Its a known fact that some of the coolest people in Georgia actually live in Decatur. Our intrepid adventurous real estate restaurant review team chose Decatur for this month’s set of reviews. Why has it taken this long for us to get there? In a nutshell, I think maybe because Decatur is just too cool, and we all got a bit nervous. But here it is: some of our fave places in one of the most sought after Cities in the U.S.
By Patrick Benton
Seventeen years is a very, very long time for a restaurant to operate. Can you name many that have been around that long? There is a lot that can go wrong to knock out your business or to knock YOU out of the business. Yet that is how long Café Lily near Decatur Square has not only operated, but flourished over the past 17 years. I chose Café Lily because of its consistently well-rated scores and positive comments in online foodie articles. After my recent trip there, I have to say I concur.
Let’s start with the atmosphere. Café Lily is a charming place with seating available both inside and outside (dog friendly patio!). Inside you will find a very pretty place with soft lighting and music and a bright candle flickering on each table. As the name may imply, there are also fresh cut flowers on each table. Atmosphere—check.
Next, before you head to your table, take a swing over to the full bar, have a seat and relax. Treat yourself to a Basil Smash, a Limoncini, or (and this is where it gets fun) have a Rose Nylund, a Nutty Professor, a George Cloony’s Fiance’ (I’m pretty certain they need to update the name to “wife”, but I digress…) or my favorite of all time, the Karen Walker. The “Karen” is delicious, made with El Jimador Silver Tequila, fresh lime, White Jasmine and Grapefruit Shrub and a splash of pineapple. Jack would be so proud!
After we “Walker-ed” our way to our table, the food choices began. Café Lily’s menu is primarily Mediterranean cuisine featuring appetizers, salads, and pastas plus lamb, beef, chicken, and seafood entrees. Portions are big, but half-orders of many dishes are available and allow you to try multiple items.
I started off with an appetizer of delicious calamari. These calamari are the real deal—not battered and fried, but served sizzling with olive oil, garlic, scallions, and lemon. My dining partner, Mark, is a bit squid-phobic so I managed to eat an entire order by myself (don’t judge!). Mark ordered a half order of a fantastic Gigande Bean Salad – Greek broad beans, tomato, onion, cucumber, Hawaiian sweet basil, manouri cheese, red-wine vinaigrette. It was awesome.
For our entrees we both took the pasta route. I had a half-order of Seafood Pasta a la Crème – fresh diver scallops, wild Georgia shrimp, diced Roma tomatoes, and asparagus tips, simmered in a light lemon-cream sauce and tossed over fettuccine. Mark had a half-order of Ravioli Formaggio di Capra – goat cheese stuffed pasta, olive oil, organic baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh garlic, toasted pine nuts, and pecorino-Romano. Both dishes were fantastic!! After looking around at the dishes on other diner’s tables, I came to the conclusion that ALL the dishes on the menu HAD to be good! All seemed fresh, flavorful and well balanced. Obviously, the folks at Café Lily have gotten their groove on in the past 17 years!
Speaking of the folks at Café Lily, at the end of the day, they are the ones who make the place happen. Chef and owner, Anthony Pitillo keeps a close eye on the place and makes certain everything coming from the kitchen is perfect. He is also very proud of his amazing staff of servers, bartenders, line cooks and hosts. I asked Anthony about the secret to operating a successful restaurant for 17 years, he smiled and said “success—every day and every night from every one of us”. Obviously he knows what he is talking about—he has had 17 years to practice.
Café Lily is located at 308 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue in Decatur and is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunches. Here’s the Café Lily website for more information.
By Dawn Landau & Terry Kitts
Located right on the Decatur Square, this gastro-pub has unique brews, nice cocktails and terrific food. We tend to sit at the upstairs bar which is cozy and not very crowded so we can chat up the other customers and enjoy a bite. Our bartender, Sam, took great care of us. Terry had just ridden 50 on his bike so needed a burger! It was perfection… cooked to order, flavorful with thick cut bacon and cheddar.
