This is why we call our city Hotlanta. Summer just officially started, but it’s already sweltering. I meant to go to the gym yesterday but my brain said, “Tread mill, or margaritas and guacamole?” It can be exhausting at the end of a long hot summer day to decide what to eat, so here are some ideas for restaurants and fast and easy dishes to make at home.

One of my favorite summer restaurants is Joe’s on Juniper. I’ve been going to Joe’s for years and they really support our community. When the sun sets you’ll find plenty of LGBT diners on their spacious patio. I love their Thursday Trivia night because it’s fun to hear the crass team names people come up with. A fierce group of gays and girlz called “The Stimulus Package” recently won.

Cool meals for Hotlanta, whether dining in or out


Joe’s on Juniper
1049 Juniper St.
Atlanta, GA 30309

The food is mainly bar food, so don’t expect gourmet fare. Joe’s has really good burgers and chicken sandwiches. Since I’m a guacamole freak I like the $ 8.95 border grilled chicken sandwich with crispy fries or slaw. Joe’s also has tasty salads and cheap $5 martinis. Service can be slow when they’re slammed, so sit back and enjoy the eye candy. They’re open late so it’s also a good place to take a first date, or to meet that guy you chatted up online to make sure he isn’t psycho.

If you would rather impress that first date — or your longtime mate —at home, local markets like Publix and Trader Joe’s have all you need to whip up a quick, cool meal.
We’ve all been there: It’s a weekday night, time is tight, you’re hot and cranky, and you just spent all that money on sassy sandals or an AC recharge. Get a Publix rotisserie chicken (room temperature), a head of romaine lettuce, a soft-to-the-touch ripe avocado, tomato, maybe some cheese, dried fruit or nuts, Paul Newman’s Italian or your favorite dressing.

Toss all of the ingredients together and serve with Publix key lime pie and fresh strawberries. This is one of my favorite weekday summer meals. You could entertain with this big salad also and toss in some cooked corkscrew pasta to stretch a buck. Then use the leftover chicken to make chicken salad sandwiches on croissants.

Trader Joe’s is always filled with great meat… and the food isn’t bad either. Seriously, there are plenty of cute guys there.  Anyway, if you have a grill, get their marinated carne asada steak and cook three to four minutes on high heat. Serve with tortillas, guacamole, tomatoes and other condiments for a festive Latin fajita bar.

You can serve either of these meals with Key Lime Margaritas: 1 cup Nelly and Joe’s Key Lime Juice (available at Publix), 1 cup tequila, 1 cup Cointreau, super fine sugar to taste. Blend with ice or serve on the rocks in festive salt-rimmed glasses. Go crazy and fill hollowed red peppers with a Joe’s yogurt and scallion dip with pita chips.

Other cool summer restaurants

Metrofresh (Midtown Promenade): Menu changes daily. This is one those local places with great karma and healthy fresh cuisine. Good cold soups and salads.

Iberian Pig (Decatur): Hot, humid summer night? Let’s have some air conditioning and candlelight. Excellent tapas like baked stuffed calamari and salads. Great date or special occasion place.

MF Sushi Bar (Midtown): Sushi is refreshing on those hot summer nights and this is one of the more glamorous, expensive sushi places. A perfect place to wear your summer linens.  Zippy spicy tuna rolls and crispy soft shell crab spider rolls. Or for more casual fare and a gay disco scene, head to Ru Sans off Monroe and Piedmont.

Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream & Desserts (East Atlanta): Cool off with gourmet ice cream flavors like Coconut Jalapeno and Death by Chocolate, plus scratch French crepes made with Nutella and healthy tangerine and blackberry sorbets. Try the Mexican milk shake blended with a touch of cinnamon.