It’s 3 a.m., and your self-restraint is lying on the bar alongside the change from your last whiskey ginger. Earlier in the night, you had a two-track mind, but now it’s getting late, and there’s only one thing you can think of. You suppress the thought, but your body keeps reminding you.
You need some g*ddamn food.
Here’s where to get it.
Steak fries and pickles. Piles of salty beef on bread. Late night, you want this. Go here when you’re too drunk to realize that was a haiku. On Fridays, the historic Katz’s on Houston doesn’t close. That means you can swing by and pick up a pastrami sandwich at 5 a.m. (and you probably should). The sandwiches are twenty dollars, but that’s okay because Andrew Jackson was a jerk, and you want his face out of your wallet.
Veselka has been around as long as we can remember. It’s a 24-hour Ukrainian diner that specializes in pirogies, borscht, and potato pancakes. Get the potato pancakes (also known as latkes), and order from their breakfast menu (they serve it all day). Design your own omelette if your brain is functioning properly, and hope you aren’t the drunkest one there. It’s near St. Mark’s, so you probably won’t be.
On Fridays, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is open until 7 a.m. This makes us wonder how many drunk people end up in the nearest burn ward. (It’s Korean barbecue, after all.) Order some cuts of beef or pork, and a server will grill them in the middle of your table. A cheese and corn dish will melt alongside. You’ll also get some snacks called banchan. And don’t touch the grill. Grill hot.
Get drunk with a date and tell them you’re taking them to Paris. Put your hands over their eyes, and only take them off once you get to L’Express. They’ll probably be pissed they’re not in Paris, but laugh it off and order the French onion soup. Visit this 24-hour brasserie on Park Avenue when you need a reasonably priced steak au poivre at 3 a.m. Also, the lamb burger is a hamburger but better.
If you come here drunk enough, you might think you’re dreaming. You’ll pick up a menu, and it’ll be filled with pictures of foods that your lazy drunk brain would’ve dreamt up: deep-fried octopus balls, deep-fried pizza, deep-fried frog legs and udon carbonara. You aren’t dreaming. (There’s sushi, ramen, and fried rice as well.) The kitchen at Sake Bar Hagi closes at 3, and if you’re in Midtown after midnight, this is the very best option.
This is the spot for late-late-night Chinese. The menu is Cantonese, which means, essentially, the Chinese food most Americans grew up with. Wo Hop is in a basement on Mott Street, and it feels sort of like a diner or a bright dive bar. They’re open until 7 a.m., so you if wake up hungover on the steps of a subway station, check your watch. You can probably still make it to Wo Hop
The Spicy Spring wants to be a part of your life. Even if you stay out all night, forget to call, and arrive visibly drunk at 1:30 in the morning, the Spicy Spring won’t say a word. Compliment the Spicy Spring on its heft. Tell the Spicy Spring that every other food means nothing to you. This might not be true, but something about this square Sicilian slice makes you feel as if you’re nine years old and back in elementary school, and tomorrow and every day after will be pizza day, forever.
Corner Bistro is a classic late-night move in the West Village. They’ve been open for over forty years, and it feels like they’ve been there longer. Stop by any time before 4 a.m., and get a burger that’s more beef than bun. Go often enough and behave yourself, and the bartender might choose to remember you. This is one way to become a New Yorker.
Plan a date in the East Village and meet up for gimlets at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge or by the pool table at Blue and Gold. That way, if the night ends in an awkward hug-and-goodbye at 2:30 in the morning, you can find some closure at Taqueria Diana. Tacos are an option, nachos are encouraged. Order the burrito al pastor. Consider it a giant Ambien that you chew.
What if Tom Hanks hadn’t found the Zoltar machine at end of Big? And what if his employers had fired him for faking his identity? He probably would’ve opened Sticky’s. They have s’mores fries and salted caramel chicken fingers. They’re also open until 3, and you don’t have to know the plot of Big to appreciate their assorted chicken poppers or bacon fries. Being drunk helps, however.
This is where you go when that last drink goes down perfectly, and everything becomes clear: money’s just paper that pays for things. And credit cards are plastic. And the first of the month is two weeks away, and, although you can’t sleep inside a late-night meal at Sushi Seki, you also can't eat your apartment. This is good sushi open late. Chef’s come here after work. Go to Sushi Seki on the Upper East Side when it’s 1 a.m. and you’re willing to pay for a higher quality of life.
