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We Take a Walk Through Atlanta's Most Underrated Gem: Decatur
By Lauren Loudermilk | Photo: Store photo courtesy of Find Co. Decatur | Oyster Photo and the White Bull Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee | Victory Photo courtesy of Victory Sandwich Bar | Eddie's Attic photo courtesy of the City of Decatur | May 29, 2019
The charming neighborhood has the grit tots, booze and parking to prove it.
Grit tots: balls of cheese grits breaded and fried into, well, tots. They’re on the menu at The Pinewood (@pinewoodtr) in Decatur, which also serves up elevated Southern classics alongside an inspired cocktail program (the official name is The Pinewood Tippling Room, after all). Farther down Ponce de Leon Avenue, in Decatur Square, The White Bull’s (@whitebullatl) bartenders can sling a cocktail shaker. The Hemingway-inspired trattoria specializes in housemade pastas, but also serves other exquisite Italian farm-to-table classics. Of course, one of Decatur’s crown jewels remains highly lauded, best-raw-bar-in-the-city Kimball House (@kimballhouse). It’s the finest dining can get without being pretentious. You’ll find absinthe service and Sazerac on the cocktail menu, caviar as an hors d’oeuvre, and oysters from Massachusetts to Florida on the half-shell.
Since you’re probably traveling the requisite 20 minutes between Atlanta neighborhoods, you might as well take a souvenir with you when you go. There’s nothing more memorable than what you’ll discover at Find Co. Decatur (@foundcodecatur), which stocks chic home goods and apothecary wares. More importantly: You’ll likely leave with a custom orchid composition or bespoke terrarium. If you’re in a quirky mood, lose an hour in SQ/FT (@sqft_decatur) perusing its eclectic wares that include cheeky cards, wool clothing and locally crafted home decor. Then pop across the Square to Little Shop of Stories (@littleshopofstories), an independent bookstore which also regularly hosts authors, including Neil Patrick Harris and Chelsea Clinton.
Okay, let’s be real: The best part of Decatur is its walkability, plus ample parking. You’ll find colorful art around every corner, on every lamppost and literally in the crosswalk when you’re in this neck of the woods. The city gives you plenty of reasons to see for yourself with festivals for every occasion. The AJC Decatur Book Festival (@decaturbookfestival), a literary nirvana happening Aug. 31, pulls in both local and national writers for panels and offers a stunning selection of second-hand books, as well as collector’s and first-editions, right in the center of town. Another event that capitalizes on fall weather is Porchfest, happening Oct. 12, where Oakhurst porches turn into stages for musicians. Camp out; walk around; bring your own food and drinks. It’s an event the Decatur way: low-key, homemade and good vibes. If you prefer, however, an enclosed venue, head to Eddie’s Attic (@eddiesattic), one of the best spots in all of ATL for hearing live music that has seen the likes of Brandi Carlile, John Mayer and Sugarland.
We’ve all been hit with the late-night munchies—vodka-induced, or not, no judgment—and some Decatur eateries cater to night-owl snackers. Victory Sandwich Bar (@victorysandwichbar) is known for loading up its titular treat with fresh ingredients (like white anchovies with lemon mayo) and the whiskey coke slushies—though the spiked sodas are just as good, if not better. But head to the ubercool eatery after 10pm and treat yourself to a Vic-Fil-A—Victory’s take on a chicken sandwich with all the fixings—if you really want something to hit the spot. Around the corner, Leon’s Full Service (@leonsfullservice) has a menu that spans plant, sea and meat, but go directly to the bucket fries, which come with a mélange of palate-pleasing sauces like melted goat cheese and chipotle mayo. Then there’s Doggy Dog (@doggydoggatl). Across the street from Kimball House in a subtle shop awaits the best hot dogs in the city, available until almost midnight on the weekends. Doggy Dog creates yummy goodness like the 404, with housemade pimento cheese, bacon bits, honey mustard and hot sauce; or the vegan Pushkar Pupp, with spicy onion relish, peppered plantain chips, peach habanero hot sauce, chutney and tandoori veganaise, all served with locally baked bread and preservative-free toppings. It’ll keep you coming back again and again and again…