Can a relatively small city in North Alabama really be a foodie destination? Can there really be enough great Decatur Alabama restaurants to make them worth an article here? Ask the locals. They will assure you that it’s true. Great food may be the number one good reason proud locals and hungry folks from miles around clamor to the restaurants in Decatur, Alabama, but when you dig a little deeper, other reasons to visit the city emerge.
History, recreation, arts, economy, civic pride, AND outstanding cooks with prized recipes have blended to make an attractive, vibrant place to live and to visit. While we will touch on these aspects, our primary purpose, as always, is to talk about the restaurants in Decatur, AL.
Since the early settlement along the Tennessee River was dubbed “Decatur” in June of 1820, it has enjoyed the benefits of a superb location. The population and commerce possibilities jumped to a higher level when an important railroad hub was established there. Both the river and the railroad made Decatur such a critical piece of real estate during the Civil War that when the war ended only three buildings were left standing as a result of the fierce and prolonged fighting. Everything else had to be rebuilt by the determined citizens.
Fast forward 150 years and Decatur’s current population is almost 55,000. The river and railroad, along with the added benefit of Huntsville, Alabama’s, International Airport, less than 30 minutes away, make Decatur an attractive place for industry, recreation, and the arts. United Launch Alliance, Nucor Steel, Daikin America, and 3M, along with many small businesses, provide jobs and economic growth to the area. The Tennessee River constantly hums with barges, boats, skiers, and fishermen. Point Mallard Water Park, also along the river, was the first wave pool built in the United States and is a widely popular summertime attraction.
The Alabama Center for the Arts offers degree programs in both visual and performing arts, and the Princess Theatre for Performing Arts, less than a block away, is a treasured venue for concerts, plays, lectures, and films. The building which houses the Princess Theatre was built in 1887 as a horse stable for the Casa Grande Hotel. It was transformed into a theater in 1919 and has undergone several renovations since then. It is easy to imagine the lively vaudeville shows which filled the stage in its early years.
The Cook Museum of Natural History was added to its historic downtown Decatur attractions. Since the opening in the summer of 2019, it is drawing thousands with state-of-the-art exhibits and hands-on, immersive educational experiences.
Several key events draw visitors to Decatur yearly. First is the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic over Memorial Day weekend, and next is the Spirit of America celebration held on the 4th of July.
During that event, a new Miss Point Mallard is crowned, who then becomes a major contender for the title of Miss Alabama. Throughout the year, Bank Street is closed off the third Friday of each month for music, crafts vendors, and car shows.
With so many reasons for visitors to flock to Decatur, it is only natural that great eating establishments have made a name for themselves as well. Some Decatur restaurants have served both residents and visitors for generations, while others are rising stars in the culinary world. All are worth sampling and are eager to welcome hungry diners. So if it’s your first time visiting, below they are listed in order of their appearance in Decatur.
Not in the mood to go out to eat tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver directly from the best restaurants in town to your doorstep.
10 Best Decatur Alabama Restaurants
Big Bob started cooking barbecue for his friends in 1925, while he still worked for the railroad. His smoked meats became so popular that friends suggested he quit his day job and just barbecue full-time. By the early 1950s, he and several family members had joined the effort and opened a storefront near the present location on 6th Ave SE. By 1987, the restaurant’s popularity had grown enough to justify a much larger restaurant next door with a greatly-expanded kitchen.
Their high quality pork and ribs are notable menu choices, but the smoked chicken drenched in white sauce is what put Big Bob over the top in most minds.
The Brunswick stew and gigantic stuffed potatoes are legendary as are the pies with huge mounds of meringue. Coconut and chocolate are the best sellers followed closely by lemon icebox and pecan. These pies are so popular that during a recent Thanksgiving week 725 were baked and sold. The lady who oversees the baking has been arriving every morning at 6:00 a.m. FOR 45 YEARS to create her masterpieces. The recipes have been passed down, so the consistently satisfying tastes remain the same.
Additionally, Big Bob’s grandchildren and grandchildren-in-law have won dozens of major awards in barbecue competitions around the country. The trophies line the walls near the front door. You can’t miss them and will need to be careful not to knock one over. Put this on your must-try local restaurant lists when you first visit Decatur.
