The Casual Weeknight Dinner Guide guide image


The Casual Weeknight Dinner Guide

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

Maybe you’re too exhausted to cook because of last night’s anxiety 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.



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 sandwiches to new heights. 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.”

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 (like their Sweet n’ Spicy with pepperoni, cherry peppers, and Mike’s Hot Honey) and a solid chicken parm. Plus, these Detroit-style pies with their super thick crust hold up well for pizza leftovers all weekend.

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” (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.

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.

The menu at this tapas-style Japanese pub on the Westside 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—it's all 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 big bowl of spicy red ramen.

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 Fox's many beers. And next week, try just wishing people a “happy Wednesday,” because unlike Scott the koala office mascot, not everything needs a name.

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 in Underwood Hills, a city favorite. Their chicken mole, brisket barbacoa, and lobster tacos deserve your attention—more so than your colleague’s “quick follow-up” about that thing you said in a meeting three days ago.

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 both locations, but for a bigger space and patio scene, the location on Metropolitan is our favorite.

Ponce City Market is filled with so many places to eat that 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. If you need a nudge out of your whirlpool of indecision, just go to Minero for some great tacos and a cocktail instead. We like the al pastor, the wings, or the huge burrito, which should cover you for at least two meals. And in case you spent too much time inside  in a desk chair today, Minero is one of the few restaurants at PCM with a dedicated outdoor patio.

The wood-paneled walls and fake ’90s cigarette ads make this InmanPark/Old Fourth Ward neighborhood pizzeria 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 specials like Snow Crab Mondays. Starting at 9pm, Lloyd’s sells their pizza by the slice–a perfect way to salvage the evening after a boring client dinner, where you felt peer pressured into ordering a Cobb salad.

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. Head to this West Midtown taqueria, and 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.

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 friends or colleagues after work. Order the tender lamb or salmon tibs, which come with a basket of injera. Vegans can 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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photo credit: Amy Sinclair

The Casual Weeknight Dinner Guide guide image