This article is written as part of the “Away From Here” series where All Things Madison branches outside of our city and explores destinations for residents to explore when they want to get “away from here”. Today we’re exploring 10 restaurants in Decatur, Alabama that are all [spoiler alert!] 100% worth the short trek ASAP!
One of the biggest perks of writing a local niche website is that it gives me the platform to shout from the rooftops to many people about all of the things I discover and really love (and that I want them to discover and really love too!)
And, well, today is one of those days where I’m just giddy to share about some of my recent discoveries in nearby Decatur, Alabama.
I was recently challenged to get out of Madison and explore restaurants in Decatur, Alabama. I had a list of 10 restaurants to explore, nine of them as a first-time guest. I spent about a month plugging these restaurants into my Maps app, only to discover that most of them were just as close (if not closer) than many of our go-to restaurants in Huntsville. In hindsight, I cannot believe my family has been missing out on frequenting them more (we’ve lived here for almost four years!)
While exploring Decatur, we’ve enjoyed some of the best food we’ve had in a really long time, and I’m super pumped to share the ins and out of these 10 Decatur, Alabama restaurant hotspots with you. At each restaurant, I asked an employee to recommend a few of their most popular items that first-time guests should absolutely try. I took their suggestions and can’t wait to tell you my thoughts.
10 Restaurants in Decatur, Alabama You Have to Try
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur
Website | (256) 350-6969
I can’t think of anywhere better to plop down after Sunday church or for a casual weekday meal when you’re craving some good, comfort BBQ. The exterior of the restaurant tells a story that the building has been a tried and true staple for a while and the food was worth a phone call to Dad to tell him all about it.
The employees also could not have been nicer or more passionate about the food they offer. They had a hard time recommending just a few dishes because they believe everything is top-notch (I now agree).
Per their final recommendation, I ordered a Little Bob Gibson Sampler with two meats (pulled pork and beef brisket) with two sides (mac and cheese and turnip greens). I also tried two of their homemade pies, the chocolate and the peanut butter.
Everything was divine, and the smell of the restaurant was Heaven.
Such n Such in Decatur
Website | (256) 686-3598
Anywhere that has a big smoker parked right outside of their restaurant is bound to be a winner in my book, and that’s exactly what I found inside Such n Such.
The menu consists of a variety of unique burgers and tacos, so I heavily relied on the recommendations from an employee about what to order. She suggested a trio of tacos (all different flavors) and the Island burger (a smoked brisket patty stacked with cheese, cinnamon sugar, bacon, grilled pineapple, and J’s red sauce).
I’m all about flavorful food and putting unexpected ingredients together, so Such-N-Such was a huge win for me. I left the restaurant and told no less than 10 friends and family about it that day (I shared about it on my Instagram stories too!)
Oh, and they cater! This one-of-a-kind small restaurant is a good one to put on your “must try” list!
Let’s Do Lunch
Website | (256) 340-1317
Walking in to this restaurant made me smile. It just felt so local, so small town, so quaint. It’s the type of place I am itching to take my mom, a girlfriend, or even my grandmother. The chicken salad flavors are vast, and the sides had me squealing out loud (CORNBREAD CASSEROLE!)
Per their recommendation, I ordered two meals: 1.) their traditional chicken salad on sourdough bread with cornbread salad (!!!) on the side and then 2.) a scoop of cranberry pecan chicken salad with broccoli salad and their famous strawberry pretzel salad on the side.
Everything was phenomenal, and I mean everything. I sampled all of it, took it home, and then continued to eat on it for the next day or so. I can’t wait to come back here and highly recommend it for a lunchtime treat.
The Brick Deli & Tavern
Website | (256) 355-8318
When I think about who I would want to come back to this downtown Decatur staple with, everyone comes to mind because everyone would enjoy this place.
It’s also now home to what my husband now says is “the best sandwich he has ever had in his life”, also known as the “Downtown Hoagie”. I learned that this particular sandwich is a crowd favorite and for good reason: It’s piled high with turkey, ham, salami, smoked cheddar, provolone, onions, pepperoncini, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, mayo, Italian dressing, lettuce, and tomatoes on a long white hoagie roll.
But let’s talk about the Wisconsin beer cheese soup with a side of cornbread. My mouth is salivating just typing this (it’s lunch time…) because it was just amazing. I would take my spoon, slice a piece of the homemade cornbread, and lightly dip it into the soup, and oh my goodness – just delicious. A wintertime staple indeed.
I heard that I couldn’t leave without a scoop of their homemade banana pudding, and who says no to that? (Not this girl.) You can guess the verdict. Two thumbs way up!
Website | (256) 580-5707
When I opened the door to The RailYard, I was immediately drawn to the alluring staircase that leads guests downstairs.
I took a seat at the bar, and my eyes immediately shot to the charcuterie option on the menu. I instantly wished that I had brought a girlfriend with me to sink in at the bar with to nibble on the (crazy affordable) tasty charcuterie board with me while sipping one of their unique cocktails. The bacon chutney and pimento cheese on the board stole the show!
