Let’s face it - food tastes better late at night when you’re drunk. It’s one of those things we know because we’re not idiots. Sometimes you start drinking during dinner time and forget to eat until it's midnight. And other times it's 4am and you want to bathe inside of a burrito. Whatever the situation, there are a lot of good late-night food options all over the city.
Here are the best late night eats for when you're drunk.
The Wiener's Circle tastes great when you're sober, but like most things in life, it's infinitely better when you're not. Is there a more iconic late-night spot? The answer is no. Order a char dog and cheese fries. If it's a particularly rowdy night, you'll probably be encouraged to yell expletives at the staff (or don't, because peer pressure has nothing on you). Either way, definitely give them a high five and a tip on your way out because it's all in good fun.
SmallFry Logan Square
Small Fry says they’re “open until 3am – occasionally later.” And that, in a nutshell, is exactly why they just get us: no hard rules, no real closing time. Sometimes you need a burger for dinner, sometimes you need one for 2nd dinner, and sometimes you need one to cap off your night after taking those ill-advised extra shots. SmallFry is here for you in all of these situations.
Cheesie's Pub & Grub
Do you like bacon? Do you like mac and cheese? Do you like chicken fingers? Do you want to put all of these things on a grilled cheese sandwich when you’re 17 beers deep? The answer to all of those things is yes. So much yes.
White Palace Grill
Deciding to hit a diner for late-night means you’re the perfect kind of drunk – drunk enough to eat greasy goodness, but not too drunk that you can’t sit at a table and support your own head. Speaking of, did you know the human head weighs eight pounds? And do you know what the hell happened to that kid from Jerry Maguire? Those are the kind of intoxicated conversations best saved for White Palace Grill, a classic Chicago diner in the South Loop open 24 hours a day.
Chicago hot dogs and mother-in-laws (a hot dog bun stuffed with a tamale, covered with chili) were huge Chicago staples when everyone was broke during the Great Depression. Well, we live in our own version of that every weekend after we spend everything in our bank account on booze and food. If you're like us, then a classic dog or tamale from Johnny O's is a sensible financial decision at a time when none of your other decisions make any sense.
Fatso's Last Stand
If you find yourself drunk in Ukrainian Village and aren't sure how you got there, know that Fatso's Last Stand can help is this dire time of need. They'll serve you burgers and dogs and fries while you figure out how to get home.
The first time you go to Tempo late-night it’s an eye opening experience. Eggs and pancakes at 3am in the Gold Coast after a night on Division Street? Adult life is the best.
Wrigleyville brings out the best in us - and by best we mean drunkest. Once you get sucked into the black hole of '80s and '90s songs at Sluggers you're most certainly livin' on a prayer. But when you emerge from the darkness, there will be a shimmering ray of pizza light coming from Dimo's across the street. Get a mac & cheese slice and s'mores slice because you deserve it.
Maxwell Street Depot
We don't discriminate against baseball teams. If you wouldn't be caught dead anywhere near Wrigley Field then we hope it's because you're busy cheering on the Sox, or at least drinking through their struggles. Whatever the case, know that Maxwell Street Depot is only a hop, skip, and a stumble away for a classic polish with grilled onions 24 hours a day.
Owen & Engine is for the sophisticated drunks. And by sophisticated, we mean you don't want cheap fast food. You're prepared to sit at a bar, get served, and pretend you aren't slurring your words even though the bartender sees right through you. Hit up Owen & Engine for a judge-free zone, an excellent burger, and another quality cocktail to wash it all down.
You're probably either too familiar with the slinger, or you really need to get acquainted. It's hash browns topped with two burger patties, grilled onions, cheese, two over easy eggs, and topped with chili. It'll be the best and worst thing to ever happen to you. And you'll find it at Diner Grill, which is basically two street cars pushed together at Irving Park Rd. and Paulina with just enough room for a counter and some stools.
Goose Island Shrimp House Chicago
It’s late. You’re on the way home. You’re f*cking starving and your roommate already yelled at you last week for eating her leftover pizza. Make your Uber driver take a detour down Division Street to the Goose Island Shrimp House, open 'til 5am. Eat a million fried shrimp and then maybe sprinkle some leftovers in your roommates bed to prove your dominance.
Don't be afraid to get a little saucy late night at Lem's, and we mean it in the literal BBQ sauce all over your face kind of way. Get aggressive with rib tips and hot links until 1am during the week and 3am on the weekends.
If you’ve never fallen asleep with a burrito on your chest and taco remnants on your face then are you even living? As far as late-night Mexican food goes, Traspasada is always our move. Get a steak burrito and chorizo tacos because you like delicious things.
Here’s what you need to do: take the water taxi from River North to Chinatown, hit a karaoke bar, and end the night with Chinese food at Chi Café. The food may be typical of this part of town, but Chi Café is the most modern looking restaurant in the neighborhood. Order all sorts of Chinese favorites 24 hours a day on the weekend. Please invite us to come when you decide to do this.
You know that local Mexican spot you hit up way too many times in college? That’s Allende for DePaul. But it’s not only for DePaul students, because Allende caters to all of us that have spent too much time partying on Lincoln Ave. Shout out to all the drunk and broke DePaul kids out there – enjoy it while it lasts.
Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, or sauté it - but what you really want to do is fry it. Lawrence's Fisheries is a special spot on the Canal Street bridge that's been serving excellent fried shrimp since 1950, and they do it 24 hours a day.
There should be a mandatory rule that any meat you eat past midnight needs to be cut off a stick. Hit Greektown Gyros for exactly that.
Here's the thing - the best part about Big Star is getting drunk at Big Star. Whatever you're feelings are about the tacos, there's no denying that the margaritas are fantastic. Ten out of ten times we're at Big Star to drink. And since they're open until 2am all week and 3am on the weekends, you can simultaneously get drunk and eat tacos all the time.
MORE TOTS MORE TOTS MORE TOTS MORE TOTS. That's pretty much what goes through our heads when we've been drinking all night. And if we've been drinking anywhere near Pilsen, we're heading straight to the dark Skylark bar for a basket of tots and a burger on the side.
Al's Italian Beef
We've stumbled out of River North bars late at night more times than we'd like to admit, but there are two sides to every story. Are we assholes, or do we get drunk at Boss Bar as justification for getting a late-night Italian beef at Al's? Probably a bit of both.
Red Hot Ranch
Fact: a depression dog and cheese fries will make you the happiest person in the world if you are even a little bit drunk. Under those circumstances, we've also been known to drink the cheese sauce at Red Hot Ranch all by itself. We're happy to prove it if you'd like.
You're either in the know about the elusive Tamale Guy or you need to get out more. Where is he? Nobody knows. But you can always rely on the Tamale Guy to show up at bars that don't have kitchens or close them early. He has a knack for showing up right when you need him. God bless you and your delicious tamales, Tamale Guy.