One of the first things you might notice upon arrival in Downtown Decatur is the giant courthouse off the main square. This courthouse and its surrounding area date back to the 1820s, when the city was newly incorporated by the Georgia General Assembly in what was then a sleepy rural town. The second oldest municipality in metro Atlanta, Decatur was named for early American naval commodore Stephen Decatur. The city steadily grew outward from its core throughout the 1800s as a sibling of Atlanta, which now eclipsed it to the west. Still, its origin on a trading post, and its position on the railroad and trolley lines made it a vital location for the region.
By 1889, the affluent neighborhood that sprung up to the south of the tracks became home to the Decatur Female Academy, a female liberal arts college today known as Agnes Scott College. Other neighborhoods sprung up around Decatur as well, providing a diverse base of residents that developed the city as agriculture declined in prominence. (Decatur absorbed the nearby neighborhood of Oakhurst in the 1910s.) The development of a MARTA rail station right on the Downtown Decatur square in the late 1970s, as well as several retail buildings, has revitalized that area into a pedestrian-focused space surrounding the Old Courthouse that is home to many of the venues featured below. Over the last few decades, Decatur has prided itself on its independent, progressive vibes — becoming a creative haven for students, families, and culinary fans alike.
What can I do for fun in Decatur?
Catch a tune-up close at Eddie’s Attic. Let Beyoncé and Taylor Swift conquer the stadiums. If you want a more intimate place to catch a live show, check out Eddie’s Attic. Occupying the upstairs listening room of a building just off Decatur Square since 1991, Eddie’s Attic is a popular spot for singer-songwriters and smaller acts to perform. Sometimes you might get big names, but more often you’ll get talented local and regional performers who just might become the next big thing. (John Mayer, The Civil Wars, and Sugarland have gotten their starts here.) Check their website for the extensive lineup of upcoming acts.
Shop local artisans for the perfect gift. Decatur Square is home to several shops that feature art and goods by local artists that would make a perfect gift or souvenir. There’s Square Foot, which specializes in quirky home goods and gifts. Wild Oats and Bill Goats focuses on folk art and a variety of mediums. And HomeGrown is a collective of over 100 metro artists selling unique creations — everything from stickers and jewelry to posters and plushies.
Get festive this fall. Oakhurst’s Porch Fest is a cozy neighborhood celebration held in October. Residents across the neighborhood open their front porches to bands performing a variety of musical genres, and the public at large. Grab a beer and walk the streets as you take in the sights and sounds. For bookworms, the Decatur Book Festival — one of the largest literary festivals in the country — is taking 2023 off but will return in fall 2024.
Where are the best places to eat and drink in Decatur?
This new bubble tea shop goes against the grain. Started by ICU nurse Christine Nguyen after the pandemic, Rebel Teahouse aims to bring joy and fun to your beverage life with its hand-crafted drinks and unique flavor combinations. Try their popular Dirty Matcha and watch your barista hand whisk matcha powder and top it off with bruléed cheese foam. Or go fruity with a strawberry milk tea or their seasonal honeydew slush. Rebel also has a strong community focus, with frequent pop-ups from local food vendors and fundraisers to support metro charities.
Location: 225 E Ponce de Leon Ave, Suite 110; Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Website: rebelteahouse.com
Brick Store Pub
This Decatur Square mainstay is renowned for its extensive drink list, with a selection of local and international beers, wines, and spirits. If you can think it, you can drink it at Brick Store. Whatever you choose, take it out back to their cozy beer garden space beyond the alleyway. Pair your drinks with some of the best pub food in the city, from smoked wings and fries to Brunswick stew and fried pierogies.
Location: 125 E Court Square; Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Website: brickstorepub.com
Spice up your day with this award-winning Indian restaurant, originally from Asheville. Lunchtime diners can take advantage of their extensive lunch buffet, with a variety of sharable dishes inspired by Indian street food. Grab popular dishes such as butter chicken and bhel puri, or all the naan you could devour with multiple chutneys to dip in. If you want to savor individual dishes, come for the a la carte menu during dinner, which adds bowls and Uttapam crepes to the street food selections.
Location: 406 W Ponce de Leon Ave; Hours: Sunday through Thursday, Lunch buffet: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Dinner: 5-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, Lunch buffet: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Dinner: 5-10 p.m.; Website: chaipani.com/decatur
Victory Sandwich Bar
Don’t be fooled by their tiny sandwiches. Victory Sandwich Bar packs big energy into their affordably priced meals. Start off with zesty ramen noodles or their watermelon salad, and pair it with a Han Cholo chorizo sandwich or Limp Brizkit BBQ beef slider. Wash it down with a signature Jack and Coke slushie. Adding to the offbeat nature of Victory are their frequent projections of silent movies on the wall that would be at home on a B-movie cult classics channel.
Location: 340 Church St; Hours: Daily, noon to midnight; Website: vicsandwich.com
The Deer and the Dove
While many places in Decatur seem to relish their casual, quirky spirit, the area is also home to several quality fine dining establishments. Of those, this recent James Beard Award winner is a standout. Featuring seasonal veggie dishes, locally sourced proteins such as smoked trout and White Oak duck breast, and even a classic burger topped with truffle cheese and onions, Terry Koval’s team will wow your date night. They also serve a range of wines and creative cocktails. For those looking to sample their quality without breaking the bank, grab a coffee and a bagel sandwich from sister venue B-Side next door.
Location: 155 Sycamore St; Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4-11 p.m.; Sunday, 4-9 p.m; Website: deerdove.com