Hate going to the grocery store? Me too? It’s not that I hate buying food — I love shopping for food and I get really excited when I see the possibilities of what I could cook and eat from gorgeous fresh foods. It is just that I hate the impersonal service and the vastness of grocery stores – they are boring. I have decided it is time to start shopping the European way – buying what I need for a few days, while visiting a few purveyors that specialize in certain types of foods. This type of pleasant shopping experience is possible in Decatur. Here are some examples of places that will allow you to enjoy the food shopping experience.
This store is just the right model for urban food shopping. Whether you need items for dinner preparation, or want to find some ready-made food items, need a sandwich for lunch, or just need a snack – this is the place. They carry a well-rounded assortment of high quality, fresh, whole foods, as well as a nice assortment of house made prepared foods. You’ll find very pretty, fresh vegetables, cheeses, milk, bread, fish, meat, deli items, beer & wine, olive oil, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, chips – almost everything you might need to eat well. The meat counter is large and the quality is exceptional. One of the things I love about the meat counter is that I can order special cuts of meat and they will have it ready for me when I need it. For Easter I ordered a large 3-4 lb. side of salmon that I poached for a very special dinner. This special order feature is especially convenient for special occasions or holidays when you need a crown rib roast, a ham, or other specialty cuts.
The other lovely feature of this store is that they will prepare lunch or dinner for you. There’s a variety of sandwiches and even pizzas that they prepare on sight. For dinner, I love picking up a ready-made, hot dinner that is available Monday thru Thursday nights. A weekly menu is posted, you call by 2:00 pm to order, then pickup your dinners after 5:00 pm. The dinners are nicely packed in reheatable containers and the servings are ample. Most times when I have retrieved my order, the food was warm so not even reheating was necessary. Oops, if you forget to order, no problem — you can take your chances with the “grab and go” counter where you self-serve a prepared protein, starch, and/or vegetable into a to-go container and haul it home.
(Oakhurst Market is located in Oakhurst Village on East Lake Drive.)
La Calavera Bakery
Just walking into this tiny bakery is a heady experience. As soon as you open the door, you are bombarded with smells of deliciousness. Does anything smell better than baking bread, or chocolate babkas, with a background note of fresh brewed coffee? The bread and pastries vary from day to day – too bad, you may have to make regular trips to taste all their offering. Stacked in trays on shelves waiting for you to pick them up (with tongs) and place them on a metal tray are the day’s baked offerings. Once you have made the hard choice and placed the items on your tray, you can dive right in (there are a few tables and chairs available for eating in, along with a nice assortment of teas and coffee); or you can have one of the friendly staff members bag your goodies up for your trip home. There are always 3 or more types of breads – sourdough, sprouted wheat, olive and rosemary. The assortment of pastries is sinfully tempting – Danish, empanadas, croissants, pan dulce, ginger piggy cookies, oh my. This place is so good that my teenage grandsons will get out of bed at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning to go with me to pick out breakfast pastries.
(The bakery is located at 747 E College Ave. near the Avondale Marta station.)
Decatur Organic Farmer’s Market
On Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings you can spot a yard full of little white tents on the lawn at the First Baptist Church on Clairemont Avenue. This is the scene of the Decatur Organic Market where local farmers and food purveyors offer their goods to the lucky customers that get there early enough to get the good stuff. You will find plenty of super fresh veggies, gem-like fruit, rich orange-yolked eggs, and organic meats to take home for dinner preparation. Don’t want to cook? That’s okay because you can pick up plenty of prepared foods such as cheeses, breads, jellies, honey, pastries, salsas, tamales, soups, granola, Belgian waffles, and even some doggie treats. This wonderful food festival brings out plenty of friendly neighbors towing kids, dogs and smiles. It is a good way to really get a feel for what Decatur is about. Come hungry.
Other Food Shops
There’s even more ways to enjoy small shopping for food in Decatur. At Splash of Olive you can find a huge variety of olive oils, both plain and flavored, as well as vinegars. Not sure what you want – you can taste each and every one of them before buying.
Need wine? – Sherlock’s Wine Merchant, Wahoo Wine & Provisions, and Greene’s Fine Foods offer great selections and affordable prices, with personalized service from knowledgeable staff members. At all three shops you will also find other food temptations such as sausages, cheeses, pastas, and condiments at Wahoo; and candy, nuts, fudge and condiments at Greene’s. All three are great places to buy gifts.