On the edge of the eerie Tudor-themed planned community of Avondale sits the James Joyce Irish Pub. Kin to Little Five Points' Brewhouse, the James Joyce offers a patio, friendly servers, plenty of pints -- including some Belgian-style brews (try cherry-tinged Three Philosophers for the ladies) -- and Scotch/Irish whiskies in an environment more low-key than intown patio bars filled with pound-for-pound swillers. The food -- cockles-warming fare improving on Irish pub grub -- is decent, too, especially stew and fish dishes.
Closer to the action at Decatur's square is my dear Brickstore Pub, offering a rustic retreat for fans of the hops and the malts. More crowded, yes. More yuppie, sure. More beer for your buck, undoubtedly. Rochefort 10, Westmalle Dubbel, St. Bernardus Abt. 12 -- these beers offer flavor as deep as the contentment you'll find yourself cradled in.
Of course, these cats tend to want to curl up early, so Azul is the destination du jour for the post-2 a.m. set. The narrow lounge located to the left of Raging Burrito, Azul hosts the Decatur Social Club every Friday till 4 a.m. Get shoulder to shoulder and throw them bows to a glam slam of indie and '80s from Preston Craig and crew, the mouths behind "*KISS*."
For a bustling bliss out, there's always Carpe Diem. While the hours are more conservative than Azul, the energy influx is eclectric. At the base of the Icehouse Lofts, Carpe Diem bridges the contemporary and the casual. Carpe Diem offers pleasures both steely and touchy-feely, with sleek soaring lines meeting low-slung comfort furnishings filled by equally glossy bodies soaking in downtempo tunes and stylish libations. Sunday offers up S.I.N. (Service Industry Night), open to all until 3 a.m.
In terms of the week, Sunday is where it's out with the old, in with the new -- or, "in da nu." Once a month on an early Sunday evening, Endenu, a Marietta Street restaurant/entertainment facility, hosts Strawberry Sundaze, a showcase for independent neo-soul artists organized by Metroya Antoinette's Hazel Eyez promotions company.
Inside the autumnal structure -- with its exposed brick, lodgelike wooden accoutrements and babbling brook (a work of wonder, the glass-topped bar has a stream running down its roughly hewn length) -- patrons perched with their backs against the curling corners of wrought iron chairs twisted into smiling faces.
On Sun., Aug. 22, first up was the quartet Shanti Om, whose prowling bass pulse was augmented at times by the chiming of fingers playing a scat symphony on a calimba, and the undulation of a didgeridoo swaying heads and hands. Up next was singer Salakida, packing a big voice in a little body performing acoustic guitar-accompanied tales of everyday doldrums' escape with a sound between Tracy Chapman and India.Arie. Finally to the stage was Metroya herself. With a voice as robust as her presence, she inspired all with songs soaring with aching independence wrapped in a message to stand for something or get nothing.
For those looking to be spiritually uplifted -- as there are as many blessings and testimonials bestowed as at any church -- count the daze till Sept. 26.
Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to firstname.lastname@example.org.