While Atlanta is Georgia’s center stage bragging point—the hub of the South, home of the Braves, land of fried foodways infused with a contemporary, international flare—the suburb of Decatur that lies just six miles east of the metropolis is home to some of the highest-ranked restaurants in the city.
For those passing through “the city too busy to hate,” here are some local recommendations for unforgettable Decatur restaurants.
If you’re looking for something quick and sweet, stopping in at Revolution Doughnuts and Coffee is a must. They serve a variety of weekly and seasonal specials, from trick or treat doughnuts in October to king cake doughnuts come Mardi Gras, made with all-natural and organic ingredients. Grab a cup of their drip coffee—organic and fair trade from Café Campesino in Americus, Georgia—to go along with your cake or yeast style breakfast. Beware, though: this West College Avenue joint is so popular that the line wraps around the building on weekend mornings.
For a heartier meal, stop by Sweet Melissa’s on the courthouse square. My recommendation: “The Mad Platter,” a plate loaded with pancakes or french toast, fries or grits, and the bacon or sausage of your choice. If your stomach’s not up for that much, the basic breakfast with the fruit cup as a side is my alternative go-to.
Farm Burger is easily the best burger in town. Even better? Grass-fed beef and the option of a gluten-free bun. Get the Farm Burger sauce on yours, and hopefully enjoy a conversation with your neighbors at one of the picnic table seating areas.
If you’re still full from your hearty breakfast, try Green Ginger Asian Fusion for a lighter lunch of sushi, pad thai, or a build-your-own noodle bowl.
Dancing Goats Coffee Bar
Head across the street from Farm Burger to Dancing Goats Coffee Bar for a post-lunch caffeine boost. The Goats brews Batdorf & Bronson—also organic and fair trade—in a roomy, relaxed space on West Ponce de Leon Avenue. For those of you who like your café a little on the edgy side, head up Ponce a few blocks to Church Street to grab a cup at Java Monkey, a Decatur mainstay that also features a wine bar and food menu, including desserts from Southern Sweets Bakery.
My recommendations will leave out so many of the great places to linger over your food and drink, but two of my favorites can actually be found on the same block.
No. 246 serves upscale Italian in a space that is both relaxed and chic, creating dishes with local, fresh ingredients. A recent plate of spaghetti al pomodoro was luxurious, and their Margherita pizza is classic—what my family dined on at my college graduation lunch, in fact.
Just two steps up the sidewalk you’ll find the cozy, intimate Café Alsace, a casual but cultured space where you are not only allowed, but encouraged, to linger over a rich French meal. The poulet farci was my “last supper” before having my wisdom teeth removed—the most satisfying food coma I’ve ever experienced.
Ones I’m leaving out but well worth a visit: Cakes & Ale, The Iberian Pig, Wahoo! Grill.
Photo courtesy of Ammentorp Photography via Shutterstock.
Post-Dinner Bar Crawl
To be frank, Decatur is saturated in good drink options. If you can stomach it, here are the go-to watering holes, organized by libation of choice:
- The Brick Store Pub – their beer menu is like a beer Bible.
- Twain’s Billiards and Tap – a microbrewery, pool hall, and pub.
- Trackside Tavern – for their $2 beer of the day, of course. This is also where you should end your night at 3:00am for a basket of tots and a game of darts.
- Three Taverns Brewery – stop by their tasting room for a few pours ($2 off if you ride your bike), especially their latest, El Recluso.
- Kimball House – try the oysters, too, and enjoy the stunning interior.
- Leon’s Full Service – seasonal and class cocktails, all of which will make you weep with joy.
- The Pinewood Tippling Room – try to nurse your drink in a window seat for simultaneous people-watching.
- Victory Sandwich Bar – for the $5 Jack and Coke slushie, this hipster bar’s specialty.
- Paper Plane – recently featured in Garden & Gun, found in the alley behind Victory, so popular that seating is scarce.
You can also drop by the Square Pub, Mac McGee’s, and the Marlay House, if you like your bars traditional, Irish, and/or snug.
The Decatur food scene is one that celebrates and embraces the fresh, the natural, the local, the ethical, and the community-centered. It’s a city that loves good food and drink and respects the creativity and commitment that are poured into pleasurable dining experiences—ones that support local businesses, ones that you can feel good about.
*Featured image courtesy of Korbut Ivetta via Shutterstock.
Contributed by Agnes Scott College
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor’s, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn’t really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.