During the day, there are probably other places you’d rather eat. But when it’s 3 a.m., and you’re four or five sheets to the wind, other late-night options in the area make Coppelia look like Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Across the street, there’s pizza or a gyro. At Coppelia, you can have a skirt steak with salsa verde and chicharron. Also, the servers won’t mind if you’re drunk. They’ll probably think it’s weird if you aren’t.
Daddy-O serves better-than-average bar food until 4 a.m., and it’s a good alternative to the abundant pizza of Bleecker Street. It’s also a neighborhood spot that’s relatively free of the type of people who use the word pregame in a context outside of sports. Stop by after a night of billiards at Fat Cat and pregame for the morning by drinking six pints of water.
The Upper West Side isn’t cool. If you think it is, you probably aren’t either. Take some baby steps, and start with Joe’s. They’re open until four, and they have big, meaty burgers. Grab a banquette along the wall. The lights are dim, the food is good, and you might even feel like you’re in a bar downtown (until the clubby playlist reminds you that CBGB’s wasn’t on Amsterdam and Joey Ramone probably didn’t spend his Friday nights catching Pavarotti at The Lincoln Center).
Moloko is cash only. So before you get drunk, stuff a wad of bills into one of your socks. Normally, we wouldn’t suggest this, but you’re going to get hungry later, and the Moloko late-night menu reads like a poem written by the hungriest person in the world. Do as you’re told, and you can have an oxtail burrito. If you’re bad, and you forget cash (or you throw up or you break something), you get nothing. The kitchen at this Bed-Stuy bar is open until 3.
Extra Fancy is either a restaurant that feels like a bar or a bar that feels like a restaurant. The kitchen is open until 3 on the weekends, and the late night menu includes oysters and salmon ceviche. Get a cheeseburger or a lobster roll and space out while staring at the fully functioning disco ball. Most people will be taking shots, so, you know, when in Williamsburg.
What else can we say about Blue Ribbon Brasserie? It’s open until 4, and it’s excellent. But this isn’t a spot for a cheap late-night snack. Go here with someone who wants to spend money, then play the game where you stuff your cheeks with bone marrow and fried chicken and try to say, “This is me balling out.” This game has no losers.
Chilo’s is a taco truck. Chilo’s is a bar. The taco truck is behind the bar. The tacos are dream things. Dream things are things you eat that make you want to dream about them. Get the carnitas. Get the smoked beef. Get drunk in Bed-Stuy because Chilo’s is open until 2 on weekends.
This Williamsburg bar is the poor man’s Blue Ribbon. Their fried chicken is also excellent, but in a sleazier sort of way. On weekends, the kitchen is open until 2, but if you come on a Friday or Saturday, expect many drunk people in a small, dark, crowded room. (The backyard is even smaller, so don’t pin your hopes on that either.) We suggest you take a deep breath then chug a few frozen margaritas to loosen your definition of personal space.
Sweet Chick is open until 2. Avoid the communal table, and sit at the bar. Late night isn’t for making friends. Late night is for eating fried chicken and upside-down pineapple cake. Lick your cake plate clean then turn to your neighbor and shrug while you apologize for being a boss. Go with renewed energy to Fresh Kills or Kinfolk and dance like you’re full of fried chicken.
The Meatball Shop was crazy busy when it opened. Now, other restaurants are serving cheap-ish good food, and it’s not so crowded anymore. But it’s still the same food, and the one on Stanton is still open until 4 on the weekends (as is the one in Williamsburg). The best part is you don’t even have to talk. Make your food selections with a marker on a laminated menu, and no one will notice you’re too drunk to make even the simplest words.
The interior of Hotel Delmano feels like an ocean liner that sank a long time ago. It’s a small bar on the corner of North Ninth and Bedford, and seating is mandatory. That doesn’t mean it’s stuffy, but it does mean that no one’s gonna dry hump your back while they shout at the bartender for another shot of Patron. Take that into account as well as the fact that you can get steak tartare at 1 a.m., and Hotel Delmano is a late-night must.