when it opened in 1993, and the much newer Midtown location near 10th and Piedmont is still an LGBT mecca. These affordable, down-home eateries are best known for breakfast (served all day), with treats like eggs with chicken sausage and grits, and smoked-salmon scrambles standing out in particular. But throughout the day, you'll find all sort of other tasty dishes, including Coca-Cola BBQ-glazed salmon salad, vegan BBQ burritos, and turkey pot roast with green beans and mashed potatoes. Beer and wine are available, too.
A super-friendly neighborhood bar near the Atlanta Eagle on Ponce de Leon Avenue, Friends is a homey, zero-attitude roadhouse-style tavern with inexpensive drinks, pool tables, and a nice bunch of guys. It's perfect if you're looking for a relatively quiet, easygoing spot to hang out with friends, and also a good bet if you're new in town and looking for a friendly welcome.
First-rate Italian restaurants in a trendy section of Inman Park, both Fritti and neighboring Sotto Sotto earn marks for their stylish atmospheres and exceptionally good food. Fritti tends a bit more toward casual fare, including traditional antipasti, Neapolitan-style pizzas (the Bianca pie with buffalo mozzarella, emmenthal, fontina, ricotta, and smoked mozzarella is a winner), big salads, and affordable grills. Check into Sotto Sotto for a more refined and romantic meal, with heavenly pasta and more substantial entrées such as wood-roasted whole fish with roasted potatoes and garlic-spinach. Enjoy the terrific wine lists at both places, and go for a walk in the neighborhood before dinner—you'll find some great shopping in this area.
F.R.O.G.S. makes no particular pretenses about serving either authentic or fancy food, but if it's simple Tex-Mex and Southwestern chow you're after (fajitas, buffalo chicken tacos, and chorizo con queso), along with pitchers of margarita and cold beer, this festive and carefree place is a reliable option. It's also a longtime fixture in the Midtown gay scene, dating back to when Midtown Promenade had a couple of gay bars.
Near the intersection of 10th and Piedmont, a longtime Midtown hub of the GLBT community, G's Midtown is next to the famed gay bar Blake's on the Park as well as the sister restaurant, 10th & Piedmont. Not too far away is a third member of the Communitas Hospitality family, HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern, which is also worth checking out. This natty space was formerly Gilbert's, with the same owners reopening it with a new American gastropub menu. G's Midtown is filled most nights with the chatter of happy diners, enjoying such comfort food favorites as gumbo and smoked brisket sandwich for dinner, and country fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and blueberry pancakes for brunch. But it's also a popular bar option, either for lighter snacking or drinking.
As the name suggests, Heretic Atlanta has long stood out among gay Atlanta bars for its rebellious, downright scandalous attitude. It's a favorite destination for leather aficionados as it even has its own leather shop. As their event schedule allows they'll host country nights on Fridays and Saturdays and tend to book circuit party DJ's when possible for both nights. In recent years, especially with Atlanta having lost some gay country bars, it's become a favorite dance spot with the gay country set on Country Dance Night Thursdays, and all night some Saturdays. Wednesday night's Warp Zone and Boys' Night Out remains always intriguing.
You have to work a little to find this cozy gay neighborhood haunt tucked in the back of Midtown's Ansley Mall—just walk past Cook's Warehouse and you'll spy The Hideaway, which is a very friendly and relaxing spot with pool tables and other fun diversions. The Hideaway draws all walks of life, from young gay guys out for conversation before clubbing to more seasoned veterans of the Atlanta bar scene who used to visit this space when it was known as New Order.
Joe's East Atlanta Coffee Shop—Coffeehouse
A quirky and welcoming spot for java, light food, and conversation, Joe's East Atlanta Coffee Shop is in the heart of East Atlanta Village, just up the street from favorite gay bars such as Mary's and MSR My Sister's Room.
Like its sister neighbor bar-tavern Einstein's, Joe's on Juniper is one of those informal, casual restaurants that's as popular for drinking as dining, and is typically packed with gay patrons. It's part of Metrotainment Cafes, which also operates a number of other similarly laid-back hangouts such as Guaco Joe's, Hudson Grille, and Sugar Shack. Like the others, Joe's is more about the fun vibe and good drinks than the food, which is perfectly fine and very well-priced— try jalapeno poppers, chicken nachos, or an assortment of burgers or sandwiches. Drinks flow forth potently, brunch is a fun scene, and one of the city's best trivia games on Thursdays.
When area bars have closed, you'll be glad Majestic Diner is still serving its classic brand of greasy-spoon cooking, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Decked in neon signage, this art deco diner opened in 1929 and still specializes in classics such as corned beef hash, bagel and lox plates, chicken biscuits, chili dogs, tuna melts on rye, and so on—the menu here is nearly as long as a Tolstoy novel.
