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7. Feel the blues at Blind Willie’s

Atlanta’s venerable blues joint is named for one legend (Blind Willie McTell) and is the best place to see another: Francine Reed, whose soulful voice, feisty wisecracks, and dance-inducing songs mesh perfectly with the intimate dive bar’s New Orleans–inspired atmosphere.

Paper Plane to fly in November, new bar from Victory and Paul Calvert

Cocktail guru Paul Calvert is a man on the move. He was recently named Beverage Director at Victory Sandwich Bar—the Inman Park location as well as the forthcoming Victory in Decatur. Calvert made waves with the Sound Table’s bar program and went on to spice things up at Pura Vida.

The Morning After

I find it ironic that two of my best friends each own popular Atlanta bars within aerobic stumbling distance of my front door. Years ago I would have foamed at the mouth to be in a position that allows me to freeload booze with such abandon.

Finding Solace at Restaurants’ Chummy Bars

In his book The Hidden Dimension, anthropologist Edward T. Hall defined the concept of proxemics—the cultural relevance of the spatial distances that individuals maintain. It helped me understand what felt so alienating about the United States when I moved here from Europe: I have a different sense of personal space. If I sit next to you on a sofa, I am practically in your lap. The rectangular two-tops in restaurants that put me at arm’s length from the person I’m dining with feel excruciating. I much prefer to eat at the bar, which fulfills my need for intimacy.

Discovery: Sister Louisa’s Church

By his own admission, Grant Henry had to dumb down the decor of his provocative new dive bar on Edgewood Avenue. From the street, Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping-Pong Emporium (Church, for short) looks enough like the real thing that people regularly walk in expecting to find a storefront religious sanctum. After they take in the big, tacky flower cross and the velvet Jesus behind the liquor bottles, they beat a hasty retreat.

The Bookhouse Pub’s Julia LeRoy

What is a nice, delicate-looking girl like Julia LeRoy doing searing pork chops in a kitchen that often reaches 95 degrees? If you met her out of context, you’d be more likely to guess “writes poetry in the shade” than “heads kitchen in a busy gourmet pub.”

L5P’s The Porter

There are more than ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall behind the bar at The Porter (I counted). There are tap handles by the dozen. The bar could overwhelm even the most dedicated beer drinker with the depth and breadth of its inventory. But instead of just playing a numbers game, the young owners display a curatorial finesse. Better yet, without gloating about running a “gastropub,” they serve pretty remarkable casual food to go along with the lagers, pilsners, Belgian whites, and, of course, their favorite porters.

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