HOUGuide

The Best Late-Night Restaurants In Houston

Stomachs don’t have a closing time, and neither do some of these places.
The Best Late-Night Restaurants In Houston image

photo credit: Liz Silva

We’ve all been there. The last downtown bar has been crawled through, your shoes are starting to feel like mousetraps, and the only thing you need more than a glass of water is something handheld and served with a mountain of cheesy fries. Or, maybe you wake up and decide you need a midnight breakfast because pancakes are important all hours of the day. Whatever your late night food needs, here’s our list of the best places to eat after hours.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Chelsea Thomas

Bar

East End

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good CocktailsLate Night Eats
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Open Until: 2am

One day, the fine folks behind The Almighty Moon Tower Inn decided that not only did Houston need a totally unhinged eight-frozen-machines-deep daiquiri bar, but it also needed more gut-busting (or, in some cases, alcohol-absorbing) food. Enter Voodoo Queen Daiquiri Dive in the East End. Stuffed with black lights, taxidermy, air hockey tables, and a couple lifesize skeletons, Voodoo Queen is a frozen drink and chicken tenders lover's paradise. Get a basket of tendies, a massive fried shrimp po’boy, or crinkle-cut fries smothered in roast beef and cheese sauce, alongside neon green cocktails or a few jello shots until closing time.


Open Until: 11:30pm Tues-Thurs, 1am Fri-Sat, midnight on Sunday (closed Monday)

There’s really nothing like the late-night glow from a taco truck window—especially when that truck is parked next to a dive bar. Activate your inner moth and glide over to Tacos La Sultana, a trompo truck in the East End. Served Monterrey style, juicy pork seasoned with nothing more than smoked paprika is sliced by an exceptionally skilled taquero and seared again alongside oil-warmed corn tortillas. The pork is juicy, with pockets of sweet, caramelized fat. Each bite tastes better than the last, so much so you almost forget about sprinkling on any fresh onion, cilantro, or a squeeze of lime. Order bistec, a tender chopped beef with wonderfully crispy edges, or mix both meats together in a cheesy quesadilla campechana.


Open Until: 2am Fri-Sat, 1am Sun and Tues-Thurs (closed Monday)

The Chinatown izakaya Toukei serves ramen, sushi, and yakitori. But if the rows of Japanese whiskey bottles covering an entire wall (and filling up the bar) aren’t indication enough, most folks come to Toukei for the drinks. Have a bowl of spicy black ramen and a cocktail on the side—preferably something whiskey-based—to gear up for a fierce bar crawl ahead. Or, stick around for awhile longer—there are enough drink options to keep you happy the rest of the night, anyway.


Open Until: 10pm Mon-Wed, 1am Thurs, 3am Fri-Sat

You might think you’re just stumbling into another bar when you visit Frank’s Pizza after the Downtown bars close. Pretty much everyone who just got kicked out after last call made their way to Frank’s for a sobering slice of New York-style pizza. Frank’s is reliable. Just as the sun rises each morning, Frank’s bakes off extra pizzas at night—especially on the weekends. Grab a couple slices, served on paper plates in case you want or need to eat outside while waiting for a rideshare, or a whole large pizza if there’s a crew of mouths to feed. Frank’s doesn’t ask why you need six slices of pepperoni at 2am on a Saturday night, but they do want to keep the line moving. 


Open Until: Midnight Mon-Thurs, 2am Fri-Sun

Sparkle’s in the Third Ward is the sort of understated counter-service spot you can always count on, especially when you want to end your night with a mammoth burger and fries. Customers regularly lean on the counter and shoot the breeze with the cashier, while they wait for a massive fried fish sandwich or a cheeseburger with extra onion rings.T he space is pretty small, so unless you eat at one of three available tables inside, you’ll probably be standing just outside of their doors, unhinging your jaw for another bite of the meaty double cheeseburger.


Open Until: 2am daily

Few other places understand the importance of a good late night meal like Trash Panda Drinking Club in Northside Village. The inside of this dive-y bar is tiny, painted black, and barely lit, outside of a few red lights hanging over the bar and neon signs inviting you to “eat trash, be free.” While we wouldn’t call crispy glazed brussels sprouts and quessabirria tacos with eye-watering jalepeño crema sauce trash, we have shoveled these dishes in a way that would make local raccoons proud. And after hanging out there for a few hours, we understand all of the trash panda enthusiasm.


