The Casual Weeknight Dinner Guide

Here’s our list of the best casual spots for a weeknight dinner in Austin.
The Casual Weeknight Dinner Guide image

photo credit: Kirsten Stowers

On most weeknights, you just want to get home, throw something together in a bowl, and watch a Netflix documentary about a cult or an unsolved crime. From time to time, though, it’s important to catch up with friends or bond with coworkers, rather than just spend your night imagining how you’d fare living in a secluded commune.

On those occasions, it’s good to have some go-to’s for where you can eat well without spending a ton of money. That’s why we put together this guide of casual weeknight dinner spots, for when you don’t want to cook, splurge, or spend your night diving into a Wikipedia hole between bites of three-day-old leftovers.



East Austin

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysDinner with the ParentsDogsDrinking Good CocktailsDrinks & A Light BiteHappy Hour


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Since Licha’s is located inside an old house, having dinner here basically feels like you’re already at home—or at least at a friend’s place with a much larger backyard than yours. Come here for a post-work margarita and to try some hard-to-find Mexican food, like the huaraches and tlacoyos.

photo credit: Raphael Brion

Uroko is a casual handroll spot inside of Springdale General in East Austin with a tiny dining room that holds just a few small tables. It’s from the folks behind Kome—a place we like very much—and as a result, it feels like an even more chill version of its older sibling. It’s also located inside of the coworking area of the office park, meaning you can grab items from all the vendors in the area for a frankensteined lunch or dinner consisting of an iced latte from Medici, croissants from Julie Myrtle, and as many handrolls as you can comfortably stomach from Uroko. And if you want something a little less casual, wait until nightfall when Tonari, the omakase-only spot next door, opens—but you’ll need to make a reservation for that.

The Meteor is a reliable neighborhood spot if you live in the area, with round, sourdough pies that are just good enough to satisfy a craving for carbs and cheese. They also make some sandwiches—including a solid burger if you prefer your carbs and cheese in handheld form—and a few salads, if you want nothing to do with carbs and cheese. It’s one of our favorite places in town for drinking wine—and it only gets better during Happy Hour with half price glasses of wine (and cheeseburgers).

Hold Out Brewing is a one-stop shop that makes some of the best burgers and wings in town. Add in their stellar beer and patio complete with plenty of shade and lots of dogs, and you hardly need a reason to ever leave Clarksville. Except, maybe for the occasional HEB run. On the menu you’ll find a mix of classic bar food and inventive riffs, ranging from a simple (and excellent) smash burger, to Frito pies topped with chana masala and coconut yogurt raita. After dinner, grab a crowler of your favorite beer to bring home. 

Hopfields is where to go when you want to drink a few beers, eat some semi-French food, and forget about the back-to-back-to-back meetings you suffered through over lunch. It’s never too loud or packed here, and they have a great burgers, that comes topped with Camembert and cornichons, and will make you forget for an hour or two that it’s only Tuesday.

June’s All Day is the younger sibling of Jeffrey’s and Josephine House. And just like everyone’s younger sibling, it’s a little more carefree and relaxed than the rest of the family. There’s no wrong time to come here - per the name - but it’s a great post-work destination to have a glass of wine on the patio and eat one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the city.

Fresa’s on South First answers the age-old question, “What if you could eat Fresa’s tacos on a big tree-covered patio, instead of always having to take your food to go?” This spot is great for when you and a friend talk about going for a run on the trail after work, but then decide you’d rather just eat Mexican food, drink margaritas, and play with other people’s dogs instead.

When everyone on your group text mentions how sad their desk lunches were today, head to Old Thousand for a group dinner that will erase everyone’s last meal from memory. Everything on the menu—from the brisket fried rice to the mapo tofu—is super sharable, but the char siu steamed buns are what everyone on the thread will be talking about tomorrow.

Breakfast for dinner is great, especially when you slept through your alarm this morning and missed it the first time around. 24 Diner serves breakfast all day every day, along with comfort food like meatloaf and roast chicken for the people in your life who aren’t on board with a dinner frittata.

Pool Burger is not somewhere you want to go on a Saturday afternoon, unless you’re really into crowds and battling for real estate at the bar. During the week, though, this tiki bar and burger truck next to Deep Eddy is way less packed, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding somewhere to sit once you get a burger. You might want to avoid ordering one of their frozen Hurricanes on a weeknight, but just get a mai tai or Singapore sling instead and save yourself the inevitable headache.

Some nights, all you want to do after work is sweat through some weird new workout class, before eating a $17 salad. Other nights, though, nothing sounds better than a big bowl of noodles, and when that happens, go to Ramen Tatsu-ya. This place serves some of the best ramen in the city, and it’s a great spot to refuel for the underwater self-defense seminar you already signed up for in the morning.

Located at The Vortex on Manor, Patrizi’s is an outdoor Italian spot serving way better pasta than you’d ever expect to find at a food truck. All of the pasta—from the cacio e pepe to the pomodoro—is made on-site and most of the menu is around $13, which means you can eat really well here and still have money leftover for a shaved ice from the trailer in the parking lot on your way out.

Some days at work, you’re constantly in meetings about other meetings and circling back with people who want to touch base. When that happens, head to Austin Daily Press after work and eat a sandwich and some hush puppies at a picnic table while you quietly reflect on the day. They serve 20 different sandwiches, along with a few types of tacos and salads, and while you can’t drink here, you can take your food next door to The Wheel where you can.

You’ve drank at Yellow Jacket. You might’ve even had brunch here. But they actually serve a great picnic-inspired menu every day until 2am, with sandwiches, salads, and meze plates all made to order. Find a spot at one of the picnic tables, order some food and a drink, and be thankful that Yellow Jacket is still here as new condos slowly surround it from all directions.

Maybe you missed lunch, and when your friends text you asking where you want to meet for dinner tonight, you tell them you want sushi. Or pizza. Or tapas. Once you realize that it’s just your hunger talking, suggest going to The Peached Tortilla instead. While their menu doesn’t include any of those foods, they do serve a wide range of other things, like tacos, noodles, and wings. Once you eat, you can explain to your friends what was going through your head earlier in the day, or brainstorm ideas for a future sushi/pizza/tapas restaurant in your neighborhood.

Via313 might have five locations around the city now, but their trailer at Placeholder Tiki Bar on Rainey Street is still one of our favorite places to stop by after work for some pizza and a mai tai. The bar usually stays pretty low-key during the week, which means you can have a few drinks and eat some Detroit-style pizza on their back patio without having to battle for space.

Thai Fresh is the restaurant you wish was within walking distance of your house, so that any night when you didn’t feel like cooking, you could just eat here instead. This place is super laid back and the staff is overly friendly to everyone who walks in—regular or not. Besides the usual suspects like curries and pad thai, they also serve a few specialty dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. So regardless of whether you’re looking for comfort food or want to try something new, Thai Fresh has you covered.

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