Nothing like drinking in a wooden hallway.
There is something to be said for a shotgun dive bar, cramped quarters making for better drinking company especially when there’s an element of heat that comes with a bunch of people in a small area. Five Paces Inn has exactly that mixture perfected, an Atlanta dive bar that stretches the length of a block that includes a handful of restaurants, hipster bars and probably a poke bowl or two. But where the neighborhood might lack, Five Paces Inn steps up with its slender layout ringed with icicle lights.
Beyond the crowd and the shape of the space, the authentic, bare elements of a great dive bar exist here. One side of the bar includes a short set of built-in wooden booths, always a good sign, with wood well-faded. As with almost every built-in wooden booth in a dive bar, the proportions are a bit cramped, but that only adds to the mystique. The booths quickly give way to a long drink shelf that runs under a set of faded beer signs and a portal to the adjacent space sometimes used for overflow events.
A scratched up and engraved bar runs the opposite wall of the space before landing on the bar’s beer fridge. These are the best seats in the house of course due in large part to the decorations that line the area behind the bar, ranging from a bust of Captain Morgan to a set of dive bar-standard trophies. Here and throughout the space, the beer signs are the right amount of faded, the newer stuff mixed in with some obviously vintage pieces that add to the dive bar credibility of the Atlanta dive bar.
There are a few signals of upkeep and update within Five Paces Inn, some of the surfaces replaced and upgraded. This is always a double-edged sword for a dive bar, the dusty old making way for the less decrepit new, but the bones here are intact. Out back, an extended porch runs into the parking lot behind the building, a horseshoe outside bar available during busy times that features some additional picnic style seating and a Budweiser-themed mural down a set of short steps. The white picket fence attached to the mural that rings the outdoor space provides a nice shot of visual appeal as well.
Because of parking available in back, it would be easy to miss the front door, one that sits under perhaps the best aspect of Five Paces Inn, its sign. Black bold lettering on an orange background that looks to be wood mounted on wood mounted on brick certainly sings the siren song of a great dive bar sign. Six separate neon signs cram into three windows beneath, completing the ensemble. The wood that rings the outdoor window includes a makeshift shutter, altogether creating a dive bar aura for a space with neighbors that are anything but.
Five Paces Inn may not be the roughest Atlanta dive bar in the most remote neighborhood in the city, but this Buckhead staple does bring with it the pleasantly-crammed confines of a shotgun dive bar in an area of the city that needs one. This isn’t a dollar-bills-on-the-ceiling dive, but it does provide just the right variety of signage and visual oddity throughout, including a set of plaques I haven’t even mentioned yet that bump up against an Aerosmith pinball machine in back. As Buckhead goes, Five Paces Inn is the dive bar standard for the area, an inviting wooden hallway of a dive.