Decatur dissers will have lots more to love to hate this weekend, as what is arguably Atlanta’s most MARTA-friendly drinking and dining destination adds two new restaurants to its walkable little world of culinary wonder.
The Asheville by way of Mumbai Indian street food shop Chai Pani opens its first Atlanta location today in the former Watershed space with a menu featuring snacks, sandwiches, crepes and traditional thalis.
Meherwan Irani, who grew up near Mumbai and learned to cook from his mother, is the executive chef behind the concept and the menu. Meherwan’s wife, Molly, is in charge of the front of the house and the creative design.
Look for signature dishes such as seasoned okra fries and spicy turkey “Sloppy Jai,” beer, wine and specialty drinks, and a vibrant atmosphere that evokes Indian street scenes.
Cardamom Hill chef/owner Asha Gomez, who attended a recent friends and family evening at Chai Pani, is already a fan.
“I love what they’ve done with the look and the feel of the place,” Gomez gushed. “If you have been on the streets of Mumbai, you’ll see these colorful Bollywood posters everywhere. They’ve captured that feel so well, I was transported.
“I’ve been to Asheville and eaten their food and I absolutely love it. I’m addicted to their okra fries. But it’s all amazing street food. Their chaat is awesome, and they do these specials that are great. They put a new a twist on street food without taking away from the authenticity.”
406 West Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, 404-378-4030, facebook.com/chaipanidecatur.
Billed as “A Local Joint,” Native launches with a soft opening this weekend and a grand opening on Monday.
Located in the former Garlic Thai space, Native’s Facebook page describes the menu as “classic seasonal, regional, American comfort food.” At lunch, that translates to soups, salads and shrimp and crab cake sandwiches. At dinner, there’s stuffed flounder, New York strip steak and “drunken brick oven duck.”
The design, which includes a bar, looks to be casual and homey, with cafe tables, lots of wood, a mosaic of re-purposed cabinet doors on the walls, and a front porch facing Ponce.
340 W Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, 404-378-5500, facebook.com/pages/Native-A-Local-Joint/393734660719297.
— Bob Townsend, AJC Food and More blog.