Josie’s has a very fortunate location across the street from the Princess Theatre, making it perfect for a date night of dinner and then a live performance or showing of a classic film — while only finding one parking place.
Josie’s is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday and for brunch on Sunday. It is owned by the same couple who owns Simp McGhee.
At Josie’s, they offer a Mediterranean menu, and the restaurant’s name was inspired by a song recorded by the rock group Steely Dan.
As expected with Mediterranean cuisine, you may order pizza, pasta, wraps, salads, paella, tacos, falafel, chicken shawarma nachos, tiramisu, and a limoncello martini, among other less exotic dishes.
We had Chicken Shawarma Nachos for an appetizer, and for an entree, I had the Chimichurri steak frites.
It had so much flavor & the steak was tender enough to cut with a fork! Will definitely be back!!! You’re missing out if you haven’t been yet!
The aroma of Italian herbs and spices have permeated the kitchen and dining room at Alfonso’s since 1977. Dad still comes in every morning to make the sauces, but the restaurant is now in the capable hands of daughter Marie Barbee. The new location features a much larger kitchen and dining room but the same great recipes for pizza, pasta, and salads. That’s good news for the many diners who flock to this landmark Decatur restaurant every day at lunchtime. The lunch special, in particular, are great bargains. I can personally vouch for the Spaghetti Bake available on Tuesdays. It comes with garlic bread and only costs $6.50. So, so good.
Build your own pizza, turn it into a calzone or sample one of the pasta-laden dinners. All are good, but save room for dessert. Cannoli, cheesecake or Coca-Cola cake will be impossible to resist.
Alfonso’s is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday until 10:00 p.m.
725 Bank Street NW // +1 256-353-6284
Open since 1986, Simp McGhee’s is considered by most to be the premier upscale restaurant of Decatur. It is open for dinner only from Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday. Seafood and steaks with the flavor of New Orleans are prominently featured on the lunch menu, but you’ll also find pasta, duck, lamb, and pork.
Live music is scheduled regularly at Simp McGhee’s, but probably the most entertaining association comes from the legend of the restaurant’s namesake, riverboat captain William Simpson (Simp) McGhee. Between daring antics in his boat, frequenting bars with his pet pig and setting up his best girlfriend as the madam of a large brothel, the stories abound. The food is excellent, and the atmosphere is lively, and everything combines to make this a top Decatur, AL restaurant.
No, this popular candy shop is NOT a restaurant, but you will be sorry if you visit Decatur without stopping in to sample some of these specialties. Beginning in 1987, Mary Morgan starting making her daddy’s secret recipe for pralines, and the public responded with cries of “More! More!” The biggest sellers are now English toffee, brittle, and chocolate-dipped cherries, and in the summertime, there is a selection of housemade gelato flavors that will make your taste buds explode.
The beautiful store showcases a wide range of gift items, and you can see into the open candy kitchen. I dare you to come out without a sack full of sweet treats. You will soon see it isn’t all about standard food when you talk about the best places to eat in Decatur.
608 Holly Street NE // +1 256-355-1045
B.B. Perrins was opened in 1988 by hometown sports hero Benny Perrin, who included his brother Braxton as the other “B” in the restaurant’s name. Benny played football, baseball, and basketball at Decatur High School and both football and baseball at the University of Alabama. He played for four seasons in the National Football League before retiring and moving back to Decatur. Sadly, he died in 2017, primarily as a result of the injuries he sustained playing football. However, the sports theme, the loyalty to Alabama football, and the great food remain at B.B. Perrins.
Ribs and wings are probably the most popular and the most notable menu items, but you’ll find many other appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts on the extensive list.
With 20 flat-screen TVs lining the walls, you are sure to catch your favorite team while enjoying a meal at this top Decatur restaurant.
112 Moulton St E, Decatur, AL 35601, United States // +1 256-355
Brick Deli is just around the corner from Josie’s. It is open for lunch on Monday and Tuesday, lunch and supper on Wednesday through Saturday, and closed on Sunday.