For the entrée I ordered a French dip sandwich because I heard it was a crowd pleaser, and it was. It was cooked to perfection and served piping hot.
The RailYard strikes an incredible balance between a fantastic date night option or just a place to run in and grab a hot sandwich. Both groups would be satisfied and leave happy.
Website | (256) 580-5244
I brought my mom with me to Whisk’D, and though we admittedly had a tough time finding it, it was worth the brief search because we both felt like we’d just discovered our new favorite breakfast or lunch spot.
Whisk’D has it all; The cozy atmosphere coupled with the unique but also somewhat traditional breakfast/brunch/lunch menu makes this a local gem if I’ve ever seen one. We loved Whisk’d so much and left wishing that they would open a location in Madison because it’s a place we’d want to enjoy that frequently.
We heard that the Decatur Omelet and the Breakfast Burger were their claims to fame, and yes, they should be famous. That omelet was hands down the best I’ve ever had, and I mean it. One of the ingredients in it is pimento cheese, which made us scratch our heads at first, but the chef knows what he/she is doing with that one. A++++.
Francesca’s Italian Restaurant
Website | (256) 584-6773
Francesca’s Italian Restaurant is everything a local Italian restaurant should be. The menu is vast, the food is heavenly, and the atmosphere is delightfully traditional.
We started with an order of garlic knots and had to stop ourselves from overindulging on them before our crisp salads arrived. We attempted to save room for the meal that we thankfully shared, which was a trio of pasta portions that we polished off just fine.
Our waitress convinced us that a trip to Francesca’s wasn’t complete without a piece of Tiramisu, and it doesn’t take much to convince me to try some dessert. It was a great suggestion! They had to roll us out of there though. We were stuffed!
Overall we absolutely loved Francesca’s and can’t wait to bring our kids there one day soon since Italian is their favorite food.
Website | (256) 355-5560
Several people were shocked that I’d never heard of JW Steakhouse as I got ready to head out to their Priceville location for dinner right of I-65. All I kept hearing was that their catering is super popular and that their steaks are to die for. I couldn’t wait to try for myself!
It came highly recommended by their staff that I try the 8 oz. bacon-wrapped filet mignon with a loaded baked potato and cheese broccoli. The filet is my favorite cut of beef anyway, so I was excited to try theirs. Sure enough, it was wonderful. The bacon around it was cooked perfectly, and the sear on the top of the steak was perfection.
The restaurant itself is expansive with a large indoor and outdoor area as well as a banquet room. I also enjoyed learning about their extensive bourbon options and how they’ve become quite well known in the area for the stock they keep on hand for bourbon lovers.
JW Steakhouse felt like everything a southern, locally-owned steakhouse should. The employees had so much pride in their restaurant, and the owner was so kind to show me around. We will be back!
Website | (256) 353-6284
I shared on my personal Instagram that I was dining at this beautiful restaurant, and I received dozens of messages from others sharing their absolute adoration for this Decatur staple. It seemed that everyone had a memory of Simp McGhees, whether it be a special anniversary celebrated here, a wedding rehearsal dinner that took place, or it’s simply just the place where they go to enjoy an amazing meal.
I was told that the “Dean’s Delight” is by far their most popular dinner item, which includes a prime tenderloin with gulf shrimp, Cajun alfredo sauce, and pasta. Yum! I wanted to branch out a bit more though and asked about their most popular appetizers. So many were calling my name! I ended up ordering the crawfish eggrolls and tuna tartar. The plating of the dishes was beautiful, which matched the entire aesthetic of the restaurant.
It was easy to see why everyone seems to love Simp McGhee’s so much, and I’m just glad to now know about it myself.
Website | (256) 340-9234
This is the only restaurant out of the list of 10 that I had been to previously, and I’ve been to it several times over the years. It’s hard to believe that with a massive river right near our community, this is the only restaurant right on the water, but it is.
I’m at a loss for words with how to describe Hard Dock. During the summer, it’s the type of place that I’ll come to sit on the outdoor deck that overlooks the water and eat a chicken sandwich and fries while soaking up the sunshine or watching the sunset. It’s a place where people gather to have a good time. They have karaoke on Wednesday nights; It’s “that” kind of place and so much fun. Everybody that I know loves Hard Dock because there’s just nothing like it in the area.
As far as food goes, I took the recommendation of a couple of servers who didn’t steer me wrong. I ordered the crab balls from the appetizer list and the black and blue burger as my entree. My husband had a field day with the crab balls and said they were perfectly cheesy and delicious. The burger did not disappoint either! We know we can always count on Hard Dock as a fun place to settle in and enjoy a light-hearted atmosphere and good food.
This article about restaurants in Decatur, Alabama was written in partnership with Decatur Morgan County Tourism. All opinions are my own.