Good | Worth a Return
Review by: Roadfood Team
Come to Manuel’s Tavern, a friendly Atlanta bar for big burgers and some of the best Brunswick stew in the South.
“Anybody don’t like this life is crazy.” That was the motto of Manuel Maloof, an Atlanta-area politician and owner of Manuel’s Tavern, a landmark in the Ponce de Leon area of east Atlanta and possibly the city’s oldest bar. The watering hole and eatery has long served as a gathering place for white-collar professionals, journalists, public service workers, and the like, due to its traditional, dark-paneled interior, plenteous beer, and all-around good vibes.
The management makes sure patrons know that this is not a “fern bar” faux, chain nightclub that has roots no deeper than the 1980s. This is the real deal: there have been few if any changes in the appearance, although the menu and beer selection have both certainly expanded over time.
What to eat at Manuel’s Tavern
Manuel’s calling card is probably their burgers. Its standard is the “McCloskey,” with a half pound of beef and fixings. Variations on the theme include rye bread, grilled onions and Swiss, and a black bean veggie burger. The sandwiches run the gamut from the classic BLT to portobello mushrooms to pork chops to crab cakes. More substantial fare includes ribeye, prime rib, barbecue ribs, jerk chicken, tuna steak, and (yes) meatloaf. Bar food munchies are available as well, of course.
Teetotalers (which describes me most of the time) should be ashamed if they miss out on the brews. I chose to sip on the house ale, named “602 North Highland,” for the establishment’s address. If I were a regular beer drinker, I would make a special trip; I found it very light and refreshing.
The decor is not only eclectic, but quite original in spots. Hanging on the centerpiece mantle over the bar is a portrait of John F. Kennedy, as well as pennants of Atlanta’s major league sports team and those of nearby colleges. Bumper stickers from political campaigns past and present adorn an entire wall. The place even has pinball machines!
One gets the sense that the Manuel’s has seen its ups and downs, but is presently on the upswing, as newer in-town residents discover it, alongside a group of old-line regulars. This is no “Cheers.” It’s a whale of a lot better and truly authentic.
Original post by Mike Stroud
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