Chai Pani Decatur
I crave Indian food all the time. Ever since my trip to India a couple of years ago, my eyes were opened to the wonders of Indian cuisine. One of the things I miss most is the street food in Mumbai. Back when I was in college I used to frequent an all-you-eat type Indian buffet. I thought I was so cultured because I was eating tikka masala with naan. Now I've realized the complexity and diversity of Indian cuisine makes it difficult to fit it all into one box called "Indian Food." Anyway I love it, so when I miss it I will make the long drive to Atlanta to get my fix (no more buffets for me).
The charming city of Decatur, with it's ITP yet still OTP feel, has a strong Indian population. It is also rich in culinary culture which attracts both the gastronomically hip and the culinary purists. There are many Indian restaurants in Decatur but one of my favorites is Chai Pani. Chai Pani is a fun and bright little spot in Decatur that attracts both bubbly, social media posting foodies and Indian locals for mainly street and family style dishes.
It's a no-nonsense dining spot with counter ordering and self-serve service during lunch hours. The servers are nonchalant but still friendly hipsters. They also have fun daily specials and a kid-friendly menu (the boys got themselves some masala potato chips and cheese & tomato uttapam). I enjoy the thali menu and for a couple of bucks you can get unlimited amounts of super serious masala chai (strong and intense just like I had at a chai shop). You can help yourself to the super fresh house-made chutneys and raita they serve in squeeze bottles too.
I took my grandmother who was visiting from Korea to try something "different" for her. Our table was spread out with bhel puri that disappeared in seconds, the non-veg thali, a variety of uttapams, Bombay style potato sammies served with a side of that super yummy curry flavored Indian ketchup (I freaking love Indian ketchup so much I bought like 10 bottles and brought it back home with me). We ordered extra roti and pappadam to clean the last bit daal and basmati off our plates. I love that they have containers of achaar at each table. So potent and pungent, just writing this is making me salivate at the salty puckery goodness of it.
Needless to say I got my fix- for now.