Mexi-Cali restaurant La Chiquiada is now open on West Trinity Place in Decatur. Adjacent to a WeWork co-working space and the Amli apartment complex, La Chiquiada is in a prime location to become what owner Catherine Zuber envisions as a gathering spot for the community.
Zuber, who grew up in Gwinnett County, started conceptualizing a style of restaurant that highlighted fresh, simple ingredients a few years ago while living in California. The pandemic changed her plans: Zuber lost her hospitality job there and ended up moving in with her family in Decatur.
“Over the past couple years, losing my job because of COVID-19 and moving home, not sure if I was going stay or go back [to California,] I took the time to just focus on this [restaurant],” she says. “I ended up getting an opportunity and this location worked out.”
Zuber has worked in restaurants for over a decade, and took a hospitality job in California after graduating from Auburn University. California’s foodways and its Mexican restaurants ultimately charmed her, and she calls La Chiquiada a love letter to the food she ate and was inspired by every day.
Chef Ulises Martinez leads the kitchen at La Chiquiada. The Oaxaca, Mexico, native aims to keep dishes at the Decatur restaurant simple, leaning into freshness and using as many local and house-made ingredients as possible.
“In the kitchen, we focus on the freshness of the product,” Martinez says. “I’ve been around kitchens for a long time, they usually [do five days on the steaks, the shelf life on other items] and over here we try to keep it daily. It takes a lot more work and a lot more time, a lot of labor, but I think in the end it makes a lot of difference.”
In the mornings, La Chiquiada serves breakfast tacos and house-made pastries paired with Prevail Roasters coffee. Weekend brunch supplements the breakfast menu. Lunch and dinner feature street-style tacos, salads, and quesadillas and larger entrees in the evenings, like citrus-marinated flank steak and a roast chicken dinner for two served with rice and freshly made tortillas. Zuber is especially fond of Martinez’s foraged mushroom quesadilla, which is made using Oaxacan cheese.
The bar focuses on mezcal and tequila cocktails and wines by the bottle and glass from California’s Napa Valley, Paso Robles, and Sonoma County.
Design-wise, La Chiquiada embraces blues and pinks. Two murals by Katherine Boggs bloom on the walls. Much of the building’s original details, such as the ceilings, remain intact. The indoor space is more intimate, while outside features a large patio.
“We’re super excited about our location,” Zuber says. “We’re right under a WeWork and adjacent to a big apartment building, and obviously the walkability here in Decatur and the community is fantastic. People will come by and introduce themselves and they seem to be excited.”
Zuber hopes La Chiquiada and the food Martinez serves here offers people options on how they wish to dine at the restaurant. People can sit down and eat a meal or even work while grabbing a bite, she says, or simply grab food and go.
“The goal of this restaurant is to be a gathering space for everyone,” she says, adding that Southern hospitality also plays a central role at La Chiquiada. “I’m going to do my best to make sure we’re accommodating and fitting the needs [of the community].”
Open Tuesday - Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
110 West Trinity Place, Decatur. lachiquiada.com.