5 (NON-CHAIN) SPOTS IN DECATUR PERFECT FOR BREAKFAST, BUSINESS OR CATCHING UP

I like Starbucks. I really do. Their coffee might be a bit strong for my liking, but they are so darn convenient. They’re everywhere. And that’s really the core of why I’m not “all in” for them.

I guess, I’m sort of partial to the scrappy, friendly independent shops that have carved out a loyal following without million dollar marketing budgets or marketing teams with fancy pants college degrees. And I like Decatur.

So I thought, why not take those two “likes” and add in the thought “where would I like to spend a couple of my valuable morning hours to hold a business meeting, catch up with a friend or simply relax with a great cup of coffee or pleasant breakfast?” Sounded like a good idea to me. Now, all I needed to do was find 5 spots in Decatur worthy of the story (okay, so maybe that sounds a little vain, but it does take a bit of time crafting one of these stories and I didn’t want to waste a good idea on an unworthy business).

With a bit of research, here’s what I came up with. I hope you try each of these places out and tell me I’m a genius or… Actually, if you disagree with me, you don’t need to tell me since I’m incredibly thin-skinned and don’t handle criticism well at all.

Before I tell you about my selections, here’s a brief notice of something we’ve got brewing and will roll out in the coming weeks.

Stories that Connect.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be adding a feature into every story that will allow any reader to connect with the businesses being featured in the story–anonymously. None of the businesses, us at Top 5 or anyone else will know who you are. Connecting anonymously means that you’ll never have to give out your email address to any business in order to hear from them (such as to learn about new products or even discounts). 

We believe that providing readers with this power doesn’t help just you, our reader, but it helps lots of hard working business owners in our community by removing the main communication barrier between customers and businesses–the overcrowded email inbox. Protecting your privacy helps you make more connections and allows a business to make their best “pitch” to convince you to visit.

Now, back to the stars of the story.

RISE-N-DINE

This spot is almost two different restaurants with the same solid food, 1) the fast and efficient breakfast-and-lunch diner during peak hours, and 2) that cozy, chill place where locals, Emory faculty, maker moms, film folks, and other artists linger over lattes and lunch.

And one local described it perfectly in his review: “I’m enthused. The food was perfect; the staff delightful and very efficient. Started with the fresh squeezed OJ. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to get the juice without the bitter oils of the peel. It shows a dedication to quality so rare to find. The coffee was, to my tastes at least, better than Starbucks. Perfect pancakes with flashback to my youth Log Cabin syrup. Could have gone for genuine maple, but I was thoroughly enjoying the double dose of great food with a dash of nostalgia. Cheese and eggs with bacon all delicious. You might run into a wait, but regardless, If you get the chance, give this place a try.”

Located at: 1565 N. Decatur Rd. NE, Atlanta GA 30307. 404.377.4407

LE PETIT MARCHET’ www.thelittlemarket.net

I love this place not simply because of the food, but because of the story. And what a story it is. From the owner, “In the early years, shortly before the devastating recession, I struggled to remain open as the intention was to be a retail market (primarily) with a small lunch counter. The sandwiches and salads coming out of my “kitchenette” (which consisted of a George Foreman grill, a hotplate, a crockpot and an electric skillet) seemed to be what kept the lights on, although barely.

Closure seemed imminent; it loomed over me like a cloud. Eighteen months in and with absolutely nothing left, I tossed up a hail Mary by introducing breakfast and that changed the entire direction of the business. That was the gamechanger.”

And as for the food, the crowd-favorite is the French Toast Sandwich. It’s rum and vanilla-battered French toast stuffed with scrambled eggs and meat then drizzled with hot butter, hot syrup powdered sugar and cinnamon. The Grits Stack is a close second where a bowl of creamy grits come stacked with cheese eggs, chipotle-marinated shrimp, bacon and melted cheese.

Located at: 1984 Hosea L. Williams Dr., Atlanta, GA 30317. 404.371.9888. Open everyday from 8am-5pm .

GOOD KARMA COFFEE HOUSE goodkarmacoffeehouse.com

The sign outside gives a clue as to what you’ll find here. It says: Gluten Free Deli. For some, that might translate into “food that might be good for you, but not so satisfying.” They’d be wrong.

Learning a bit of the story of this place provides folks with an understanding of the passion that went into creating “a certified gluten free environment” but one that also offers food items and baked goods that could be enjoyed by the entire family, not just the person who is experiencing the health challenge.

In the owner’s own words, “The genesis of Good Karma Coffee originated from a need my daughter (Sharonda Frazier) had to change her eating pattern after realizing her and her daughter’s health challenges were a result of consuming products with gluten and dairy. Severe migraines, hot flashes, and mental lapses began to affect her on a daily basis. She found removing gluten from her diet difficult, especially when the family dined out, so she began to cook and bake at home, developing nutritious dishes and delicious baked goods that were healthy for the whole family.”

And as for the food, well one only has to look at the picture of cinnamon rolls here to dispel any doubts that the food won’t be amazing.

Located at: 31 N. Avondale Plaza Avondale Estates, GA 30002. 404.499.0999. Open: Tuesday- Friday 8am-2pm; Saturday 8am-3pm.

SWEET MELISSA’S

Unfortunately, I was never able to sync up with management here to fully do my research (running a restaurant can leave little time for anything else—especially talking with writers), but because this is such a popular place in the area, I knew I had to include it in my list. So I looked at a few review sites to gather my intelligence.

The overall opinion of customers was positive. One loyal customer put it this way, “This is a downtown Decatur staple and for good reason. I love a place that serves breakfast food all day, realizing that eggs, biscuits, and waffles can be enjoyed after the morning, too! On top of that, their food is delicious and well prepared.”

Sounds like a place you should try, even if its buzz of busyness might mean it’s a bit more challenging to plan on finding an open table right away or a long “catch up session” with a friend.

Located at: 127 E Court Sq., Decatur, GA 30030

DANCING GOATS COFFEE BAR

This was another locale that I was unable to chat with management, but the cool vibe of this spot forced me to include it. And a number of positive reviews exist not just about the atmosphere, but about price and other things that matter.

One reviewer put it in simple bullet points:

  • DRINK: Really good, like really good. They have a variety of iced, hot, and espresso options.
  • FOOD: They have quiches, yogurts, salads, hummus, bagels, fruit, pastries. I can vouch for the blueberry pastry which was a sponge-like cake-I thought it was delicious and a generous serving.
  • ATMOSPHERE: Really chill. They have indoor cafeteria style tables, as well as a really neat outdoor patio seating. Highly recommend coming here for an office work day or even catching up with a friend over coffee.

While it would have been great to get a story from the owner to go along with this information, I feel good about the above review–especially since the reviewer almost captured my headline in her last sentence.

Located at: 419 W Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, GA 30030