After-Dark Delights: These Atlanta cafes have new nighttime offerings

Cafe owners are expanding their hours and menus to create serene spaces for Atlantans to chat, sip, and savor

A spread of cocktails, small plates, and pastries at Little Tart After Dark

Photo by Madi Bolton

Not everyone wants to spend evenings hanging out at a bar, and restaurants need to turn tables, often preventing diners from lingering. So, what happens to those who want to be social in a tranquil, welcoming environment? Local cafe owners are taking note of the need and expanding their hours and menus to create a serene space for Atlantans to chat, sip, and savor—no reservations necessary. Here are a few:

Little Tart creme brulee

Photo by Madi Bolton

Passion margarita frozie at Little Tart

Photo by Madi Bolton

Little Tart After Dark
437 Memorial Drive, Atlanta
Saturdays and Sundays 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

It was summer 2023. Little Tart Bakeshop founder Sarah O’Brien was exploring Paris with her director of operations Amy Gregg and some other “Tarts” as her employees lovingly refer to themselves. “We were sitting at these tiny cafes where we’d have nuts and a nice glass of wine,” Gregg explains. “It was a relaxed atmosphere that was very approachable. We realized we could do this!”

When they returned to Atlanta, Gregg began implementing her vision: candles, flowers, printed menus on tables—all cues intended to signal a change in mood. “In the mornings, people are half asleep or rushed to get to work,” she says. “Little Tart After Dark offers a more intimate setting for people to interact, linger, and have conversations.” The weekend-evenings-only event began three months ago, offering small plates like olives and nuts, pastries such as cookies, Big Softie (ice cream) sandwiches, crème brulee, and hazelnut cake. Guests order at the counter and can enjoy Halfway Crooks beer on tap, nitro drip coffee, and wine by the glass and the bottle. Cocktails include kir, Old Fashioneds, Sazeracs, and a frozen passion fruit margarita.

Open to all ages, Little Tart After Dark has refined offerings in a casual atmosphere. “For me, it was really important to have a place where people can gather,” Gregg says. “It really has a lot of heart with our team and community behind it.”

Butter pecan Paris-brest

Courtesy of Gracious Plenty

Little Tart mocktails (from left): orange-rosemary , cherry-lime, cucumber lime

Photo by Madi Bolton

Gracious Plenty @Nite
1164 Canton Street, Roswell
Thursdays 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

Having studied under acclaimed Rocket Farms Restaurants pastry chef Chrysta Poulos, Gracious Plenty owner Jasmin Willis can recognize talent when she sees it. And she felt strongly that pastry chef Celina Vicente—who gained experience at Atlas and the Chastain before coming to Gracious Plenty—has what it takes to stand out in a notoriously tough industry. Willis wanted to give Vicente a place to show off her skills—outside of the usual breakfast-and-brunch fare she creates for Gracious Plenty. Enter Gracious Plenty @Nite, which launched in mid-December.

Here, guests can enjoy plated desserts like Butter Pecan Paris-Brest (brown butter pate choux with pecan praline, salty pecan whip, vanilla caramel, and candied pecans) and Lemon Coffee Cake (vanilla sponge cake with lemon compote, vanilla whipped ganache, coffee crumble, and coffee-lemon ice cream).  Other options include Crème Brule with bruleed citrus and cranberry-orange shortbread, Death By Chocolate made with dark chocolate mousse, salted vanilla caramel, brownie, and sea salt chocolate cremeux, and Cookies & Milk with five different types of cookies. Wine, beer, coffee, and hot cocoa are also available.

“I wanted to give Celina a place to shine,” Willis says. “She is the first person who demonstrates the same level of passion and creates plated desserts like I would, so creating Gracious Plenty @Nite for her, just feels right, like how it was supposed to be all along.”

Gracious Plenty @Nite is available for sit-down customers, as well as to go.

Death By Chocolate at Gracious Plenty @Nite

Courtesy of Gracious Plenty

264 19th Street
Monday through Thursday until 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until 10 p.m.

Located in Atlantic Station, this European-style cafe opened in December, serving Italian coffee, pastries (with a few recipes by 2022 James Beard Award finalist Claudia Martinez), and a full breakfast menu. Unlike most coffee shops, which shut down in the evening, illy serves Italian favorites for lunch and dinner—think focaccia with salumi, caprese salad, cacio e pepe, and pesto and prosciutto pasta.

“I experienced the full illy concept in Italy and France—where they have breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, desserts, pastries, and alcohol,” says Atlanta franchisee Asad Babwari. “We want people to come to illy throughout the day and get a taste of what the Italian culture is really about.”

All items are ordered via counter service, but servers will bring the food and drinks to your table. Standouts include an almond rose latte, lavender mint latte, chocolate mousse dome, strawberry shortcake, and filled croissants.

Warm in color and atmosphere, illy Atlantic Station is decorated with posters and art. Collection cups are for sale in a small retail area. “Having multiple revenue streams helps out the business tremendously,” Babwari says.