Open Until: 10pm Sun-Wed, Midnight Thurs-Sat

You can see the bright pink and green exterior of Winnie's, a vibrant bar in Midtown serving Cajun-Creole food, from down the block. But once inside, you’ll know that the fun is just beginning. Whether you’re at the mile-long bar with an order of their gooey pimento cheese with spiced blackened crawfish mixed in, or on the patio working your way through a frozen drink treasure chest flight with a few pals, Winnie’s is the place to be all the way through last call.


photo credit: Kamp

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Open Until: 1am Sun-Tues, 2am Wed-Sat

We go to Kamp for two reasons: to dance the night away while dodging bartenders with flaming bottles of Don Julio 1942, and to stuff our faces with spicy boudin balls filled with pepper jack cheese. This Galleria clubstaurant serves Cajun/Creole staples and is notorious for keeping the party going until the wee hours of the morning. This spot has all of the fun of an adult summer camp, if that summer camp included seafood boils on a sprawling patio, apple pie flavored shots that can serve three people, or a plate of oxtails and rice that you enjoy through a cloud of blueberry hookah smoke. Come here when you want to have a club night that begins and ends in one place, or when it’s midnight and you need thirteen gulf oysters, ASAP. Anything goes at Kamp. 


Open Until: 2am daily

There isn’t really a wrong time to go to Gao’s Kabob in Chinatown. Show up here to be whisked away to a world of skewered meat, beer towers, and maybe karaoke. Bring a group of friends here before a bar crawl to load up on grilled proteins and garlic chives. Or show up at the end of a boozy night and let tender skewers of beef serve as your first line of defense against the drinks from earlier in the night. The later you show up, the more likely you’ll feel emboldened to do karaoke numbers as you pour from the beer towers that sit on the ends of tables, like taps of liquid courage.


Open Until: Midnight daily

Better Luck Tomorrow is an adorable bar in the Heights with a dimly lit interior—there isn’t much else to see besides the bar backlit with bright neon lights. This cozy little bar is where you can bring your boo and have a pomegranate ranchwater that tastes like an alcoholic Capri-Sun, devour the double-meat patty melt to the tune of 70s funk, and chit chat on the wraparound patio while you hope to spot a few cute dogs out for a late night walk.


Open Until: 1am Mon, 2am Tues, 4am Wed-Sun

For the nights when you can see only in vibes, there’s Chapultepec Lupita, which has been around since the 70s. The pages-long menu features a blend of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, which means you can get chapulines as a complement to a supreme burrito doused in cheese and stuffed with sizzling fajita meat. If you’re new to Chapultapec Lupita they’ll tell you to seat yourself, but most regulars barely pause at the entrance, and make a b-line to their TOC (Table Of Choice). And everyone here after hours is on a mission to pad their stomachs with as much fajita meat as possible. That’s why we love Chapultepec Lupita— it’s an “if you know you know” Montrose deep-cut that serves the community while other taco places slumber.


Open Until: 24 hours 

A part of the Pappas family restaurants, Dot Coffee Shop in Gulfgate has been around since 1967, serving comfort meals to Houstonians 24 hours a day. The menu has a little bit of everything, and even at 3am you can get a chicken fried steak with rich gravy, a chicken fajita omelet served with golden hash browns, or a slice of tart key lime pie. This is where you can have a hearty, no nonsense meal that tastes just as good in the dead of night as it does when the sun is up.


Open Until: 12am Sun-Thur, 2:30am Fri-Sat

Northside Mexican taco truck El Taconazo might be open all day, but it really pops off late at night. Open late every night, El Taconazo is the after party after the after party. Food pops out of the truck window about three seconds after you order it, so don’t worry about the long line–it moves fast. Grab a few trompo and barbacoa tacos, a plate of fajita beef with gooey cheese, and a couple sides of frijoles charros. Spread everything out on the hood of your car, and join the party forming around you.


Open Until: 12am Sun-Mon, 1am Thurs-Sat

The Almighty Moon Tower Inn in the East End is known for three things: hot dogs made from wild game meats, a lot of beer, and a f*ck-you attitude most people admire. It also happens to be open late every night, which kind of goes with the attitude. Moon Tower Inn is mostly a giant patio with a few shipping containers functioning as the tap wall and kitchen. Yet despite the divey, industrial exterior, the hot dogs are pretty gourmet: think duck meat with apple brandy or wild boar ground together with marsala and provolone. So, embrace the drunken outlaw vibe, especially if you need a ridiculous hotdog to get through the evening or a giant cheeseburger after a late-night arrival at Hobby Airport—and make sure to order the potato salad.


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