Best late-night eats photo
(Taylor Gourmet; Evy Mages for the Washington Post)

Best late-night eats

Lavanya Ramanathan, Fritz Hahn and Justin Rude  |  Updated 04/18/2012

Grabbing a post-drink meal or midnight snack once meant heading to a diner or big-slice joint. Today, a growing number of Washington-area eateries are keeping the fires burning till the wee hours; suddenly, midnight is prime time for crepes, Korean fried chicken, kimchi hotdogs, Philly-style hoagies and good-old fashioned pie.

 

Taylor Gourmet

+ Multiple Locations

The availability of authentic Philadelphia-style hoagies in D.C. was enough of a novelty three years ago that Taylor Gourmet was an instant sensation when it opened in the Atlas District. The ability to sink your teeth into a 9th Street Italian (Genoa salami, capicola, prosciutto and provolone) or Spring Garden, a veggie sandwich, till 3 a.m. still makes the H Street location a sensation; the 14th Street location stays open even later, to 3:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

 

Mandu

Washington, DC

After dinner service is over, the kitchen at Mandu's Fifth and K location begins a second shift of sorts, cranking out Korean-meets-Mexican bar snacks. Night owls sup on Korean fried chicken, piquant quesadillas oozing with cheese and buttery caramelized kimchi, and tacos stuffed with bulgogi or pillows of egg-battered tofu and peppery cucumber slaw. Mandu's late-night curiosities are served nightly, but only at the bar. They run $5-$7. (Monday-Saturday 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday 10 p.m. to midnight.)

 

New Big Wong

Washington, DC

Ask restaurant workers or bartenders where they head after their kitchens are closed, and one name comes up again and again: New Big Wong. Skip traditional Americanized dishes and go for the Fried Good Dale, a punchy dish of curried noodles, pork and shrimp, the spicy, crispy beef, or any of the chef's recommended squid dishes. New Big Wong gets slammed between 3 and 4 a.m. as bars close. Get in before then for a better chance of getting a table. (Sunday-Thursday till 3 a.m.; Friday and Saturday till 5 a.m.)

 

The Passenger

Washington, DC

It's convenient that one of the best area drinking establishments also happens to be one of the best spots for impromptu belly-up-to-the-bar dining. From a classic and uncomplicated muffuletta to the kimchi hot dog, the Passenger delivers the goods in a surprising spot. A perfect place post-Verizon Center, it's equal parts carefully crafted cocktail and salty, spicy sandwich. (Monday-Thursday till 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday till 2 a.m.)

 

Dangerously Delicious Pies

Washington, DC

The dainty bakery (a faintly rockerish Baltimore export) provides a sugar high for a steady stream of night owls. They come for the Baltimore Bomb, a pie filled with crushed, chocolate-frosted Berger cookies; the SMOG (with steak, mushroom, onion and gruyere cheese); the chocolate-peanut butter chess, or one of the 15 or so other varieties baked fresh at 10 p.m. The nightly offerings (slices of sweet pies are $6.50; savory slices are $7.50) are listed on the chalkboard. Nearly all the fruit pies are vegan, and an addictive tofu-curry savory pie is a weekend staple. (Friday and Saturday till 3:30 a.m.; Monday-Thursday till midnight.)

 

Bistrot du Coin

Washington, DC

For more than a decade, Bistrot du Coin has been a boisterous slice of France in upper Dupont: Customers merrily sip wine and Belgian beers at the zinc-topped bar and waiters hustle large platters of steak frites and mussels through the crowded dining room. Late-night craving for steak tartare? Pas de probleme! Table for 4 at 12:15? Right this way, madame, and don't miss the butcher-paper list of the owner's favorite (deeply discounted) wines of the moment. (Sunday through Wednesday till midnight; Thursday through Saturday till 1 a.m.)

 

Bullfeathers

Washington, DC

In 2010, the Capitol Hill institution was purchased and renovated by the group that owns Stoney's, Tunnicliff's and Ulah Bistro. When the doors reopened, Bullfeathers fans were met with a new 45-foot bar, 31 beers on draft and a new menu of such American classics as house-cured corned beef, stacked club sandwiches, burgers, crabcakes and steak. (Weekends till 1 a.m.)

