Decatur may feel like an extension of Atlanta, but this historic city to the east is home to a diverse community of people, charming neighborhoods with tree-lined streets, and features a dining scene of its very own with award-winning restaurants among its ranks.
Given the city’s close proximity to Atlanta and the campuses of Emory University and Agnes Scott College, over 25,000 people call Decatur home. The 200-year-old city also draws thousands of visitors each year who stroll the streets of downtown Decatur to shop, eat, and drink.
Adding to its appeal as a dining destination, the Decatur city commission created an open-container policy in 2021, allowing restaurants and bars in designated areas to serve alcohol in approved to-go cups for off-premise consumption on the weekends. Food carts also roam the town square and parks throughout Decatur to create more grab-and-go food options for residents and visitors to the city.
With a centrally located MARTA train station, a weekend open-container policy, and pedestrian friendly streets downtown, Decatur offers a unique opportunity for people seeking a car-free dining experience. The Decatur MARTA station (Blue Line) resides on Church Street in the heart of the dining district.
Here’s how you could spend a day partaking in a progressive food crawl through downtown Decatur.
Stop 1: Lunch buffet at Chai Pani
406 West Ponce de Leon Avenue
You’ll want to pace yourself at this first stop. Just consider the lunch buffet at Chai Pani a base layer for what’s to come on your Decatur food crawl. The Indian street food restaurant, owned by award-winning chef Meherwan Irani, offers a lunch buffet featuring kale pakoras, saag paneer, bhel puri, and butter chicken. There’s also plenty of naan to choose from on the buffet, as well as an assortment of chutneys and hot chai. Take as much or as little as you want, because everything is easily shared. Served daily, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. $14.99 per person weekdays; $19.99 per person weekends. Kids 10 and under $9.99.
Stop 2: Espresso at Dancing Goats Coffee
419 West Ponce de Leon Avenue
After grabbing lunch at Chai Pani, head across the street to Dancing Goats for a shot or two of espresso or a cortado. Take a seat inside or out on the street side patio before moving on to your next food crawl stop.
Stop 3: Kimchi taco at KBBQ Taco
105 Clairemont Avenue
Food crawls are all about managing portions and not overeating before the final destination. A short walk from Dancing Goats on Clairemont Avenue near the old Decatur courthouse, KBBQ Taco offers a Korean barbecue taco garnished with kimchi. Made from salted and fermented cabbage and vegetables, kimchi can help aid in digestion. Order the spicy pork or tofu taco with house-made kimchi. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Stop 4: Beer and afternoon snack at Brick Store Pub beer garden
125 East Court Square
A food and drink crawl in Decatur wouldn’t be complete without a stop for at pint at Brick Store Pub, regularly cited as one of the best beer bars in the country. And that’s not hyperbole, folks. Brick Store offers an extensive list of local, Belgian, and hard-to-find beers and features a food menu that rivals many of the best restaurants in Decatur. The place to be on a pleasant day is in the beer garden behind the building. It offers fire pits, a separate food and beer menu, a patio bar, and shady spots for lounging. Order baskets of smoked wings or tots (add the vegetarian chili) to share and sip on a locally brewed lager or imported hefeweizen. Dogs on leashes welcome. Family friendly.
Stop 4 alternative: The daily popcorn or cold ramen noodles tossed with sesame seeds, scallions, and peanuts paired with a whiskey coke slushie from Victory Sandwich Bar on Church Street.
Stop 5: Happy hour at Boho 115
115 Sycamore Street
After spending some time relaxing (and resetting) in the beer garden at Brick Store, move on to happy hour at Boho 115 on Decatur Square. The seafood and tapas bar features a daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with beer and wine specials. Oysters are also half off on Monday and Thursday. Pair a pisco sour or Floridita with tuna sashimi, a selection of conservas (tinned fish), or a half dozen oysters before heading out for dinner. The best seats in the house are by the windows downstairs or upstairs along a rail overlooking Decatur Square.
Stop 6: Dinner at the Deer and the Dove
155 Sycamore Street
There are a number of superb restaurants for dinner in downtown Decatur, including critically acclaimed restaurant Kimball House, The White Bull, French bistro Cafe Alsace, and Ford Fry’s Italian spot No. 246, but the Deer and the Dove offers a range of dishes to satisfy meat eaters, pescatarians, and vegetarians. Backed by James Beard award-winning chef Terry Koval, this Eater 38 essential restaurant has become a dining destination for Decatur residents and Atlantans. Koval’s commitment to local farmers and the slow food movement shines through in plates like the weekly salad pickings with in-season greens and vegetables from nearby farms, the Cheese From Our Friends platter, and chicken liver pate using Grateful Pastures birds. Stars on Koval’s menu include the coffee-dusted seared venison, hearty harvest vegetable plate, and the bone marrow and snails. Dishes are easily shared family style. Bar manager Matt Watkins and his team make a mean gin martini and seasonal Old Fashioned. Reservations encouraged.
Detour: Catch a show at Eddie’s Attic
515 North McDonough Street
After dinner, take in a show at local music haunt Eddie’s Attic. The Decatur music bar opened in 1991 and is now a staple for catching shows featuring local and touring musicians and spoken word artists. Shows are intimate at Eddie’s and typically begin at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. and last about two hours. A limited food menu is available, along with cocktails, beer, and wine. Purchasing tickets in advance is highly suggested.
Stop 7: After-dinner drinks and snacks at S.O.S. Tiki Bar
340 Church Street
This Decatur food crawl ends with fire and flair, and maybe a little food, at S.O.S. Tiki Bar around the corner from the Deer and the Dove. Follow the neon sign leading you down a small alleyway lined with patio tables to the entrance of a semi-subterranean cocktail lair. S.O.S. offers a modern, slightly irreverent twist on the classic tiki bar. Kitsch is just enough to satisfy diehard tikiphiles without overwhelming those simply seeking an excellent cocktail. Look for riffs on tiki classics like the Mai Tai, Zombi, and frozen Painkiller, along with creative originals from the S.O.S. bar team. Pop-ups frequent the small kitchen here, and have included Little Bear chef Jarrett Stieber, Asian street food from Mushi Ni, and currently High Tide Hinky Dinks from the team behind Mothers Best friend chicken (Order the Dude Dude platter.) Squeeze into a booth, grab a seat at the bar, or a table outside in the alley.