The Casual Weeknight Dinner Guide

8 great spots for a low-key weeknight meal in Atlanta.
The Casual Weeknight Dinner Guide image

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Maybe you’re too exhausted to cook because of last night’s dream about a Zoom malfunction, or you’ve just had enough of your own four walls. 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.


photo credit: Amy Sinclair


East Atlanta

$$$$Perfect For:Dining SoloDrinks & A Light BiteCasual Weeknight Dinner
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Weeknight dinners don’t get more casual than this restaurant, which sits on the backend of a brick building shared by a mini market and a CBD store. So when we want to feast on tasty beef bulgogi or braised pork belly in an oversized T-shirt, we head to Gaja Korean Bar in EAV. A massive concrete wall backdrops the space that’s lit up by mustard yellow neon lights and dotted with a handful of tables and booths. But the real selling point is that nothing on the menu at this Korean small plates spot is more than $15. You don’t have to sacrifice taste to wear sweats, and you’ll spend less than it costs to park at most other ATL restaurants. What are you still doing reading this?

Boxcar is the West End’s answer for a relaxed lunch date or BeltLine break. The Lee + White development, as a whole, promotes a chill, dog-friendly environment, and this American kitchen specifically cooks up a menu of unfussy sandwiches and plates that consistently works. The Philly cheesesteak-esque Butcher’s Bun works after a long day at the virtual office. The Livingston burger (dry-aged beef and cheddar on a potato bun) and fries are perfect foods to nibble during a friend’s impromptu venting session on the patio. Oh, and there are nearly 80 drafts on tap to wash all the mess down with.

After a tough work day, the last thing you need are more decisions to make. The food hall at Politan Row in Colony Square is full of hard, equally appetizing choices—from pho to curry shrimp patties, so let's make an executive decision. Head to Zaddy’s, which takes your usual sub favorites to new heights with brilliant flavor combos that we've never previously imagined between two slices of bread. The Cajun lemon pepper tuna sandwich and carrot cake bread pudding is our favorite meal to turn your midweek mentality from “f&ck it all” to “it’s almost Friday.” And with an array of table options, you can decide if the day calls for fresh air on the patio or a comfy sofa seat by the bar.

photo credit: Botica



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After suffering through a late-afternoon meeting that could’ve been a Slack message and fighting 285 traffic, dinner shouldn’t add to your list of headaches. Botica, a Spanish-Mexican restaurant in Buckhead with a lively, family-friendly atmosphere, is an easy choice to grab a quick, satisfying dinner. The place embodies the same charm as your life-of-the-party cousin who’s adamant about bringing everyone together. Start with the tangy halibut ceviche. Then order the solid tacos even picky eaters will dig—tender carne asada, lamb birria, and chicken shawarma. Grab a seat on the always-packed, colorful patio, which is one of our favorite places in Buckhead to take a load off and people watch. 

Eats 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” (any users of the nickname are hereby prohibited from going anywhere else in the city but The Varsity). When you walk up to the counter, you’ll be hit with a host of meat-and-two options, but the best deal is the jerk chicken with rice and beans. Though the pasta counter was a pandemic casualty, you can still order chicken lasagna any day of the week and chicken ziti alfredo on Thursdays and Saturdays. Your meal will likely be less than $12 and ready before you’re even done paying, so grab your tray and find a booth by a window.

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 clock out at 4:59pm and head to Candler Park’s Fox Brothers.  It's one of the best barbecue joints in the city, but it's also where we want to end a hard day of work—with the welcoming embrace of patio breezes and the comforting smell of grilled meats. Bring a couple of coworkers who won't destroy the moment when the smoked wings hit the table.

Just go ahead and add Slim & Husky’s $12 Tuesdays to your weekly calendar. The hip-hop-themed pizzeria is the perfect post-work retreat, where you can unwind with craft beers and boozy slushies. The shape and crunch of their crust gives off more flatbread than pizza, but you need their sturdy dough so you can pile up your pizza with next-level toppings like smoked chicken, salmon, and peach mustard drizzle. Slim & Husky’s shows love to the vegans, too, with tasty faux meats and dairy-free cheese options. Sweeten the deal with signature cinnamon roll creations like their Sticky Fingaz, made with bacon and caramel-infused with Uncle Nearest whiskey. We like all three locations, but for a bigger space and patio scene, the location on Metropolitan is our favorite.

There’s nothing like a bowl of Taqueria's jalapeño-spiked queso and delicious fried chicken tacos to help you forget about the six hours of mind-numbing new software training you had to sit through today. If you come to this laid-back West Midtown taco shop at 7pm, the ordering line’s going to be absurd, but you’ll get to your table in the airy dining room pretty quickly. Bring someone who not only understands the importance of patience, but who also realizes that the crunch of tortilla chips has been medically proven to restore feeling in your right brain.

Like its original location on Briarcliff, Desta Ethiopia on the Westside has a menu to appease everyone—vegans, low carb dieters, and even the friends who only eat spaghetti, making it a perfect place to take your buddies or colleagues after work. Order the tender lamb or salmon tibs, which come with a basket of injera. Vegans will find joy in the vegetarian plate, which includes well-seasoned gomen, red lentils, and mushroom stew. And Desta also serves big bowls of pasta if you’re in the mood. Whether you order for dine-in or carry-out, the food comes quickly out of the kitchen, so you can eat and be back home with plenty of time to catch up on the latest drama on RHOA.

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