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Viva la Dive Bar!

In celebration of the comfortable squalor and cheap-ass booze of Atlanta's dive-iest bars



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MODEST SURROUNDINGS: The menu at Pryor Tavern in Mechanicsville offers pig's ear on toast. - DUSTIN CHAMBERS
  • Dustin Chambers
  • MODEST SURROUNDINGS: The menu at Pryor Tavern in Mechanicsville offers pig's ear on toast.

Pryor Tavern
726 Pryor St. 404-581-1994.For most of its 40-plus years in business, this place was known as Grace's Tavern. But Grace passed a couple months back and the establishment changed hands. If a renovation has occurred, it's undetectable.

Located across the highway from Turner Field on the edge of Mechanicsville, Pryor Tavern is well-fortified, with a heavy security door and its large picture windows covered by burglar bars. No word on whether it offers seating in the panic room.

If ambiance is your thing, keep driving. Pryor Tavern is basically a short-order grill that somehow got its hands on a liquor license. The single room contains maybe eight booths, a jukebox and the counter. The menu includes such standards as fried whiting, wings and pig's ear on toast. Nom, indeed.

The bar, if it can be called such, consists of canned beer and a handful of economy-sized liquor bottles grouped on the counter. Asked what kind of drinks they offer, the cook pauses a second, then says, "We can give you a shot."

The tavern lets its hair down Thursday nights, when it hosts karaoke. But don't look for a stage. Aspiring American Idols can either sing from their seats or stand in the middle of the floor.

On one visit, a Corvette, a shiny new Hummer and a Ferrari F430 with a glass hood over its rear-mounted engine sit in the asphalt parking lot. Yet there's no one inside who looks like a professional athlete or a hedge fund manager. Perhaps there's more to this tavern than meets the eye.

Red's Timbers
730 Concord Road, Smyrna. 770-434-2432.

You gotta love the positive attitude of any bar that still has a condom machine in the men's room.

First opened in the late '60s, Timbers claims to be the oldest bar in Smyrna. Its exterior is all old-school retro, with natural wood siding and jigsaw-cut lettering across the front — next to the window-unit A/C.

Several years ago, a then-new owner planned all sorts of renovations and improvements but, thankfully, none of those changes seem to have taken place. The interior still consists of a horseshoe-shaped bar, several tables and a low stage, though there's now the seemingly obligatory bank of video gaming machines against one wall.

The new management is trying to liven things up by hosting karaoke, Texas Hold-'em tournaments and a Tuesday "bike night," as well as bringing in live metal bands on the weekends. But let's face it: The real reason people come to a dive like Timbers instead of a more upscale joint is to drink a cheap beer in a laid-back atmosphere where they can relax, smoke a few cigarettes and strike up a conversation about local high school football or reality TV shows. Some things don't change.

Next: Other dive-y must-do's

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