Delightful Downtown Decatur

By Laura Mariani

Originally published Winter 2010.

sulcus109The City of Decatur is home to many Emory grad students thanks to its proximity to campus and attractive local businesses. Atlanta’s next‐door neighbor offers lots to do on a student‐friendly budget. Many hot spots can be found within a single square mile centered on Downtown Decatur. Some of us live close enough to walk there, but the attractions described here are also accessible by car (pay lots and elusive street parking), MARTA (Decatur Station on the East/West line) or the free CCTMA Cliff shuttle bus from Emory (until 7 PM, weekdays only).


Brick Store Pub ‐ Rated one of the best beer bars in the country, the Brick Store specializes in Belgian styles but has something for every taste. Good luck finding a seat here on Friday or Saturday night, but it’s great for a beer lunch or weeknight casual dinner. They serve burgers and pretzels aplenty, as well as excellent salads when you want something lighter. Beers $4‐$8; sandwiches and entrees $7+.

Leon’s Full Service ‐ The Brick Store’s companion pub (same owners) opened just down the road in 2009. Slightly more upscale, but you can still wear your lab clothes. The typical pub fare gets a classy twist, and house cocktails feature fresh fruit juice and herbs. The outdoor bocce court offers additional entertainment. Beers $4.75‐$8; cocktails $8‐9; sandwiches and entrees $8‐$18.

The Marlay House (formerly The Grange) ‐ A classic Irish pub with a beer list that never disappoints (classics like Guinness are always available, with rotating taps featuring special craft brews). Great for catching the football (soccer) game or lounging all night on their breezy covered patio. Sandwiches and entrees $5.50 ‐ $11.

Neuroscience students hang out at Twain’s in Decatur. Photo by Matt Magnuson.
Neuroscience students hang out at Twain’s in Decatur. Photo by Matt Magnuson.

Twain’s Billiard and Tap ‐ This bar has plenty of space, perfect for large crowds of thirsty neuroscientists. They brew their own beer, which is affordable if not gourmet (drink specials Monday‐ Thursday). A few rotating guest taps and lots of bottled selections round out the bar. Twain’s also has 13 pool tables, 4 dart lanes, 2 shuffleboard tables, and some arcade games for friendly competition. Sandwiches and entrees $6‐$11.50.

Taco Mac ‐ With over 90 beers on tap, Taco Mac has something for everyone. Work your way through the entire beer list over time to win a prize and the respect of your peers, or just share a pitcher and some wings. Food is available, but mediocre.

The Thinking Man Tavern ‐ Down the road a piece on W. Howard Ave., The Thinking Man is a nerd’s paradise featuring antique microscopes, among other things, with a collection of board games behind the bar to keep you occupied. Pint Night on Wednesday (1/2 price draft beers) is a program favorite. The potato rounds are breathtaking. Draft beer $4‐$5, sandwiches and entrees $6‐$9.50.

The Corner Pub ‐ Southeast of downtown Decatur near Agnes Scott College, this pub is far enough off the beaten track to avoid huge weekend crowds. A wide variety of food is available, including lots of vegetarian‐friendly options. Draft beer $4‐$5, sandwiches and entrees $6‐$12.50.


Raging Burrito / Raging Taco ‐ Home of burritos the size of your head and pitchers of fine margaritas. Choices range from typical meat, beans and rice combos to blackened tilapia, pineapple jerk tofu, and teriyaki! Validated parking available in the adjacent lot, large patio for outdoor dining. Burritos $4.50 ‐ $8, frozen margarita pints occasionally on special for $4.95.

Taqueria del Sol ‐ The line is usually out the door for these amazing little mouthfuls of taco goodness. Don’t worry, they’ve got a system, and you won’t have to wait too long. Enjoy a few tacos with a side salad and a bottle of beer or a frosty margarita. Tacos $2.19, enchiladas $3.19, sides $1.89.

Figo ‐ Fresh pasta is made daily at this unpretentious little Italian place in East Decatur Station (near Agnes Scott College). Pick your favorite noodle and top it with the sauce of your choosing. A cute date spot for broke students – slurp spaghetti, Lady and the Tramp style. Wine $4.75‐$7 per glass; pasta with sauce $8‐$12; panini $8.

Sawicki’s ‐ A crunchy little organic grocer and butcher shop that also serves great sandwiches. Quality cold cuts with delicious veggies and condiments make for a low‐key treat at their communal dining table. Also a great place to splurge on grass‐fed beef or locally farmed eggs to bring home. Sandwiches $7‐$9.

Study Spots!

Java Monkey ‐ “The Decatur Caffeinator” serves coffee beverages, pastry, and beer/wine. This funky cafe also regularly features live music.

Dancing Goats ‐ This Washington‐based fancy coffee purveyor has an espresso bar on W. Ponce de Leon Ave. Open until 7 PM, they offer coffee, doughnuts, wifi, and hang‐out space.

Decatur Library ‐ The local branch of the DeKalb County Public Library offers a quiet space for reading when you’re sick of the libraries at Emory. They also have a decent selection of magazines for browsing, if you’re too cheap to subscribe. Open until 9 PM Monday‐Thursday, 6 PM on Friday‐Sunday.

Get off Your Butt!

The PATH ‐ One of the few car‐free stretches of pavement in sprawling metro Atlanta, the PATH runs along Howard Avenue/College Avenue south of Downtown Decatur. A haven for cyclists, runners, and dog‐walkers, it stretches all the way from Martin Luther King Center to Stone Mountain Park. Most of the 17‐mile PATH trail is green space, but a few miles run along the road (and, in this case, the train tracks as well).

Adair Park ‐ Located off of W. Ponce de Leon Avenue on Adair St. Your canine friends may enjoy a visit to the fenced dog run, and a playground is available for the young or young‐at‐heart.

CORE Body Decatur ‐ While Emory students have access to the university gym for free, group fitness classes are not included. Some yoga, spinning, and aerobics addicts may prefer to join a separate health club to get their fix. This local gym offers discounts if you sign up for a full year, and even lower rates if you sign up with a friend. Or stop by for a single class for $7.50.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s