Brick Deli is housed in a building that dates back over a century. Before becoming a restaurant, it was an office building and a furniture business, but it was also a speakeasy and a bordello.
Sandwiches, salads, and soups make up the bulk of the menu, and potato salad and banana pudding get rave reviews.
I came in for lunch. I sat at the bar and was quickly served a menu and numerous recommendations.
I ordered the Downtown Hoagie, which came with a fresh hoagie bun and excellent deli meats. The handmade potato salad was really delicious! I hope to visit again the next time I’m in town.
The beer selection was also excellent. They had various local draft alternatives as well as a few national small beers. If you’re in the neighborhood, I highly recommend stopping by!
Owner Tyler Jones and Chef Bill Harden opened in September 2015, and their restaurant is growing in loyal followers and rave reviewers. Describing their menu as “farm-to-fork comfort foods,” they appear to have a finger on the pulse and culinary wishes of Decatur diners. Jones, after all, is a native of Decatur with parents and grandparents who have been actively involved in the town’s many business dealings.
The $4-dollar kids menu choices make this a family-friendly place, and the desserts, such as Kentucky Derby pie and toffee crack pie, sound positively irresistible. For the primary entrees, seafood and steaks are prominent, but the lunch item of Morgan County Tomato Pie is very enticing. An array of creative burgers, sandwiches, and salads are loaded with fresh ingredients, and vegetarians will be happy to see the Black Bean Burger option.
RailYard is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday. Come check out this top Decatur restaurant.
2614 US-31, Decatur, AL 35603, United States // +1 256-686-3598
Anywhere with a massive smoker parked right outside their restaurant is certain to be a winner in my book, and that’s precisely what I discovered inside Such & Such.
Because the menu features various burgers and tacos, I relied primarily on an employee’s advice on what to have. I ordered a trio of tacos labeled Steakhouse, Loco, and Bora Bora.
I also ordered the Island burger, which consisted of a smoked brisket patty topped with cheese, cinnamon sugar, bacon, grilled pineapple, and J’s red sauce.
I’m crazy about tasty meals and combining unusual ingredients, so Such-N-Such was a major hit for me.
I was particularly satisfied with the employee that took our order. She was entertaining and pleasant. Overall, fantastic service! This is a must-see!
725 Beltline Rd SW Suite C, Decatur, AL 35603, United States // +12563517803
Cozy little diner excellent for dining in if you are short on time or to take out for home. Fast and friendly service and unreal tasty sandwiches like I neveer tried before.
If you haven’t tried Apple Lane ham, you’re missing out big time!! Their ham is the best I’ve ever had! It is spiral sliced and glazed, then topped with a delicious blend of what seems to be a cinnamon-sugar spice mixture.
Make sure you try out the Chicken Salad Sandwich, which is their specialty. Chicken salad with craisins, apples, and pecans is served with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a homemade Kaiser roll.
There is also a Veggie Sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar, provolone cheese, bell pepper, cucumber, mayo, and dill weed for the vegans served on wheat berry bread.
Their potato salad is one of the best in town and perfectly pairs with every dish. The menu is extensive, and you can choose more sides with your main dish.
They have the best sweet tea and also have candy chocolate apples which are perfect if you are looking for something sweet and tasty.
Four of these eateries feature items appearing on the list of “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.” All of them will serve you a delicious and satisfying meal (or candy treat) with a heavy dose of Southern hospitality in this “best of” Decatur restaurant.
Visiting other destinations in Alabama? Check out our other guides:
- 8 Best Things To Do In Florence Alabama
- 14 Best Orange Beach Restaurants
- 8 Must-Try Florence AL Restaurants
- 10 Best Alabama Dishes
- 7 Must-Try Huntsville Restaurants
- The 7 Best Things To Do In Huntsville AL
- 10 Must-Try Breakfast Places In Orange Beach AL
- Where to Find The Best Pizza In Orange Beach, Alabama
- 10 Must-Try Birmingham Restaurants
- 7 Must-Try Montgomery Restaurants
Which of these Restaurants in Decatur, Alabama do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.