In the SEC, it just means more. More tailgating. More partying. More drinking. The Southeastern Conference just does college football game days bigger and better than any other conference. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Florida-Georgia’s “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
From Tuscaloosa to Gainesville to Knoxville or College Station, there are an endless amount of college bars to visit. Mike Price and Johnny Manziel are probably going shot-for-shot at one of them. The best of these establishments include some combination of cheap drinks for the average broke student, dancing and live music, some sort of good food to chow down on and TVs to tune into your favorite football game.
Best College Bars in the South
If you haven’t trekked across the Southeastern United States catching games at each SEC stadium during football season, I’d advise you to do so. For your convenience, I’ve compiled the best college bar in every SEC city.
Make sure to bookmark this when you do go on that trip.
And a reminder: college students generally can’t afford a craft beer beer selection at swanky breweries, so don’t complain when your favorite overpriced gastropub doesn’t make the cut. Now, to the list:
University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
Bar: Bourbon Street
Mardi Gras touches down in the Deep South at Bourbon Street. Guzzle fishbowls until you’re drunkenly dancing on a table like the rest of the bar will be doing. There’s no better spot in Athens after a UGA victory, and you might just spot a Bulldog running back or two.
Though it doesn’t compare to the party that is New Orleans, this Bourbon Street has everything you could ask for in a college bar. The Daily Meal thoughts so and ranked Bourbon Street the fifth-best college bar in America.
University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)
Bar: The Rowdy Reptile
The Rowdy Reptile, aka “Rowdy’s”, has everything a college bar should have: cheap drinks and pitchers, great music, a packed dance floor and gross bathrooms with zero privacy.
What makes Rowdy’s stand out from Gainesville’s other neighboring college bars is that it’s not one-dimensional. If you’re the type to sip and play games, there’s a giant basketball hoop in the middle of the bar. Like drawing? Write one of your friends’ digits on a chalk-covered wall. If you prefer a chiller vibe, there’s an outdoor balcony where you can heckle other passersby on West University Avenue.
Oh, and you can order food while you’re getting your Steph Curry on. The quesadillas are your best bet, just don’t get too wasted and start flinging them like Frisbees at other patrons.
Plenty of TVs make this a great game day spot for students, alumni and families to root on the Gators. Just remember to bring your 21+ ID later in the night.
University of Missouri (Columbus, Missouri)
Bar: Harpo’s Bar & Grill
There’s a reason Harpo’s is known as “The Missouri Bar.” Everyone who’s anyone has been to the iconic Columbus bar.
If your stomach is grumbling, there’s an assortment of tasty barbecue available to choose from. Drinks are cheap, too. Two-dollar Tuesdays allow you to get pretty much any drink or appetizer for just two bucks.
The beautiful upstairs part is a huge, open patio perfect for game day festivities and SEC football viewing. Stroll downstairs and you’ll stumble upon 10 Below, a bar with a club-like atmosphere where you can get your boogie on.
Harpo’s newest and coolest addition, though? A Top Golf swing suite bay where you can down some brews and drive some greens in a simulated game of 18 holes. Mizzou knows how to party in style.
University of South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina)
Search Pavlov’s on Yelp and you’ll find two things: a picture of a guy lying face down in a urinal and some really awful reviews. Looks like we’ve found our ideal college hangout.
Pavlov’s features a large patio and live music, plus you can shoot a round or two of pool while not breaking the bank at the bar.
Naysayers will warn you that it’s “too Greek” or “all freshmen.” Blasphemy. Head on over to Pav’s after finals and drink ‘til you forget about them.
University of Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky)
Bar: Two Keys Tavern
Two words: Goldfish. Racing. Yes, really. March on in to Two Keys Tavern on Wednesdays and you can select a goldfish to race against other competitors in a bracket-style tournament. Even NBA legend Scottie Pippen has gotten in one the action.
There’s no other spot you should be before, during and after a Kentucky Wildcats basketball game. Two Keys looks like an old, saloon-type bar but is filled with tons of rowdy college kids. Cheap beer and liquor is plentiful, of course, and Thursday nights you can get 10 drinks for $10 if you have a local college ID.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re in Two Keys during the NCAA Tournament.
Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee)
Bar: Piranha’s Bar & Grill
Basically every place on Nashville’s Broadway Street has live music. It is the country music capital of the world, after all. However, not all of them have donut burgers and breakfast shots. Piranha’s Bar and Grill is home to both.
