Author: Hope S. Philbrick

It’s easy to be frugal and thoughtful at the same time when planning a date night in Athens, Georgia. Make a good impression and have fun without emptying your wallet at these restaurants where great vibes, amazing food, and fantastic drinks are standards. Since one person’s cheap is another’s expensive, how did we decide what’s a bargain? All the restaurants on this alphabetical list have plenty of satiating entrées on their dinner menus for under $15. Bon appétit, y’all!



  1. Cali N Tito’s offers outdoor dining with a lively, authentically-Latin American vibe at its East Side and Lumpkin Street (cash only) locations. The menu is loaded with south-of-the-border options from Cuban sandwiches to Mexican burritos, empanadas to ceviche, but the fish taco most consistently lures fans to return again and again—and it’s $3.95!

2. Clocked! uses organic and natural ingredients in all its fresh cooked-to-order fare. The diner’s menu presents over a dozen ways to top a beef, black bean, falafel, or vegan patty for under $10, including ‘Bronco!’ loaded with cheese, bacon, onion ring, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and house-made BBQ sauce. Creative shakes and malts like Cheerwine, PBJ, and mocha are hard to resist.

3. Grindhouse Killer Burgers prices even its award-winning double-stack style burgers well under $10, so add sides, drinks—psst, the Grindhouse lager is $2 a pint!—and you may still have funds for a handspun milkshake or malt for dessert. The rooftop sports bar and patio, available for adults age 21+, is the go-to spot for pre- and post-game festivities.

4. Poquitos Authentic Mexican food from the owners of The Grit and Pedro de Paz of Ted’s Most Best is the place to be for tacos, tostadas, sopes, quesadillas and more. A single taco is only $3.50, so you can try a few and still be nice to your wallet!  

5. The Royal Peasant Pub is a cozy, British-style pub that pours some of the United Kingdom’s best draft and craft bottle beers alongside English fare with upscale twists. From vegetable curry to lamb burger, bangers & mash to fish & chips, this menu affordably covers all the bases.

6. Saucehouse Barbecue sets a jovial mood with its biergarten-style patio. Grab a half-rack of ribs or dig into a quarter- or half-pound of tender pulled pork, sliced brisket, or chopped chicken served with your pick among a lavish assortment of sides. Nine different sauces from sweet molasses to hot vinegar to mustard ensure you’ll find a favorite.

7. South Kitchen + Bar boasts an award-winning menu with creations like iron skillet tots tossed in duck fat and veggie burgers with house-made tempeh. With two sommeliers and craft-beer experts on staff, the service level is high here. Look for the BYOV (build your own veggie) plate where you can choose three sides for $12—and note that fried chicken is one of the side options!

8. Kelly's Authentic Jamaican Food is the best place to take your date for a taste of the islands! Entrees range from $11-14, which includes two sides, cornbread, and a drink. Plus, don't miss the beef and chicken patty, hand pies that are only $2.50.

9. Ted’s Most Best, a casual place tucked into a previous tire storage garage, features a spacious patio with a bocce ball court. The kitchen consistently proves that simple can be excellent, with its bargain-priced artisan pizzas and calzones, pasta, salads, and paninis. Equally impressive is the beer and wine selection.

10. Trapeze Pub is a casual dining spot with a great menu and a fantastic beer selection. Check out their fries with garlic aioli, just make sure your date has them too so you aren't the only one with garlic breath. 



  • Schedule a dinner date before 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays at Hilltop Grille—say something sweet like, “I can’t wait until the weekend to see you!” to rack up some bonus points—and you’ll save $4 off any entrée, which gets you under $15 for Southern comfort favorites like fried catfish at this romantic restaurant.



  • George’s Lowcountry Table, an upscale full-service restaurant, offers two prime rib dinners for $35 on Thursdays. Add a bottle of house red or white wine for $10.


Spend More Time Together, on the Cheap

Beyond foodie fun, options abound to extend your time together without spending a whole lot of cash. Here are some budget-friendly ideas for fun around Athens:

This blog was written in 2021, and updated in 2023 by Shannon Dominy.