Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module

Bargain Dining After Hours

Just about anything open in the wee small hours is dishing up a bargain, but here are 29 late-night haunts where your stomach won’t regret the hours you keep.
–Kim Conte

If you’re hungry at midnight . . .

With curtained booths and bistro-inspired light fare, Boystown’s Firefly (3335 N. Halsted St.; 773-525-2505) scoffs at the usual greasy late-night dining experience. Case in point: a stylish grilled cheese made with Muenster and Gruyère on brioche. Likewise, the—count ’em—20 varieties of bruschetta at Wicker Park’s casual Enoteca Roma Wine Bar (2146 W. Division St.; 773-342-1011) showcase offbeat combos. Standouts include the bittersweet Piemonte with Brie, green apples, and honey, and the robust Filippo layered with prosciutto, dried apricots, and crunchy walnuts. Not to be outdone, the candlelit hot spot Ñ (2977 N. Elston Ave.; 773-866-9898) spices up its stretch of Elston with strong mojitos and Argentinean eats such as hefty empanadas and a homemade sausage sandwich.

. . . 1 a.m.

Nighttime is prime time at Chinatown’s Triple Crown Seafood Restaurant (211 W. 22nd Pl.; 312-791-0788), which has an entire menu of half-size portions specifically designed for late-night gorging. And with fresh seafood such as savory “hundred flavor shrimp” or tender black-bean-and-garlic clams available for only $4.95 (half order), it’s hard not to do just that. The lively Luna Mexicana in Logan Square (3565 W. Fullerton Ave.; 773-252-1639) also boasts fresh seafood while the city sleeps, with specialties like seviche and arroz con mariscos; sizzling fajitas topped with fiery pico de gallo prove just as popular. And speaking of popular: the pan pizza at Pequod’s (2207 N. Clybourn Ave.; 773-327-1512), a Sox-themed sports bar near Webster Place Theater, has amassed an impressive following amongst moviegoers and bar-hoppers—most likely due to the crunchy caramelized-cheese crust and sweet basil tomato sauce.

. . . 2 a.m.

The only thing tiny about Wicker Park’s vegetarian-friendly Picante (2016 W. Division St.; 773-328-8800) is the space: this strictly takeout taco stand serves up basic Mexican fare with huge flavor, and the food—especially cheese-stuffed chiles rellenos and tomato-and-basil quesadillas—is packed with quality ingredients. The 3rd Coast Café (1260 N. Dearborn St.; 312-649-0730)—a subterranean coffee shop in the Gold Coast moonlighting as a wine bar—makes good on its claim to be Chicago’s healthiest late-night dining establishment with eclectic soups, salads, and sandwiches; however, many diners indulge in one of the house-made desserts, including a rich Key lime pie. At the other end of the spectrum is Wrigleyville’s Lucky’s Sandwich Company (3472 N. Clark St.; 773-549-0665), whose french-fry-and-coleslaw-stuffed roast beef sandwich is not for the faint of stomach.

. . . 3 a.m.

Located just steps from the weekend hot spots Rockit, Moda, and Howl at the Moon, the sleek and efficient Alibi (23 W. Hubbard St.; 312-464-0609) relies on its prime real estate, fresh subs, and pizza slices to attract a hungry club-crawling crowd. The elegant Bijan’s Bistro (663 N. State St.; 312-202-1904), a bar/bistro located a few blocks north, draws more sophisticated palates with a sizable menu of upscale bar food featuring a standout shrimp BLT and sinful baked Brie. And those who can handle heat in the night should head to the fast and friendly Santullo’s Eatery in Wicker Park (1943 W. North Ave.; 773-227-7960) for the oven-baked sandwich of spicy chicken and pepper jack cheese or a satisfying slice of the New York–style pizza.

. . . 4 a.m.

Devouring sinus-clearing Pakistani cuisine just before dawn might sound like a bad idea, but not when it’s tender chicken tikka or aromatic goat stew teeming with clove flavor from Nehari Palace (2114-2116 W. Devon Ave.; 773-381-2692). Milder fare can be had at bustling Nookies Too (2114 N. Halsted St.; 773-327-1400) or Nookies Tree (3344 N. Halsted; 773-248-9888). Both Nookies are open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Huge, fluffy omelets and other breakfast fare are crowd pleasers, as are burgers and sandwiches served with excellent cottage fries. Also dishing out breakfast—south-of-the-border-style—is the Mexican standby Arturo’s Tacos (2001 N. Western Ave.; 773-772-4944): the after-hours crowd goes nuts for the huevos rancheros, plus burritos, gorditas, and other typical taquería fare.

. . . at any hour

Divey Greektown Gyros (239 S. Halsted St.; 312-236-9310) grills up well-seasoned, sky-high gyros and other tasty pita sandwiches at lightning speed. At $4 to $5 each, it’s hard to find a better deal—day or night. The extra cash comes in handy a mile south, where a few bucks more gets a half pound of the legendary jumbo fried shrimp and scorching hot sauce at Lawrence Fisheries (2120 S. Canal St.; 312-225-2113). And those who prefer to cook their own meal should venture north to Lincoln Square’s San Soo Gab San (5247 N. Western Ave.; 773-334-1589) for sizzling tabletop Korean barbecue, piping hot bibim bap, and 15 to 20 varieties of panchan at any hour of the day. If that’s not good enough for you, go home and go to bed.

Top 10 late-night classics

El Presidente
2558 N. Ashland Ave.
773-525-7938
Mexican

Hollywood Grill
1601 W. North Ave.
773-395-1818
Diner

Iggy’s
1840 W. North Ave.
773-227-4449
Bar food

Melrose Restaurant
3233 N. Broadway
773-327-2060
Coffee shop

Miller’s Pub
134 S. Wabash Ave.
312-645-5377
American

Pick Me Up Cafe
3408 N. Clark St.
773-248-6613
Coffee shop

Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s
600 N. Clark St.
312-867-0455
American

Tempo
6 E. Chestnut St.
312-943-4373
Coffee shop

Wiener Circle
2622 N. Clark St.
773-477-7444
Hot dogs

White Palace Grill
1159 S. Canal St.
312-939-7167
Diner

 

 

Edit Module