Spend a few minutes at Johnny's on a Saturday night, and you might start subconsciously drawing comparisons to a Discovery Channel episode on mating rituals in the wild. Frozen perpetually in 1979, Johnny's is known for their, er, diverse age range of patrons (crasser types might refer to it as a "cougar den," but we'd never stoop to such depths). You'll most likely spot a bevy of sequined, lipsticked gals busting moves to shag and disco on the crowded dance floor, and at least one or two slick gentlemen dressed in white from head-to-toe. That includes the hair.
Buford Highway Farmers Market
If you can dodge the shopping carts (and the tenacious grannies throwin' bows), this international market makes for some of the most fascinating people-watching in Atlanta. Perched right on Atlanta's international corridor, a few minutes in the BuHi market will expose you not only to foreign produce (don't be tempted by the durian), but also to the dozens of cultures and languages that make up ATL. If you're lucky, you might even catch some heated haggling over at the fish counter.
The ageless tiki bar beneath the Hilton isn't just a deliciously garish outpost of the '60s, or a lei-bedecked escape to Polynesia: it's also a microcosm of touristy weirdness (especially if you luck out and there's a convention going on). But even if you aren't surrounded by Dragon*Con-ners in all their costumed glory or friendly Furries romping about, you're still likely to get some good people-spotting time in once you camp out at the bar with a mug full of something you'll almost certainly regret the next morning. Show up on a Thursday and feast your eyes on the dance floor, where the drunken will be busting moves to the music of Tongo Hiti.
And the quality of people-watching is directly proportional to the time of day—the later you go, the better it gets. Show up around 3 a.m. to watch everyone from polo-shirted Virginia-Highland whippersnappers to sweaty MJQ-goers stumble through the door in a drunken, hashbrown-craving stupor—along with, of course, the neverending parade of Ponce's colorful characters.
A true vestige from another time, this honky-tonk is redolent with Stetson hats, Merle Haggard, menthol cigaretts and perhaps a few of the most interesting characters you'll ever encounter. Navigate around the parking lot full of big rigs, saunter inside, and saddle up to the bar (heads-up, your feet might stick to the beer-glazed floor a little) for a cheap beer and conversation. (And before you head down Moreland to Conley, study up with our late-night dispatch from SoCo. Long live George Jones.)