Eat NYC: Where To Go After
A disconcerting proportion of the best meals of my life were eaten beyond the midnight chimes. Booze, college, performing, traveling, and that general youth zeal for life are to blame for this.
Would I take any of them back?
A beer to hold the buzz, a ramen to blow your mind.
If, for whatever regrettable reason, you find yourself in Midtown East at the end of the night, fear not (as much).
While downstairs Totto Ramen closes at 11:30, upstairs Hide-Chan is open Fridays until 1am, Saturdays until 4am. And frankly, Totto is very good, but Hide-Chan is the sh**. Everything you want in the wee hours of the morning is inside: frosty mugs of light Japanese beer, fried dumplings, and Spicy Garlic Ramen (or whatever lesser version you want to order). Get your noodles however you want them (Firm. You want them firm.), and when your bowl arrives take a huge, sobering inhale of pork and garlic steam, before diving headlong into the fastest bowl of ramen you'll ever put away. After this, you have no choice but to sleep.
Midtown, again. Why are you here? If it's Broadway, fine. But it isn't, is it? You've gotten talked into meeting your friend from "out of town" at some cowboy-themed bar off Times Square because, even though they grew up in Connecticut/Jersey/Penn and have been to the city a billion times growing up, they still aren't over Times F***ing Square. I'd feel sorry for you, but no. You made your own bed.
The Halal Guys are famous for a reason. They're good anytime, but you likely won't really appreciate them until 1) You visit them after midnight, and 2) You have other, crappier (sometimes literally) halal food. Let me be short here: chicken/beef/falafel/whatever, what you really want in your stomach of stomachs is that white sauce. A squirt of spicy red to make you feel something. Plate or sandwich, it doesn't matter, just eat, cry, and be happy.
As happy as you can be in Midtown, at least.
Still in midtown, eh? Can't take a hint? It's okay, with this many late night options it might be worth going out just to eat later.
The menu from top to bottom is practically built for maximum late night enjoyment: yakitori (grilled meat skewers), takoyaki (deep fried octopus balls), tempura, fried rice bowls, udon pasta, and plenty of sake and beer should be more than enough to satisfy your cravings. Kampai! Again.
Don't ask for a sake bomb you heathen.
I don't care if there's dollar pizza just around the block; if you're anywhere in the vicinity of Prince Street, you want this friggin' pizza. It's worth the line out the door, and no, you don't need a table at 1AM. Just take your slice(s) of sicilian pepperoni out on the street and start stuffing.
Between the crispy, concave pepperoni, a tremendous marinara, and light and chewy crust (crazy for Sicilian), this is the best square slice I've ever had. And that was sober. Just imagine the magic it'll work in the witching hour.
There were a few times in New York when I had that most LA of late night cravings: the midnight burrito. Although Mexican food is getting slowly and surely better in this city, the late night options are woefully few and far between. East Village, however, has a ringer in Taqueria Diana and its stupendous al pastor burritos and nachos.
Al pastor is spit-roasted pork; savory, sweet, and delicious, though sometimes dry. That's why you get it in a burrito, or on nachos, with everything. Drowning in guacamole, crema, and cheese, the al-pastor soaks it up and still manages to shine through, now adding welcome texture to a truly loaded burrito. The first bite might just put you down for good.
Sometimes you need a little class to help you feel like a person at the end of the night. A little, not a lot. Let's face it, you're not getting into Blue Ribbon Brasserie in your current state of dishabille.
Yes, I know what that means.
L'Express is exactly the right combination of class - it's French, aka American for "classy" - and casual, a 24-hour bastion of humanity in all its forms. All of them. From onion soup gratineé to escargot bourguignonne (butter bombs) to steak frites, this is French comfort food at its most comfortable. The well and warmly lit bistro dining room helps keep the buzz of the city out of your mind, and an approachable beer/wine/cocktail list should stay your headache for a couple more hours. L'Express is a place to sit and take at least one calm breath, when the night is dark and full of terr[ible decisions].
If fried chicken doesn't sound good to you at 2AM, I don't know what will. Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken makes it pretty easy on you, ordering fast-food style with options for spiciness, sauces, and sides that should satisfy your squad (even the token vegetarian - smoked mac 'n cheese, anyone?). This is solid fried chicken that won't disappoint - especially at this time of night - in its crispy, juicy, salty flavorfulness.
For the late night adventurous types, they've even got liver and onions (fried chicken livers) and a Beak to Butt plate, because I know when I'm nice and schlackered all I want is summadat good good gizzard.
Artichoke is to night as bagels are to morning.
I mean, no, but it's still pretty dang awesome. Artichoke Basille's Pizza (for long) is probably the second most populous pizza joint in NYC after "Ray's," but a whole lot better because every Artichoke is actually the same Artichoke, and every slice of artichoke pizza is the same artichoke pizza. And that is some tasty pizza.
The titular 'zza is thick, cheesy, and artichokey, with one heck of an alfredo sauce pulling it all together. It's an ideal post-drinking bite to take home, just...good luck with them lines. Especially at any of their locations in walking distance of NYU. 10 people in front of you? Sure, whatever. 20? There's dollar pizza down the street, bruh.
This way for happiness.
Technically this is cheating because neither Burger Joint location is open past midnight, but this is my site and these are my rules, so you can deal.
The point is, if I could end every long night at Burger Joint, I would. The Greenwich Village storefront is probably just as good, but I'm a sucker for "hidden" bars and restaurants (no such things in Manhattan), and as such I've been infatuated with Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien since I saw it on No Reservations. A dive burger bar in the lobby of one of New York's ritziest hotels? It's old news, but still too perfect.
A burger and fries here is easily one of the most grounded meals in Manhattan - when I say Burger Joint is no frills, I mean that even the thought of frills has been banished from this place. Sitting down at one of the patchy booths, the big city washes away, and all that's left for you to care about is this greasy burger, this pile of piping-hot fries, and that idiot who's trying to order a salad at the register when they are clearly not having it.
It ain't called Salad Joint, bro.
Where do you go to eat your sins away at night's end? Let me know below, so I have something entertaining to read later. Thnx.