Decatur, in many respects, is the quintessential small, Southern city. Founded in 1822, it grew steadily for over a century, a typical railroad town over the years developing the quaint charm and comfortable prosperity of many similar cities. It just happens to be a short trip from downtown Atlanta and now boasts one of the best restaurant scenes of any town in the whole country.
In the very middle of Decatur sits the old Dekalb County courthouse, a beautiful Neo-classical building, similar to so many old courthouses that anchor the town square throughout the South. But unlike most other towns, the streets and paths that stretch out from around the courthouse are lined not only with typical offices, apartments and the occasional small business, but also with a slew of restaurants, bars, brewpubs and cafes, many of which have been lauded with national recognition.
The culinary scene is so thriving in Decatur, that even as new restaurants continue to open amidst high praise, old favorites that were some of the first establishments to raise the standards for dining in the area continue to see a line out the door. City favorites like Taqueria del Sol and Twain’s have been open for close to two decades, but they sit comfortably next to recent additions like Revival and Chai Pani. There is a diversity of styles and price ranges to suit any eater and the concentration of restaurants affords residents the option to try something new seemingly every week.
Venture just a half-mile (in any direction) away from the buzz of the city center and you’ll enter the shaded neighborhood streets that make up the heart of this community. Heading south on Candler Road provides one of the best glimpses at the well-rounded ness of the Decatur lifestyle: past the massive magnolias that dot the picturesque campus of the all-women’s Agnes Scott College, stately old mansions lead to Queen Anne cottages and craftsman bungalows. Tucked into these quiet neighborhoods are successful elementary schools and small parks treasured by young and old.
Decatur’s appeal is multi-faceted and multi-generational. Whether as a charming place to retire or a comforting place to start a family, it offers a lot to its residents. So far successfully navigating a delicate balance between past and future, Decatur seems poised to continue thriving as each new generation commits itself to carrying on the city’s unofficial motto: “it’s greater in Decatur!”
There are a lot of neighborhoods, over 40 in all, that fall under the umbrella of the well-known area of Atlanta called Buckhead. And while not all of them boast the multi-million dollar estates that Buckhead is famous for, whether you’re in Brookwood Hills, Peachtree Hills, Garden Hills or Tuxedo Park, you’re guaranteed to get a great quality of life and relatively convenient access to a wide range of food and retail options.
As Peachtree Street winds north out of midtown and crosses I-85, it enters the area often referred to as South Buckhead. Although Peachtree Street is lined with restaurants and businesses, the roads that intersect it often quickly lead into deeply wooded neighborhoods with many towering old trees that provide ample shade. Some of the developers who designed these neighborhoods, like Brookwood Hills, planted many of these trees in the 1920s after the areas were cleared for the new communities. Fortunately, throughout much of Buckhead, the canopy cover has been well preserved, and Buckhead’s neighborhoods are full of hidden away parks that have served to provide solace and delight to generations of Atlantans.
Buckhead began as a rural outpost, where a few of the dirt roads that headed north of Atlanta converged. The legend states that a large buck’s head was mounted on the general store, giving the area its name. In the 1920’s and ‘30s, the area’s rolling hills became popular for the construction of large estates by many of Atlanta’s wealthiest families, beginning the area’s reputation as “the Beverly Hills of the South.” By the 1950s, most of the remaining land had been divided into neighborhoods and the corridors along Peachtree and Piedmont Roads become increasingly commercial. The arrival of one the nation’s first malls, Lenox, in 1959, signaled a turning point for Buckhead as it truly became one of Atlanta’s most prominent business districts.
Since the ‘50s Buckhead has thrived, too much by some accounts, with its nightlife scene becoming a cause for concern in the late 1990s. Although regulations were passed to diminish its late night culture, Buckhead never faltered, redeveloping the Buckhead Village area as one of the south’s premier sites for luxury retailers.
With name cache that spreads far beyond the south, Buckhead is a community that aspires to represent a certain degree of success. It shows no sign of slowing its draw for residents who can lay claim to its prestigious pedigree.