Dainty and delightful Mary Mac's Tea Room is yet another Atlanta classic that's been serving great food since long before the city developed a fervent gay scene—and has in recent years become a mainstay of that very community. Serving lunch and dinner daily, this go-to for filling and tasty Old South cooking has changed little since it opened in 1945. Count on the talented cooks here to keep turning out big bowls and plates of Brunswick stew, fried pork chops, chicken and dumplings, fried oysters, broccoli soufflé, Georgia peach cobbler, and Key lime pie with whipped cream. The cocktail list includes mint juleps, hurricanes, and whiskey lemonades, and other down-home favorites sure to get your party started.
One of the city's hippest and coolest neighborhoods, East Atlanta Village is home to this happily quirky cocktail bar. Mary's pulls in the city's most eclectic crowd—a mix of men and women, mostly gay but with plenty of supportive heteros. Creative theme nights (Tuesday's "Mary-oke" sing-alongs, Wednesday's indie pop for furry men Honey Pot, and Friday's trash-disco-inspired Boy's Room) feature some of the best get-your-hips-shakin' music in Atlanta. The crowd tends toward sexy in that be-yourself, dressed-down kinda way—Mary's doesn't have much use for snootiness. High-camp and drag are well-appreciated, however.
Midtown Moon—Gay Bar
Gay bars and businesses have come and gone over the years to Ansley Square Shopping Center, a homo-frequented strip mall a bit north of Piedmont Park, with Midtown Moon the next to find a spot in this area. The bi-level space is great for people-watching (you can spy on cuties on the main floor from a second-floor railing up above) and shooting pool. The on-site restaurant serves sandwiches, wings, shrimp, and filets.
There is no shortage of exceptional restaurants in Atlanta's hip West Midtown Design District, with Miller Union standing out in the crowd for its inviting space (high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a good-size patio) and consistently outstanding regional American food. It's worth sticking around for dessert—consider the sweet potato bread pudding with scotch ice cream. This sun-filled restaurant is especially lovely at lunch.
A great addition to the ever-popular Ansley Square Shopping Center, this stylish video lounge is made up of a few different sections including a dance floor and a popular outdoor smoking lounge on the patio. The crowd at Mixx Atlanta is quite eclectic and generally friendly, often drawing gay guys and some lesbians from the other hangouts in the same shopping center, including Midtown Moon, Oscar's Atlanta, and Felix's on the Square (and the famed LGBT book and video store, Brushstrokes). A variety of themed events are held in the upscale-loungelike Chill section of the club, including piano cabaret. Guest DJs on Saturdays are one of the favorite events in the Sizzle nightclub section. The kitchen serves tasty bar fare, too, from nachos to burgers to barbecue pulled-pork tacos, and the bar at Mixx is known especially for its extensive martini menu (some 30 varieties).
This popular lesbian hangout, which bills itself a "sports bar and grill," is now located in the heart of Midtown's LGBT nightlife and dining neighborhood, after having thrived for several years in hipster-frequented East Atlanta Village and before that in the town of Decatur. It continues to draw a loyal bunch for drinks and socializing. MSR My Sister's Room is basically an easygoing neighborhood bar. The clientele is predominantly female and quite diverse in terms of age and race. The kitchen serves tasty pub fare.
Steadily over the past decade or so, downtown Atlanta's Castleberry Hill neighborhood has developed into an interesting district of edgy contemporary art galleries and indie boutiques, with No Mas! Catina & Artisan Market—both a home-furnishings store and a terrific Mexican restaurant and bar—helping to lead the way. If you're up for a memorable urban adventure in a distinct neighborhood, or you're seeking beautiful handcrafted furniture and accessories from Mexico, stop by this spacious and elegantly decorated spot. The bar stocks more than 60 fine tequilas and pours terrific margaritas—be sure to test-drive the addictive queso dip along with salsa and chips. Everything is pretty tasty here.
Octane Coffee Bar & Lounge—Coffeehouse
You could make a pretty strong case that Octane Coffee, which sits in a high-ceilinged mod-industrial space in ultra-hip West Midtown, serves the finest coffee drinks in town—the seemingly always packed space is run by talented baristas who serve up first-rate Americanos, single-origin coffees, and even a few well-chosen beers and wines (along with great sandwiches, such as the salami and provolone with roasted red pepper plugra and arugula). The Grant Park branch is a great option if you're in that part of town, and it shares a space with the lovely Little Tart Bakeshop, carrying their wonderful French-inspired pastries. If you're a serious coffee aficionado, stop by and pick up a bag or two of the artisan-roasted beans for home. Other locations are in Buckhead, Homewood, Uptown, and the Woodruff Arts Center.
Sharing the same gay-popular shopping center as bars such as Midtown Moon, Mixx Atlanta, and Felix's on the Square, plus the famed GLBT book and erotica shop Brushstrokes, friendly Oscar's Atlanta has a strong happy-hour following and keeps the crowds coming back thanks to Tuesday show-tune nights, Jukebox Party Wednesdays, and good drink specials. This unpretentious video and martini bar has a fun vibe, and an attractive, art-filled interior.
The gay-popular, Midtown Atlanta branch of the noted national Japanese chain, RA Sushi Atlanta serves creative fare and colorful cocktails, making it a notable option for happy hour, sake sampling, and more.
