The restaurant industry is usually one of the first casualties of a recession. Eating out's a luxury many people forsake as soon as money gets tight. When folks do eat out, value becomes a key factor: People return to the ethnic favorites and the family restaurants they already trust.
In Atlanta, restaurants have closed down as a result of the recession (the Globe), projects have been put on hold (Buckhead Life’s signature restaurant in the St. Regis Hotel), and other restaurants are struggling to get customers in the door.
The good news is the industry's becoming more and more audacious in its efforts to offer diners value for their money. Many restaurants now offer nightly multi-course, prix-fix menus for a fraction of an a la carte meal's cost. Early bird specials are more common. And some places are getting highly creative: Dogwood’s offer involves a coin toss to see if you have to pay for your food or not.
Here are some of the best dining deals we found that might take some of the guilt out of one of our city’s favorite pleasures.
ARIA Three-course Chef’s Tasting Menu, as well as 20 percent off all food in the bar area. $39. 490 East Paces Ferry Road. 404-233-7673. www.aria-atl.com.
BLUE EYED DAISY On Mondays from 5-7:30 p.m., get a three-course meal with a glass of wine for $13, or with soda for $11. 9065 Selborne Lane, Palmetto. 770-463-8379. www.blueeyeddaisy.com.
BLUEPOINTE Four-course Asian-inspired meal. $35. 3455 Peachtree Road. 404-237-9070. www.buckheadrestaurants.com.
BUCKHEAD LIFE RESTAURANTS $29 three-course specials available at Pricci, 500 Pharr Road. 404-237-2941; Veni Vidi Vici, 41 14th St. 404-875-8424; Nava, 3060 Peachtree Road. 404-240-1987; Buckhead Diner, 3073 Piedmont Road. 404-262-3336. www.buckheadrestaurants.com.
CANOE Offers a nightly “Local Yokel” menu, a three-course prix-fix menu with ingredients supplied by local farmers, fishermen, etc. $30. 4199 Paces Ferry Road. 770-432-2663. www.canoe-atl.com.
CHOPS Hosts Lobster Fest, which includes three courses of lobster dishes. $49. 70 West Paces Ferry Road. 404-262-2675. www.buckheadrestaurants.com.
DOGWOOD $25 three-course special Tuesdays through Fridays, or press your luck on Toss Up Tuesday and Thursday. From 5:30-10 p.m. in the bar area, you have a 50-50 chance of getting any appetizers you order for free. When you've finished, the bartender flips a coin and you call to see if you’re charged or not. 565 Peachtree St. 404-835-1410. www.dogwoodrestaurant.com.
ECCO Pizza or pasta and a glass of wine or bottle of beer for $15 on Sundays. 40 7th St. 404-347-9555. www.ecco-atlanta.com.
KOZMO GASTRO PUB Southern Comfort Tuesdays offer fried chicken with a choice of side for $9. 11890 Douglas Road, Alpharetta. 678-526-6094. www.kozmogastropub.com.
KYMA Five-course Greek meal. $35. 3085 Piedmont Road. 404-262-0702. www.buckheadrestaurants.com.
LA TAVOLA TRATTORIA On Monday nights, get a bowl of pasta, a bread basket and a glass of wine for $15. 992 Virginia Ave. 404-873-5430. www.fifthgroup.com.
MARKET From 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. nightly, their courses are only $30. 3377 Peachtree Road. 404-523-3600. www.marketbuckhead.com.
PEASANT BISTRO On Monday nights at the bar, all-you-can-eat mussels are $15, $20 with a glass of wine, and $25 with a bottomless glass of wine ("bottomless" actually means 4-glass-maximum). 250 Park Avenue West. 404-230-1724. www.peasantatl.com.
SHAUN'S Every Sunday from 5-9 p.m., Shaun’s offers a salad, pasta and gelato for $12. 1029 Edgewood Avenue. 404-577-4358 www.shaunsrestaurant.com.
THE SHED $3 sliders on Wednesday nights. 475 Bill Kennedy Way. 404-835-4363. www.theshedatglenwood.com.
WILDFIRE A three-course special for $32, as well as half-off appetizers in the Martini Lounge. 94 Perimeter Center West. 770-730-9080. www.wildfirerestaurant.com.
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