Between calendars filled with preschool Christmas plays and weekends double stacked with holiday parties, it’s nearly impossible to imagine giving up any precious “down time” (a.k.a. kids-to-bed-early and pajamas-on-the-couch-with-sushi-takeout) in exchange for an honest to goodness, lipstick-and-flat-iron-involved, date. But before the craziness of the season claims every spare minute, go ahead. Shimmy out of your peanut butter smeared yoga pants. Call a sitter—and hit the town with that dashing dad staring at his iPad on the couch next to you. With the following restaurants just waiting for you to come calling, you’ll both be glad you did.
Like a much needed trip to the coast, a visit to the Optimist will restore your equilibrium when you feel like you haven’t talked to your man about anything but travel plans and weekend obligations since before Halloween. Enjoy the live music under heaters in the courtyard, muscle into some fresh oysters at the raw bar before dinner, and dive into some of Atlanta’s finest fresh fish options in the dining room. You’ll leave feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next closet of Christmas decorations.
The Optimist, 914 Howell Mill Road, 404-477-6260
King + Duke
Cool. There are a lot of ways to describe this restaurant (savvy Southern, hip Literati, unpretentious urban), but when it comes right down to it, King + Duke is just plain cool. And good! From the kitchen of Atlanta’s reigning chef supreme Joe Schafer, King + Duke turns out dishes that make you think of your high school reunions, only in a good way: familiar, but modern, and much, much, better.
King + Duke, 3060 Peachtree Road NW, 404-477-3500
Head to Glenwood Park to try an adventure in eating, where dim sum (small plates circulated for you’re a la carte pleasure, for the uninitiated) meets good, local, hearty food with a Southern flair. If you’re tired of talking about the kids but can’t think of anything else for conversation, head to Gunshow and you’ll be talking about this place for weeks to come.
Gunshow, 924 Garrett Street, SE, Suite C, 404-380-1886
Whether you love Indian food or have never tried it, Cardamom Hill will change how you think about it. Featuring food from the most Southern of Indian states, chef Asha Gomez matches her Kerala home-cooking with what she’s come to love most about the South’s home-cooking. Cozy, intimate, and something different, Cardamom Hill is one of our favorite date spots.
Cardamom Hill, 1700 Northside Drive, 404-549-7012
Until the last few years, Atlanta’s Thai scene was polarized by the incredible Nan Thai Fine Dining and the crummy delivery options that also offer sushi on the menu (sushi ain’t Thai, folks). But give thanks this holiday season for Tuk Tuk, a beautifully decorated and deliciously planned homage to Thai street food. Situated in the loft of the Brookwood Shopping Center, you can’t beat the view from the bar or the heated patio of the midtown skyline, and the interior makes you forget you’re in Atlanta and pretend you’re somewhere much more stylish, more cosmopolitan, and more delicious.
Tuk Tuk, 1745 Peachtree Street NE, 678-539-6181
No time to make reservations? No energy to pull off the smoke-and-mirrors effect of a date night? No worries. Just run a comb through your hair (at least get the play dough out of it, ladies), wipe your face down with a baby wipe, and slap on some lip gloss. You’re set to go. Considering how amazing the Korean-meets-real-deal-BBQ at Heirloom Market is, your hot date won’t even notice if you’re wearing a J. Lo mesh bodysuit. Amazing food, a new adventure, no maintenance? Sounds like a dream date night to us.
Heirloom Market BBQ, 2243 Akers Mill Rd., 770-612-2502
One part speakeasy with its backdoor entrance, one part gourmet with it’s devilled quail eggs amuse bouche, one part neighborhood tavern, and one part New South glam, 1 Kept is one heck of a place for a date night.
1 Kept, 2293 Peachtree Rd NE, 404-254-1973
At this Italian masterpiece in Decatur, the opportunities for romance are endless (spaghetti for two, a la Lady and the Tramp, anyone?). Whether it’s your relationship that’s re-ignited or your obsession with this eatery’s commitment to farm-fresh Italian, you’ll leave in love. Reserve the Chef’s Counter in advance and enjoy the drama of an immaculately prepared meal while chatting it up with Chef Drew Belline as he prepares a 5-course meal, just for you.
No. 246, 129 E. Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, 678-399-8246
Where do you like to dine on date night? Tell us below!
Photos courtesy of The Optimist via Facebook, King + Duke via Facebook, Gunshow via Facebook, Tuk Tuk via Facebook, Heirloom Market BBQ via Facebook, 1 Kept via Facebook, Cardamom Hill via Facebook, and No. 246 via Facebook