Roxx Tavern—Restaurant/Mixed Bar
A gay fave for drinking and dining, casual Roxx Tavern serves food late into the night and is a good place for mingling with friends or dining before or after hitting the several gay bars in upper Midtown's Cheshire Bridge Road neighborhood. The kitchen turns out fair-priced salads, sandwiches, burgers, and grills, and there's a nice brunch on Sundays.
Devoutly weird Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium sits right in the heart of the historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, just east of the interstate from downtown and close to Sweet Auburn, Cabbagetown, and Inman Park. Unquestionably the domain of adoring hipsters (as is Sound Table, across the street), Sister Louisa's is also one "church" that loves its gays—just be warned that you not of the skinny-jeans-attired may be in the minority). The irreverently kitschy artwork (from a "Fart Face" mural to all manner of often very funny "religious" art—"Crack Moms for Christ") is for sale—this is a gallery, too. And the interior contains an actual church organ, where an actual organist plays. There are all sorts of fun activities going on in here, especially during the wickedly infamous Monday night ping-pong tourneys. Come with an open mind—Jesus would. There's a second, newer outpost of Sister Louisa's in the hip college town of Athens, Georgia.
The Sound Table draws fans of great tunes (tending toward trance and electronica, but the beat can vary a lot depending on the DJ), well-conceived cocktails, and quite good small-plates dining (including shrimp chorizo tacos and oxtail and grits). In the historic Old Fourth Ward, the club is open Wednesday through Sunday and attracts a good mix of patrons, from hipsters to music buffs to a handful of LGBT folks.
A legendary men's strip club, Swinging Richards has become acclaimed for its huge stable of humpy, hunky dancers and the fact that the boys here remove *all* of their clothes. There's pretty much a guy for every taste in this place, and it's a particularly fun adventure for a group of friends looking to celebrate, cut loose, and gawk at some lovely bodies. On the other hand, the prices are steep for drinks and admission, and the club has a slightly cheesy Chippendale's-esque mood about it, almost like it's a theme park for a male striptease.
Good old Outwrite Books is missed, although Atlanta still has a great source of gay lit and gifts (Brushstrokes), and you'll find a sleek and very fun restaurant/bar, 10th and Piedmont, occupying the former gay bookstore's corner space in Midtown, right next to Blake's on the Park gay club. This trendy spot that specializes in small-plates dining is owned by the same folks behind neighboring G's Midtown. It's quickly become popular for weekend brunch and weekday lunches; at night, dishes like almond-crusted mahi mahi, steamed king crab legs, and USDA New York strip are perfect for nibbling.
Two Urban Licks is famous enough that most Atlanta-bound food lovers will probably read or hear about it elsewhere, but given its cool vibe, astoundingly great food, and attractive setting in Poncey-Highland near Midtown (and the gay-trendy Virginia-Highland and Inman Park neighborhoods), it deserves inclusion on any gay eats-and-drinks list. It's a top contender for best date locale in the city, and it does book up quickly, so reserve ahead if possible. What's all the fuss? Michael Bertozzi's beautiful plated modern American food, a state-of-the-art "wine barrel" program, fine-crafted cocktails, live blues music most nights, and a patio that affords stunning views of the city skyline. It's part of the estimable Concentrics Restaurants group, which includes the convivial Tap Gastropub at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, PARISH: The Brasserie and Neighborhood Cafe in Inman Park.
Vortex, which has locales in quirky Little Five Points and gaygarious Midtown, serves what some consider to be the finest char-grilled meat patties in the city—lovely is the Rebel Outlaw, smothered with pulled pork, cheddar, bacon, and the special "outlaw" sauce, which adds a nice kick to this concoction. Vortex also serves insanely proportioned "Bypass" burgers (as in the coronary kind), but these are a bit of a novelty gimmick. The regular burgers are plenty filling enough. The sides of plantains are a nice alternative if you're not so much for fries, and fried-chicken salad, Cubano sandwiches, and chili round out the menu. But wait, there's more—both of these LGBT-frequented locations serve an impressive roster of adult beverages: a good list of draft beers (and beer cocktails), and a gargantuan list of bottled beers, plus a full bar. There's much to love, but you may not want to love this place too many nights a week (or month).
Having moved from its original location in downtown Decatur, Watershed on Peachtree has brought the splendid, contemporary Southern cooking of chef Matt Marcus to the Ardmore section of Atlanta, just north of Midtown and close to Buckhead. A big reason Watershed has considerable popularity with LGBT foodies is the restaurant's former co-owner: out Indigo Girls singer Emily Sailers. The restaurant is airy and even a bit spare, a comfortable place to dine with friends and sample some of the best brunch, lunch, and dinner fare in town.
Atlanta's only true gay sports bar (Amsterdam Cafe has a bit of the vibe but is more broadly a video bar), Woofs is decked with sports memorabilia, has pro and college games airing on more than 30 TVs, and attracts players from local GLBT sports teams. For ardent sports buffs, this place is pretty impressive—not just a gay hangout with a sports theme but a venue where you really can watch any number of games and events alongside a similarly enthusiastic bunch of fans.