Decatur and Priceville are blessed with some wonderful locally owned restaurants, cafes and diners that serve up dishes the rest of the country can only dream about. Let’s take a stroll through the alphabet to give you a sampling of what the menus at each place might have in store for hungry diners.
A – Acai Bowl at Nature’s Table inside the Cook Museum of Natural Science. This world-class museum focusing on the wonders of nature, animals, insects, marine life and the like offers a café with fresh, healthy ingredients. Wraps, sandwiches, salads and protein bowls are available until 3:00 p.m., while smoothies and Acai bowls can be ordered all day. Go, check out this incredible treasure in Decatur, and plan to stay for lunch or a refreshing treat.
B – Bunnies Covered in Chocolate at Morgan Price Candy. The bunnies would make a nice Easter treat, but don’t dare leave without sampling some of the famous English toffee or pralines in their beautiful 6th Avenue location. If you’re needing a gift idea, look no further. Morgan Price has you covered – deliciously.
C – Coconut Cream or Chocolate Pie at Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ. Of course, the barbecue at Big Bob’s has won championship trophies in contests all over the country, but the pies are in a class all their own as well. Coconut and chocolate are probably the most popular, followed closely by lemon icebox and pecan. The meringue is a mile high. You’ll be glad you tried it.
D – Decatur Omelet or a Dutch Baby at Whisk’d Cafe. The Decatur Omelet incorporates some of the famous white sauce unique to Decatur style barbecue, and the Dutch Baby is like a pancake that is baked rather than fried. These are just two of the interesting breakfast or brunch choices at Whisk’d. This neighborhood eatery which is currently on Grant Street will soon move to a new location in the building where Curry’s was at the corner of Johnston Street and 1st Avenue.
E – Egg Salad at Let’s Do Lunch. Egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, strawberry pretzel salad, Watergate salad, grape salad — you name it. Let’s Do Lunch has some great lunch choices for carry-out or dine-in. They will also sell these salads by the pint or quart if you have more than yourself to feed.
F – Farm Dog at Downtown Dawgs. Choose a white, wheat or poppyseed bun, beef, turkey or Polish sausage for your hot dog and your favorites from 25 possible toppings at Downtown Dawgs on Moulton Street. It happily claims the title of Decatur’s ONLY hot dog joint but has recently expanded its menu beyond hot dogs. Go by and check them out.
G – Greek Salad at Josie’s. Josie’s, across from the Princess Theatre on 2nd Avenue, has a decidedly Mediterranean menu with pizza, flatbreads, pasta dishes, wraps, and bocadillos. In case you’re wondering, a bocadillo is a sandwich which originated in Spain and is usually made with Spanish bread or a type of baguette. Sounds yummy to go with that Greek salad.
H – Honey BBQ Wings at Scrugg’s BBQ on Highway 20. The smells of pulled pork, chicken, ribs and brisket fill the air, so you’ll certainly want to sample a plate or two. Don’t leave, however, without a slice of their famous caramel cake. So rich and delicious!
I – Iced Sugar Cookie’s at Mel’s Sweet Treats at Funland Park. Iced Sugar Cookies are actually only one of the 36 varieties of cookies and bars offered at Mel’s. They also have 7 great-sounding sandwiches for dine-in or carry-out.
J – Jalapeno Ranch Dip at Casa Santiago Mexican Grill. Casa Santiago on Spring Avenue offers all the expected Mexican items, but that Jalapeno Ranch Dip caught my eye as something special. I bet it’s worth a try.
K – Key Lime Cheesecake or a Kolache at Cheesecakes and More. Cheesecakes and More on Somerville Road tempts its customers with 20 varieties of cheesecakes, a dozen different cakes, and at least 2 dozen cookie and treat choices. You can also pick up one of their made-to-order sandwiches.
L – Lemon Pound Cake at Nash BBQ. Nash BBQ is convenient to guests staying at the hotels on the Beltline or to locals, of course. In addition to great barbecue, they offer a catfish filet meal or sandwich that receives rave reviews, just in case you want a meal to go with your pound cake.
M – Million Dollar Wings at b.b. Perrins. Benny Perrin, the originator of b.b.Perrins was a football star at the University of Alabama before playing for the St. Louis Cardinals for 4 years. He came back to Decatur and opened his sports grill in 1988. The University of Alabama has a marching band they refer to as the Million Dollar Band. That is undoubtedly where the name for these wings is derived.
N – Nachos Supreme at Tio Juan Mexican Grill. Tio Juan is located on 6th Avenue. Tamales, Flautas, Chalupas, Huevos Rancheros and more await diners at Tio Juan.
