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Get your beer in gear

Charlie G's offers a good time without the attitude



Inside and out, Charlie G's lacks pretension. Located in the heart of Midtown along West Peachtree Street, it's amazing that it can remain that way. It's just a stone's throw from the forced hipness of Crescent Avenue, and across the street from the chi-chi Cherry crowd in the ground floor of a Marriott Residence Inn. The restaurant is operated by the same group that owns the Bucket Shop in Buckhead and North Highland Pub in Inman Park. It caters mainly to the same clientele: grown-up frat boys, a relaxed business crowd and anyone looking for a cold beer. There are just a few tables downstairs, plenty of seats along the bar and a brightly lit upstairs area that fills up just as quickly as the downstairs on the weekends. Everyone might not know, or remember your name, but it's certainly easy to feel comfortable no matter what you're wearing or drinking.

What we ate: The menu is the same as at the other two restaurants and includes a hearty selection of burgers ($5.95-$6.75) or substitute a chicken breast for a buck more ($6.95-$7.75), Buffalo wings, salads and Tex-Mex quickies. The chicken fingers ($6.25) are a bit bland and begin to taste like cardboard as they get cold, but the sauce kicks 'em up a notch when they're served as Buffalo fingers ($6.50). The same sauce is tossed with a fried chicken breast and served with melted bleu cheese crumbles ($6.95) on a bun. The spinach and artichoke dip ($5.95) is nothing fancy, but does contain plenty of hunks of artichoke hearts and isn't made with gobs of processed cheese. When we ordered the chicken Philly, the original steak Philly cheesesteak (both $6.50) arrived instead. It contains the requisite sauteed onions, mushrooms and melted cheese, but doesn't even come close to giving the fast-food cheesesteak joints a run for their money. Hamburgers are big hunks of beef smothered with your choice of cheese or other toppings.

Service: Though busy, crowds don't get too big here, so servers are able to make their rounds without getting distracted. If there's ever a lag between beers at your table, the bartenders are always amiable and quick to pour you a draft. Again, the lack of attitude is refreshing.

Cheapest item: A bowl of the daily soup is $3.25; get a bowl of black beans and rice, or a loaded baked potato for the same price.

Most expensive item: Ordering a N.Y. strip ($13.95) at a joint like this reminds me that Waffle House also offers a T-bone steak.

What to drink: For such a small restaurant and bar, there's plenty of drink choices. Eight beers are on tap, and bottled varieties bring the total to more than 70 choices from around the world.

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