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Guide

The Casual Weeknight Dinner Guide

14 great spots for a low-key weeknight meal in Atlanta.

Written by
14 Spots
Launch Map
14 Spots
Launch Map

Maybe you’re too exhausted to cook because of last night’s anxiety dream about a video conference malfunction during a job interview, or your best friend asked to catch up and neither of you wanted to clean enough to host. You want a good meal, but not one that requires much effort. That’s when you head to one of the spots on this guide - where you won’t have any trouble getting a table, the food is good but still reasonably priced, and you can show up in whatever you’re already wearing.

the spots

Mia Yakel

Nina & Rafi

$$$$
$$$$ 661 Auburn Ave NE

Pizza and weeknights might fall into cliche territory, but like wide-brimmed floppy hats and lifestyle bloggers, some things are destined to be together forever. This Old Fourth Ward pizza spot is good for the classic options, but it also has a lengthy menu of inventive specialty pies and a solid chicken parm. Grab a Detroit-style pie - the thick crust will hold up best when you bring the leftovers for lunch the next day.

The Colonnade Restaurant

$$$$
$$$$ 1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE

One way we’ve found to entertain ourselves on painfully long conference calls is to plan out the combination of sides we’re going to get with our fried chicken dinner at The Colonnade. With more than 30 options ranging from fried okra to black-eyed peas, you’ll have a lot of possibilities to keep you occupied. This family-style dining hall has been around since 1927, so it’s fortunately not going anywhere. Unfortunately, neither are those endless conference calls.

Chai Pani

$$$$
Indian  in  Decatur
$$$$ 406 W Ponce de Leon Ave

When you look down at your phone midday and see 45 messages in your group chat about a dinner you already (regrettably) committed to, instead of deciding to find new friends, suggest Chai Pani. This place has large tables, fast service, and a menu of Indian street snacks meant to be shared, like matchstick okra fries and puffed rice crisps either stuffed with potatoes or rolled in sweet yogurt and tamarind chutney. Keep your friends around for now, since you’ll want a group to try as much of the menu as you can. Just turn that afternoon text thread into a group dinner brainstorm.

Eats

$$$$
American  in  Midtown
$$$$ 600 Ponce de Leon Ave NE

This spot has been a go-to for a quick and affordable dinner on Ponce since it was still acceptable to refer to the city as Hotlanta. On one side of the restaurant, there’s a counter for meat-and-two options, where the best deal is the jerk chicken with rice and beans. On the other side is the pasta counter, where you can mix-and-match different pastas and sauces - though, if you’re not in the mood to make decisions, you can’t go wrong with the turkey lasagna. Your meal will likely be less than $10 and ready before you’re even done paying, so grab your tray and find a booth by a window.

Andrew Thomas Lee

We’re guessing you weren’t able to fit curing meats, brewing beer, and growing your own produce into this week’s schedule. Luckily, this brewpub, located in the basement of a historic mansion in Little Five Points, has mastered all of those things so you don’t have to. Their vegetable plate is always great and changes based on whatever they’re currently pulling from the ground at their own farm just outside of town. Or you could go more of the pub route with mini corn dogs and a pastrami sandwich.

Ginya Izakaya

$$$$
JapaneseRamenSushi  in  West Midtown
$$$$ 1700 Northside Dr NW #A5

The menu at this tapas-style Japanese pub can be a little overwhelming. There are multiple sections and pictures of the dishes, and you’re going to want to try almost everything. We like to get a few things from the sushi and sashimi side of the menu, along with a few different skewers, like the chicken yakitori and asparagus and bacon. This place is super reasonably priced, especially if you come with a few people willing to share everything. Though if you really just aren’t up to decisions, make things easy and go with a bowl of ramen.

Amy Sinclair

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

$$$$
$$$$ 1238 Dekalb Ave NE

Maybe it’s just us, but we’ve never been comfortable having people wish us a “happy Hump Day” at work. We’re thinking of rebranding it instead as Wing Wednesday, but mostly because it gives us an excuse to go to Fox Brothers for their smoked wings. Bring a few of the coworkers you actually like, argue over how many wings to get, and then try a few of their many beers. Next week, try just wishing people a “happy Wednesday,” because unlike Scott the koala, the office mascot, not everything needs a name.

Nuevo Laredo Cantina

$$$$
$$$$ 1495 Chattahoochee Ave NW

People say that nothing beats a home-cooked meal, but those people probably aren’t squinting to read a never-ending stream of late-in-the-day Slack messages, while simultaneously tearing up trying to chop onions. Rather than relying on your multitasking skills, just give your complete focus to the homestyle Mexican food at Nuevo Laredo Cantina. Their chicken mole, brisket barbacoa, and lobster tacos deserve your attention more than a colleague’s “quick follow-up” about that thing you said in a meeting three days ago.

Gavin Guidry

Bocado

$$$$
$$$$ 887 Howell Mill Rd NW

First dates and business dinners in the middle of the week call for something nicer than fast casual salads, but not quite “internal panic attack when the check comes”-nice. Bocado on the Westside is somewhere in the middle. You’ll find elevated versions of Southern favorites alongside salads, roast chicken, and a perfect burger stack. It’s an impressive spot that won’t make you look like you’re trying too hard.

Snackboxe Bistro

$$$$ 6035 Peachtree Rd Ste C114

After your third lunch of a turkey and “whatever condiment in the fridge isn’t expired” sandwich this week, you became determined to make sure at least one dinner is able to break the Groundhog Day streak of blandness you’re currently on. Snackboxe Bistro, a Lao street food spot in Doraville, is one of the best solutions. The wings and nam khao crispy coconut rice are two of the best options, but make sure to “accidentally” order too much food so you’ll have something exciting to bring for lunch tomorrow.

Minero

$$$$
$$$$ 675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE

Ponce City Market is filled with an overwhelming number of places to eat, to the point where choosing one feels a bit like playing restaurant roulette. If you walk in one direction, you’ll end up at a burger place, and if you go the other way, an Indian spot. But rather than leave it to chance, just go to Minero for some great tacos and a cocktail instead. We like the al pastor, the wings, or the huge $10 burrito, which should cover you for at least two meals. And in case you spent too much time in a desk chair inside today, Minero is one of the few restaurants at PCM with access to the outdoor patio.

One Eared Stag

$$$$
$$$$ 1029 Edgewood Ave NE

We’re big believers in celebrating the tiny victories. So when your office surprise-installs cold brew on draft, take the money you saved by not buying coffee all week and go to One Eared Stag. Stick with a few of the hot and cold starters, like the dumpster salad with bacon and fried bread, because the entrees can get pricey. They also do family-style fried chicken dinners, which are the best excuse to get out on a Monday night. Or you can always order the “meatstick” too, their gigantic secret menu burger. Finishing the whole thing will be a tiny victory in itself.

Sarah Dorio Photography

The wood-paneled walls and fake ’90s cigarette ads make this neighborhood spot feel like a casual hang in the fallout bunker bar your friend’s survivalist dad built. And if you’ve been in the office so long you’re not sure what day it is, they make it easy to keep track with their consistent nightly specials like Snow Crab Mondays, Prime Rib Tuesdays, and Fried Chicken Wednesdays.

Hannah Lozano

Taqueria del Sol

$$$$
$$$$ 2165 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE

There’s nothing like a bowl of jalapeno-spiked queso and a pulled pork taco to help you forget about the six hours of mind-numbing new software training you had to sit through today. Bring someone who won’t mind your complete silence while you wait for the food to come. They understand that the crunch of tortilla chips has been medically proven to restore feeling in your right brain.

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