First Look: Chai Pani, Decatur


Chai Pani is one of the hottest restaurants around right now. The Asheville-by-way-of-Mumbai Indian street food shop’s new Decatur outpost has been busy since opening earlier this month in the former Watershed space, boasting a vibrant atmosphere and a menu of snacks, sandwiches, and traditional thalis.

The look: Meherwan Irani, who grew up near Mumbai, 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. Together, they’ve put together an atmosphere that’s both colorful and comfortable — sort of Bollywood-meets-contemporary cool.

The scene: On a recent Sunday evening, there was a line outside long before the doors opened for dinner service. An hour later, the place was packed, and there was a wait for a table. The mix of families, couples and young singles was similar to what you might see at nearby Ponce de Leon fast casual spots, Taqueria del Sol or Farm Burger, except Chai Pani goes full service at dinner.

The menu: Brightly-flavored Indian street snacks (chaat) lead-off Irani’s “mindblasting” offerings, with familiar items like a samosa dressed in chutney ($3.49), and lesser known plates like okra fries tossed in lime and spices ($6.99). Among the Indian sandwiches and wraps, served with a side, look for the Sloppy Jai ($9.99), a Sloppy Joe take with spiced lamb hash. Recent traditional thali meal specials include saag paneer ($16.99) and pork vindaloo ($17.99).

The drinks: The full bar features an imaginative selection of cocktails, craft beer in bottles and on draft, and wines by the glass or bottle. A whiskey sour ($9) is mixed with fresh lime, Kashmiri chili powder, simple syrup and egg white. A recent beer list included several selections from Asheville’s Highland Brewing Co., including Gaelic Ale and Oatmeal Porter ($5).

The extras: The “Little People” menu ($1.99-$4.99) offers kid-friendly takes on Indian food with the likes of rice and daal, cheese and tomato uttapam, and, of course, chicken fingers.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Food

Curry Up Now picks first metro Atlanta locations and other dining news from the week
Curry Up Now picks first metro Atlanta locations and other dining news from the week

A popular San Francisco-based Indian chain has chosen its first metro Atlanta locations. Curry Up Now is slated to open at 1555 Church St. by the end of the year, with more locations to follow at Madison Yards on Memorial Drive in Reynoldstown and The Interlock on Howell Mill Road in West Midtown. Franchisee Hemant Suri, who recently sold Midtown Tavern...
Celebrate Oktoberfest with Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest 2018
Celebrate Oktoberfest with Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest 2018

Oktoberfest officially begins on Sept. 22 this year, with Atlanta’s Der Biergarten kicking off its downtown Atlanta celebration at noon on Saturday.  But there will be many more events later this month and into October all around Atlanta, including at Brick Store Pub, New Realm Brewing and Historic Old Fourth Ward Park. And in honor of the...
The Barrelhouse is opening in Old Fourth Ward Monday
The Barrelhouse is opening in Old Fourth Ward Monday

A bar formerly located in Midtown is set to make its debut in Old Fourth Ward next week. The Barrelhouse, which was located at 22 5th St. NW at Tech Square for seven years, is opening Monday in a space previously occupied by Cast Iron, which closed earlier this year. The 2,500 square-foot space will seat 104 guests total, with 68 seats in...
Check out the menu for Ramen Station, now open in Grant Park
Check out the menu for Ramen Station, now open in Grant Park

Ramen Station, the restaurant from the team behind several other Atlanta restaurants, is finally open in Grant Park. The eatery opened its doors yesterday in Larkin on Memorial at 519 Memorial Drive SE in Grant Park. The menu features several starters including steamed buns, skewers, musubi and potato croquettes; five different kinds of ramen with...
Atlanta Bread in Smyrna offers free coffee and pastries, $5 sandwiches through Sunday 
Atlanta Bread in Smyrna offers free coffee and pastries, $5 sandwiches through Sunday 

Atlanta Bread is celebrating a new look at its Smyrna location with a slew of dining deals.   Guests can enjoy $5 flatbread sandwiches today and receive a complimentary cup of soup with any purchase tomorrow, Sept. 22. The aforementioned offers are valid all day. On Sunday, Sept. 23, the first 25 guests in line will receive an Atlanta Bread gift...
More Stories