Everyone knows that there is no shortage of inventive and interesting restaurants in Atlanta. However, when you’re heading downtown for the big game, sometimes you just want a great beer and a solid burger. We’ve selected a few spots that deliver reliable pre-game fare for those nights when you’re not in the mood to tailgate. Did your favorite restaurant make the list?

The Varsity Downtown
61 North Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 881-1706

An Atlanta mainstay since 1928, The Varsity is the classic spot to go before a game downtown. Whether you are craving a Frosted Orange or a good, old-fashioned greasy burger, The Varsity will satisfy your pre-game cravings. There are several other locations around town these days, but the one downtown is known as the world’s largest drive-in for its party atmosphere before games. If you only make one burger stop in Atlanta, it will probably be here.

CNN Center
1 CNN Center
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 827-2491

CNN is one of Atlanta’s greatest local businesses, and the large center downtown has a food court where locals in the know tend to flock before a game. There are a variety of dining options, but the beer varieties are the real star. For an inexpensive and generous brew before the big game, this spot can’t be beat. Dantana’s is an upscale sports bar that is sure to start your night off on the right note, and McCormick & Schmick’s is a great steakhouse.

Taco Mac
1 Georgia Dome Drive
Atlanta, GA 30313
(404) 223-4636

With a location inside the Georgia Dome, Taco Mac is ready to feed your hunger before and during the Falcons games. One of Atlanta’s favorite sports bars, this spot is known for its variety of beers. Taco Mac has all the standard game fare – burgers, chicken sandwiches and, of course, tacos. If you’re not a beer drinker (or you have the kids with you), Taco Mac also features the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, where you can mix several different flavors from the Atlanta beverage company’s most popular brands to create your own ultimate soda.

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Marlow’s Tavern
950 W. Peachtree St. N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 815-0323

Marlow’s Tavern is a great spot for dinner if you are heading to a GA Tech basketball game. The seafood nachos are a fantastic, tasty appetizer, and there is no shortage of beer on hand. You can expect a solid, upscale pub meal at a reasonable price. In short, it’s pretty much everything you could want in a pre-game dinner.

300 Marietta St.
Atlanta, GA 30313
(404) 885-1472

STATS is another sports bar choice within walking distance of Atlanta’s stadium. Don’t expect anything fancy from this spot and you won’t be disappointed. What it lacks in variety it makes up for in convenience and beer selection. If you’re in a hurry, this is a good choice to get something in your stomach before heading in to the stadium, and there are plenty of monitors showing different sporting events at all times.

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Keely Herrick is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com. “