Districts Deconstructed

by Loren Pratt

The inside scoop on outdoor finds in Oakhurst

JUST AS the letters “O” and “P” are next to each other alphabetically, “Oakhurst” and “porch” have become words that go hand-in-hand. The neighborhood’s early Craftsman style homes set the tone for large porches, and subsequent builders have followed suit by including outdoor living space through the years. Oakhurst has even adopted an annual festival revolving around porches and patios: Porchfest, where its residents’ porches become the stage for local musicians each fall. Just like the surrounding homes, many Oakhurst restaurants offer al fresco dining on patios where neighbors and community connect. With spring in the air, a day in this district means enjoying some of these outdoor spots.

Scepter Brewing Arts

Enjoy the sunshine or, if there’s a chill in the air, snuggle up to a fire pit at this local brewery. With a large outdoor area, you’ll have plenty of room to mill around with your cold draft and test your trivia skills on Tuesday evenings. With an eclectic rotation of draft options from sour IPA to barrel-aged wild ale, one claim to fame is that all are brewed using only local, Southern craft malt and Georgia- grown wheat. Its accompanying food menu has Southern picnic inspired selections that go from small bites to big burgers.

Hours and menus available at sceptrebrewing.com.

Mojo pizza

Universal Joint

If your furry friend is in tow, visit Universal Joint, which touts the “best dog-friendly patio in town.” There’s a palpable energy and buzz at this local watering hole, where locals come to watch their teams on big screens or celebrate their own heroics with their recreation teams. With rotating draft and bottle choices, U-joint lives up to the motto “drinks well with others.” They are said to serve some of the best burgers in town, with 10 variations on a theme including The Steinbeck with its pimento cheese, smoked bacon and pickled jalapeno. A rotation of specials compliments the trusty staples.

More details at ujoint.com.

Mezcalito’s Cantina

As the weather heats up, so will your palate at Mezcalito’s. No chip will be left behind with the salsa, guacamole and cheese dip choices. The menu continues with a large selection of traditional Mexican fare from tacos to tortas to hand-rolled tamales. Finding a favorite is easy with entrée selections such as the melted cheesy goodness of the Chilaquiles, aka Tortilla Lasagna, with its layers of black beans, cheese, tortillas, red and green salsas and optional steak or chicken. The sauce each dish is topped with is the real showstopper, whether it’s green or rojo mole, caper pablano sauce or a creamy goat cheese sauce. This special spot is a watering hole for pups and their people with a pet-friendly patio and an extensive selection of adult beverages. Mezcal and tequila can be tasted in flights or enjoyed in mixed drinks made with hand-squeezed lemons and limes and house-made mixers incorporating fresh juices.

Menu and happenings can be found at mezcalitoscantina.com.

Mojo Pizza N’ Pub

Not a common combination, pizza meets pub and they both meet New Orleans at Mojo. The pizza starts with a unique sesame- seed edge and builds on traditional and NOLA-inspired options. Check out the toppings behind the catchy names, The Mardi Gras is said to be “Fat Tuesday in pizza form” topped with Italian sausage, applewood smoked bacon, green bell peppers, and purple onions. Beyond great food, you’ll have a great time too. Catch Open Mic Nights every first and third Wednesday of the month, and kids eat free on Tuesdays.

Menu and happenings can be found at mojopizznpub.com.

Kavarna Coffee

Kavarna Coffee

There’s nothing average about the cup of joe, or the setting it’s served in, at Kavarna. The local coffee shop takes on other personas such as tavern, music venue and art exhibition space as the occasion permits. As you wait for that cup of goodness (it serves coffees by locally roasted Batdorf/Bronson), find yourself chatting with locals or drawn to the art show featured on the wall. The roomy interior and patio offer space for working or connecting. And for its frequent evening shows, there are great wines to enjoy with the talent.

See the latest at kavarnadecatur.com.

Steinbeck’s

Drinks that zing, food that sparks a conversation and people who care make up this original neighborhood pub. The menu rotates under the direction of Chef Andy Gonzales, who brings an international flare to Southern comfort. Steinbeck’s Sunday brunch has become a rite of passage for beginning or ending a week among locals. Choices include favorites like Fried Chicken and Waffles, or French Toast Bread Pudding or Chinese Breakfast!, a Steinbeck’s staple made from roasted pork belly, wilted leeks, sunny-side-up egg and jasmine rice. The extensive patio wraps around the side where neighbors toast the day with beer, wine or cocktails such as the Oakhurst Bloody or Death in the Afternoon.

Find more details at steinbecksbar.com.

Oakhurst Garden and Wylde Woods

The lush greenspace of Oakhurst Garden and Wylde Woods might be Oakhurst’s best kept secret. Where else can you find a Cobb house (a structure made of clay, straw, mud, sand and water), beehives, a peace pole, pond, art, gardens, chickens and wildlife? Tucked away on the corner of Oakview Drive and S. McDonough, the center began with neighbors coming together to find a solution to the children cutting through one of the yards on their way to school and trampling a garden.

The group invited those same children to become caretakers of another garden, and the result grew into a natural refuge for all ages among a bustling neighborhood. The Wylde Center environmental science and education program has become one of the largest in metro Atlanta and includes Decatur and Atlanta Farm-to-School programs. In addition to community events and educational workshops, find garden plot rentals, volunteer opportunities and a place for dropping off compost.

Learn more at wyldecenter.com.

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