This isn’t just a Sunday morning joint. Piranha’s has 10,000 square feet of floor space to roam around, do your best MC Hammer impression or catch a game. Stop in during two-for-one happy hour weekdays from 2-7 p.m. or a bite to eat all night every night. Oh, and expect to sweat.
University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tennessee)
Bar: Cool Beans Bar & Grill
The Bean is everything that its name implies: awesome. From pool tables to darts to beer pong to music to sports, you’ll never be bored at Cool Beans.
There’s a reason Business Insider named it one of the best college bars in America. Come down some Bud Lights on a game day and you’ll quickly find out why.
University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
Bar: The Houndstooth Sports Bar
Like most of the bars on this list, The Houndstooth is Tuscaloosa’s best place to watch Alabama’s football team crush its opponents on game days.
Munch on some barbecue nachos while hustling a few Auburn chumps in billiards in this sports fan’s haven that features 36 TVs. Trivia, bingo and pool tournaments will keep you busy on weekdays.
Named one of Sports Illustrated’s best sports bars, The Houndstooth has been a Southern and American staple for over 25 years and will probably be for 25 more.
Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas)
Bar: Chimy’s Cerveceria
The bar that Johnny Football built. Chimy’s became famous when Heisman winner Johnny Manziel celebrated the Cleveland Browns selecting him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by buying everyone in his favorite College Station joint a beer and a shot, which cost him about $2,000.
The mexican-themed Chimy’s will make you feel like it’s Cinco de Mayo every day of the year. That means margaritas and tacos are the move here, so come when you’re parched or starving.
Would Johnny Football really steer you wrong?
Mississippi State University (Starkville, Mississippi)
Bar: Cowbells Sports Grill
Everyone in Starkville knows there’s only one late night spot to get your drink on and that’s Cowbells. That’s partly because it’s the only bar allowed to stay open until 3 a.m. (it falls under county rules, not city) and partly because it’s a blast.
Cowbells offers a huge dance floor and plenty of live music, so lace up your cowboy boots and get ready to square dance the night away while sipping rum and cokes.
Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
Bar: Fred’s Bar & Grill
Looking for a chill, laid-back bar with a quiet ambiance? Fred’s in Tigerland is 100 percent not for you then. You might was well call it a party in a bar (a barty?)
Where Fred’s goes unmatched is the drink specials. Dollar drinks from 7-10 p.m. on Fridays and quarter (yes, like one single quarter) drinks on select nights will have you more smashed than the dislike button on Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video.
Established in 1982, Fred’s prides itself on being LSU’s oldest college bar. There’s a reason it’s lasted as long as it has.
Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama)
Quixote’s was ranked the best college bar in America for good reason. From $2.50 wells to $3 32-ounce draft beers or even $1 taco Tuesdays, you could truly ball on a college student’s budget at this iconic Auburn landmark.
However, the iconic game day oasis closed in 2019 and was rebranded in a brand new bar called Southeastern. Quixotes co-owners Jon Hyink, Chris Godbold and manager Dade Nunnally transported all the energy and pricing of Quixotes into its new home, and things are as hot as ever.
“We want it to feel like Quixotes,” Nunnally told the Auburn Villager. “It’s a place they can feel comfortable hanging out in and mainly with other college students.”
Southeastern features a 60-foot pine bar on the main floor, 25-foot ceiling, pool table, main stage for bands and DJs, outdoor patio and full-service kitchen dishing out Quixotes classics.
Ole Miss (Oxford, Mississippi)
Bar: The Library Sports Bar
Mom: “Hey sweetie, what are your plans for the night?”
You: “Not much just heading to the library.”
Maybe your parents will catch on quickly. Maybe not. Either way The Library Sports Bar is your classic college bar: sticky floors, awful dancing and probably a lot of random make-outs.
The Library is also big enough to accommodate a solid game day crowd — it has an upstairs deck that overlooks the downstairs section — so make your way over to it on Saturdays.
The Library even once sold $100 “library cards” that ensured no cover for a year and the line went out the door and around the street. That’s how poppin’ this place is.
University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
Bar: Dickson Street Pub
The Dickson Street Pub is exactly what it sounds like: a cozy Irish pub with little space but a lot of alcohol.
The Hog Punch headlines a list of signature drinks, all served in 32-ounce mason jars. This might not be the sweaty, disgusting dance venue that most college bars are, but it features an outdoor patio that overlooks campus and tons of live music. That makes it a perfect watering hole for students and people of all ages.
This article was originally published May 21, 2019.