On a prime corner of the Decatur square, in the space formerly occupied by Cakes & Ale (one of the most revered restaurants of the past two decades), comes an ambitious second act from chef Terry Koval of Wrecking Bar Brewpub fame. Koval’s new venture is farm-driven (check), kid-friendly (check), and evokes a hipster hunting lodge (check). But if you’re going to compare this restaurant to its predecessor—and who isn’t?—well, Cakes & Ale it ain’t. At least not yet. On a recent visit, the menu’s more creative compositions needed a bit of editing; though the octopus and shrimp terrine with pickled beans and mint emulsion sounded enchanting, the sum of the parts did not equal a cohesive dish, and a whole roasted trout with sweetbreads was an overload of mushiness. Instead, graze on the verdant, seasonal Weekly Salad Pickings or a well-dressed, dry-aged burger. Those simpler dishes, along with the sophisticated but low-key vibe, make for a charming night out. 155 Sycamore Street, Decatur, 404-748-4617
The team behind Argosy, the East Atlanta Village beer-nerd paradise, has imported some of its cool-kid cred to Oakhurst’s relatively tamer drinking and dining scene. At Sceptre Brewing Arts, they’re also crafting and canning their own beer, which is appearing on taps and, soon, retail shelves around town. The restaurant is tucked away at the end of an ignoble strip mall, yet it’s dramatically fronted by a glassed-in brewing room with towering, gleaming fermenters and tanks. The beer list is mostly concerned with what comes out of those tanks—10 to 12 options available in small or regular pours, from a funky-sour cultured peach ale made with Georgia wheat to a signature India cream ale made with Southern corn. The lofty dining room and bar, hung with a light fixture fashioned out of skateboards, has glass garage doors that open onto Sceptre’s finest asset: a capacious, partially covered beer garden. The snacky food is slightly better than much of what you’ll find in Oakhurst (think jars of smoked beet puree, decadent mesquite fries, and a sandwich of velvety, slow-cooked short rib) and makes for a fitting companion to the craft beers. 630 East Lake Drive, Decatur, no phone
Summerhill, wedged between booming Grant Park and ghostly Turner Field, is set to become the city’s next big dining neighborhood, and Wood’s Chapel BBQ is exhibit A. Chef and co-owner Todd Ginsburg (the General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla) has now added wood-smoked barbecue to his repertoire, and with the help of pitmaster Craig Hoelzer, he nails it. The luscious brisket strikes the ideal balance between smokiness and meatiness and appears to be the early star, but you’re best served by ordering the two-meat sampler platter and tacking on a charred and juicy jumble of whole hog (chopped pork). Ginsburg and Hoelzer also earn all the bonus points for including smoked Scottish salmon among the meats, allowing pescatarians to get in on the smokehouse’s action. Sides by chef Wilson Gourley, formerly of 8Arm, include a transcendent buttermilk potato salad and an over-salted (at least on one recent visit) but otherwise solid mac and cheese. Weather permitting, soak up the smokehouse vibes (and smells) on the patio and adjacent Astroturf lawn, decked out with cornhole and Adirondack chairs. 85 Georgia Avenue, 404-522-3000
This article appears in our October 2019 issue.