An early outpost of Buffalo-style hot wings, in recent times Taco Mac has become better known as a sports bar, serving up craft beer and nachos, along with a whole lot of HD TVs. But Atlanta-based TM Restaurant Group is trying something a little different with Taco Mac Sports Grill. The recently renamed, renovated and reopened Taco Mac space in Decatur was transformed by ai3, the Atlanta firm know for creative restaurant designs for Gunshow, Miller Union and Seed Kitchen & Bar.
The look: The bar and dining areas are still oriented around sports and beer, but the atmosphere is decidedly more subtle and contemporary. Thin bezel TVs are suspended in profile above tables and leather upholstered booths. A stainless steel wall displays 100 draft beer taps of varied colors, shapes and sizes. The sprawling terrazzo-topped bar is backed by a matching communal table, and the pale wood flooring was reclaimed from a gym.
The scene: One evening last week, the animated crowd was eager for a look at all the changes. At the bar, one man remarked, "Who knew a Taco Mac could look so sexy?" Around the dining room, servers minded several families with young children, who sprinted back and forth between tables and the adjacent arcade game room.
The food: The core menu is still wings ($6.75-$43.65) with a choice of flavors and extras, plus burgers ($8.65-$9.45) and Mexican-style plates ($7.95-$13.75). But a few new offerings have followed from the new design. Crunchy hand-breaded chicken tenders ($8.35) come with a choice of sauce and side. T.Mac guacamole ($5.95/$7.95), made fresh daily, also comes on the new Santa Fe burger ($9.25) with pepper jack and pico de gallo.
The drinks: Along with 100 draft beers, the bar has 75 beers by the bottle. Recent offerings included Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Belgian-style IPA, Leinenkugels Big Eddy Imperial IPA, Sweetwater Crank Tank Lager and Starr Hill Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter.
The extras: For a bit of seating fun, there's a circular six-top spinning booth. And when it's warm, there's a cozy new covered patio that looks out on Ponce de Leon Avenue.