Terry says: The beer was an Imperial Brown Ale from right around the corner in Avondale, called Wild Heaven. Yes, the Ode to Mercy Imperial Brown Ale was heavenly. Apparently Wild Heaven has a tasting room and are very nice folks, Sam shared with us. She also shared several tastes of her favorite beers, some were very unique. They care about the beer they serve and how they serve it.
I had the pimento cheese appetizer platter. OMG…this had all my faves,…pickled okra, pickled red onion, cauliflower and coarse grain mustard. I ate EVERY bite. I had a fresh squeezed grapefruit juice Greyhound cocktail. Well, maybe I had 2.
This place is perfect for a quick bite or a full meal. Park around the corner at the Park Mobile lot for $5 or ride Marta. Or, for our Decatur friends…just walk on over!
Visit the Brick Store website.
By Dawn Landau
We (Terry and I) had our first Jeni’s experience 5 years ago when Terry’s brother and sis-in-law sent us 6 pints for Christmas! It’s an Ohio-based company (Terry’s from Marietta) and they had visited the factory near Columbus. Now it’s everywhere and we LOVE that!
This visit we took home 3 pints for dessert after our Brick Store Pub lunch: Milkiest Chocolate, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and our go-to Salty Caramel. All were great but the standout was the Milkiest Chocolate. It was the very best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever tasted…no joke. The staff patiently brought us tastes (in super cute silver spoons – no plastic) and then served us up quick. There are several locations throughout the city. Try one TODAY! Info about the Decatur location is at the Jeni’s website here.
By Paige Stills
A trip to downtown Decatur is not complete without dinner at The Iberian Pig, located on the Decatur Square. The Iberico pig is a descendant of the Mediterranean wild boar and is reared free range in the meadows of Spain. A large part of their diet consists of acorns, attributing to its nutty flavor and aroma, and the curing process takes up to four years, as opposed to seven to 45 days for a good old American pig.
That being said, the Iberian Pig is arguably the best restaurant I’ve found in Decatur and there are plenty of them to choose from. They offer a variety of entrees, charcuterie selections, and 20-plus selections on their Tapas menu. The four of us indulged in selections from the tapas menu, and as always, were not disappointed. This is not a place that I would recommend if you are on a diet…well, not without an impressive show of restraint! If you are on a diet though, I recommend the Peach and Arugula Salad with vinaigrette dressing.
The B.W.D., Applewood bacon wrapped dates topped off with Romesco sauce, is probably my personal favorite item on the Tapas menu; hog heaven. But the Braised Rabbit Empanadas with salsa verde and Veal Shank Ravioli with roasted mushrooms, topped off with a black truffle sauce, both tie for second place. The Pork Cheek Tacos with corn salsa and the Iberico Mac’N’ Cheese made with a Mahon cheese and garlic sauce also deserve an honorable mention here.
So, if you have not dined at The Iberian Pig, I hope you will now! Learn more at the Iberian Pig Website.
By Briana Holmes
Brunch is a necessity, and a craving one must satisfy which is why I headed over to No. 246 for brunch on Sunday.
First off, the service here is amazing (even on a Sunday when everyone has the same mindset). While waiting, I decided to nibble on some ricotta fritters which were absolutely awesome. Once seated, I decided to venture out of my normal burger-loving self. Since this Italian-inspired restaurant was surrounding me, I decided to give the croissant french toast a try. After all, who doesn’t love croissants and french toast? MIND. BLOWN.
I can’t wait to head back to this cute eatery with friends. Perfect for brunch with family or date night, this place is amazing. Again, everything they make is FRESH! Who wants pre-made noodles or pasta? Not I! Oh yeah, both their mimosa and their bellini get nods of approval as well. Make sure you try them out! Check out the 246 Website for all the good stuff.