O – Onion Rings at Such n Such. Such n Such on Highway 31 S is a relative newcomer, at least in this location. It specializes in burgers and tacos, with burgers such as an Island Burger or a Heart Attack and tacos such as Bora Bora and The Samuel. In addition to the onion rings, you will also find island slaw, smoked mac and cheese or black beans and corn.
P – PB & J Bacon Burger at Bank Street Grill. Bank Street Grill has a name that fits its address and is right in the middle of great shopping, so it’s a logical place to stop for lunch or dinner. The PB & J Burger is eye-catching, for sure, but what about Deep-fried Reuben Rolls, Bacon-wrapped Quail Breast or a Hot Pepper Jelly and Cream Cheese Burger. Whether you want something unusual or normal, I believe Bank Street Grill will have you covered.
Q – Queen Size Funnel Cake at Funnel Cake Queen. If your appetite isn’t too hefty, or if you don’t have a friend to share with, a Princess size is also available. This is a relatively new business on the Beltline, but it is already drawing a large, loyal following. Funnel Cake Queen is open from 12:00 to 9:00 Tuesday through Saturday. Be prepared to wait, but your hot off the press funnel cake topped with whipped cream, ice cream, fruit or candy will be worth every minute – and calorie.
R – Ravioli Bake at Alfonso’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant. After decades in its old location on 6th Avenue, Alfonso’s is now in a gleaming new spot on the Beltline. As the name implies, Alfonso’s provides great pizza and pasta choices, and its daily lunch specials are extremely budget friendly.
S – Swiss & Mushroom Burger at JW Steakhouse in Priceville on HIghway 67. Steaks are the headliners, but shrimp, salmon, burgers, and chicken also appear on the menu. They are closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday but open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday.
T – Tuna Filet, Tuna Burger or Tuna Steak Salad at Hard Dock. Hard Dock has a coveted location overlooking the bridge and the Tennessee River at the Boat Harbor on Highway 31. Catfish and crawfish dishes add to the water-themed atmosphere, but burger and chicken lovers will find plenty, also.
U – Uncommonly Good Hushpuppies at Libby’s Catfish & Diner on Highway 67 in Priceville. Libby’s serves a great breakfast but seems to excel with fried catfish, oysters, popcorn shrimp, ribeyes and sirloins. The basket of hushpuppies which is delivered to your table will make it hard to save room for the rest of your meal, so pace yourself. They are some of the best hushpuppies in Morgan County.
V – Vintage Burger at C. F. Penn Hamburgers in its new location on 6th Avenue near Central United Methodist Church. I call it a Vintage Burger because Penn’s has been serving its deep-fried version since 1927. It has even been said that Elvis Presley used to send a driver to pick up a bag full of onion-filled delights. The menu is small, but the loyal following is large.
W – Winston’s Catch at Simp McGhee’s. Simp McGhee’s is one of the most upscale of Decatur’s restaurants. It serves dinner only from Monday to Saturday. The menu combines the flavors of New Orleans and Decatur to satisfy discriminating tastes. Winston’s Catch is described as fresh fish served with roasted vegetables and lemon beurre blanc.
X – Xango at Don Alejo. Okay. I admit it. There was not a single dish in Decatur beginning with the letter X, so for this one, you’ll have to drive the short distance to Hartselle. A Xango is a Cheesecake Chimichanga so you are likely to find something similar in Mexican restaurants in Decatur but go ahead and give this Hartselle location a try.
Y – Yankee Burger at The RailYard. The RailYard is a Tyler Jones restaurant on 2nd Avenue with culinary creations from Chef Paul Pfeil. Jones is a Decatur native, so he knows what Morgan County people enjoy. The Yankee Burger features bacon, gruyere cheese, grilled portobello and crispy onions. A gaze at the entire menu is sure to make your mouth water. The RailYard is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Z – Ziti Campagnoli at Francesca’s Italian Restaurant on Highway 31 S. This Ziti dish is made with homemade pasta. Start your meal with Abruzzi Bread and finish with Tiramisu, and you can easily pretend you’re in Italy. Francesca’s is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
If you’ve lived in Decatur all your life, I hope you’re saying to yourself: “I have GOT to get out and try some of these dishes I’ve never ordered before.” Decatur truly does have something to please everyone in the eating category.
Connie is a freelance travel/food writer and blogger at www.theregoesconnie.com. She and her veterinarian husband, Steve, live in Hartselle and share 14 fantastic grandchildren. Previously, Connie was a public school music teacher in Hartselle and Morgan County, and they served as Southern Baptist missionaries in Ecuador for four years. In her blog and for other publications, Connie loves discovering the restaurants, history, culture, art, music and accommodations of the places where she travels that reflect the uniqueness of a destination. She and Steve especially enjoy sharing the activities and attractions of Morgan County with their grandchildren during their annual Cousins Camp.