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Trackside Tavern 

Genre: Drinking bar

The Scene: Lots of renovation and rehab projects tout their exposed brick and ductwork as industrial design aspects. New construction plans demand sexy vent-and-pipe styling. Then there are those places where the building's guts are visible because the proprietors just don't really give a damn about such fripperies as interior finishes -- for instance, the Trackside Tavern.

People come here to Trackside to schmooze and booze with their friends, not to critique the decor, so bare ceiling insulation and unadorned air conditioning unit be damned. Ergonomics are not forsaken, though: A fine wraparound wood bar allows the bartenders easy access to crowds in two rooms.

Wallet Impact: Approximately 20 beers on draught range from $3 pints of Miller Lite and Budweiser to $4.50 for Guinness. The 20 bottled beers range from $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon to $5.50 for Newcastle Brown Ale. Most are $3.50. Liquor prices range from $4.50 for well to $7.50 for premium.

Clientele: Located near Agnes Scott College, at the intersection of College Avenue and Trinity, Trackside's patrons are a comfortable mix of alternative lifestyle types, students, blue-collar townies and middle-aged guys. If you're looking for a slightly grungy, "come as you are" kind of place, this is it. The laid-back bartenders seem to sense when a patron needs attention, or maybe they just want some idle chat about sports. "Hang out as long as you like," their manner suggests.

Accessories: There is plenty of entertainment for between/during drinks: pool tables, foosball, darts, pinball and even air hockey. The jukebox heavily emphasizes good old-fashioned rawk -- how often do you see The Best of Motorhead, eh? Promotions include a small dart league on Mondays, team trivia Tuesdays and karaoke on Thursdays.

Munchies: The tavern offers a more interesting than usual selection of snacks and sandwiches. Starters include french fries, sweet potato fries, chili cheese fries, bacon cheese fries, and various other battered and deep-fried vegetables. For a fuller appetite, several burgers and hot dog options are offered alongside some relatively healthy sandwiches including salmon, turkey and grilled chicken.

Remember the Stein Club?: Later in the evening, the place draws a lot of restaurant and bar employees, as its 4 a.m. closing time is considerably later than most places in both Decatur and Atlanta. This is especially true on Sundays, reports bartender Chris Johnson. He draws a comparison with the Stein Club, a defunct Midtown watering hole and true institution among Atlanta bars. "We try to be like the Stein Club used to be. Our Sundays are like their Mondays were."

Trackside Tavern. Mon.-Fri. 3 p.m.-4 a.m.; Sat. 1 p.m.-3 a.m.; Sun. 1 p.m.-4 a.m. 313 E. College Ave., Decatur. 404-378-0504.

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09/11/2014

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