 

Patty Boom Boom

Washington, DC

None of U Street's copious late-night eats have quite the imprimatur of curry-scented cool that Patty Boom Boom does; on the ground floor of the reggae club, a scene has emerged around a counter that serves up a half-dozen varieties of flaky Jamaican patties, from the so-spicy-you'll-sweat vegetarian Caribbean vegetable (one of the most popular) to the exotic guava goat. If you can finagle your way past the weekend lines (tell the bouncer you just want to get a patty), you can get three of the fist-sized pockets for $5; dip them in the thick, addictive mango sauce, and wash them down with a Red Stripe, rum punch or one of the colorful Jamaican sodas that beckon from behind the counter. (Friday and Saturday till 3 a.m.; Sunday-Thursday till 2 a.m.)

 

Fast Gourmet

Washington, DC

It's 3 a.m. on a Saturday and you're out on U Street. You're not out of luck: It's only two blocks to the gas-station haven Fast Gourmet, where brothers Juan and Manuel Olivera serve some of the region's best sandwiches until 5 a.m. Their specialty is the chivito, a Uruguayan classic that features beef tenderloin, mozzarella, Black Forest ham, bacon, mushrooms sauteed with balsamic vinegar and mayonnaise on a sub roll. The portion is heroic, which makes the $13 price tag a little easier to swallow. (Friday and Saturday till 5 a.m.)

 

Muncheez Mania

Washington, DC

In a clubby-looking cubbyhole on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, Muncheez Mania serves an array of Lebanese-inspired wraps, including falafel, and a more straightforward BLT, all folded into made-to-order sheets of a flatbread called saj. But for late-night grease cravings, it's all about the fries and the crepes: The cooks here turn out addictive, spongy crepes, soaking with Nutella or butter or even peanut butter and jelly, till 4 a.m. (and at $2.99 to $4.99, they're a steal). (Thursday till 3 a.m.; Friday-Saturday till 4 a.m.)

 

Graffiato

Washington, DC

We're not entirely opposed to late-night pizza -- certainly not when it's being crisped to a golden brown in the pizza oven at Mike Isabella's classy Graffiato. On Fridays and Saturdays, eat till midnight, or camp out at the bar, and nosh on pizza till last call, just before 2 a.m.

 

The Diner

Washington, DC

This Adams Morgan mainstay isn't just beloved for its late hours (and all the memories Washingtonians have made there), but its surprisingly tasty diner fare: mac and cheese creamy with gruyere, the heaping Royale platter, burgers, reubens, pies and even the hot cocoa is a treat. It tends to get a huge line on weekends, so the best nights at the Diner might just be weeknights. (24 hours)

 

Haydee's

Washington, DC

If you're wrapping up a night at the Raven Grill or Marx Cafe in Mount Pleasant, it's practically ritual to gather around a table with your D.C. family to sip margaritas and eat guacamole under Christmas lights and depictions of the Virgin Mary. That (and the fact that you can order pupusas till 1:30 a.m. even on a Monday night) is the charm of Haydee's, if not the uber-loud mariachi music. (Friday-Saturday till 2:30 a.m.; Sunday-Thursday till 1:30 a.m.)

 

Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean Grill

Annandale, VA

Brash, loud and full of flavor, Honey Pig in Annandale is a scene at any hour, but there is something especially fun about the crowds that descend on the 24-hour Korean barbecue late on weekend nights. As clubs let out, revelers stream into the corrugated aluminum-lined dining room for bulgogi and spicy pork belly, cooked tableside and tended by an attentive force of scissor and chopstick-armed servers. The dining room hums with conversation from the largely Korean clientele and a steady throb of Korean pop hits. Entrees hover around $15 and are meant to be shared. If you manage to get there before 2 a.m., when alcohol sales end in Virginia, you can enjoy a selection of soju and Korean beer. (24 hours)

 

Hard Times Cafe

Arlington, VA

In Clarendon at 12:01 a.m.? There are plenty of bars where you can hear a cover band or find that special flip-flop-wearing someone, but if you're trying to get something to calm those hunger pangs, your choices are more limited. So give a tip of the broken-in Virginia Tech cap to Hard Times Cafe, which keeps its kitchen sending out plates of spicy wings and bowls of hearty chili mac (delicious veggie version available) and Frito pie for a full hour after everyone else's last call. (Sunday-Thursday till 1:45 a.m.; Friday-Saturday till 2:45 a.m.)

 

Ben's Chili Bowl

Washington, DC

A Washington institution open on U Street for more than 50 years, Ben's attracts a mix of tourists, regulars and late-night partiers till the wee hours. On weekend nights, prepare to wait in line for the famous chili-topped half-smokes and burgers. (Monday-Thursday till 2 a.m.; Friday-Saturday 4 a.m.; and Sunday through 11 p.m.)

 

Spider Kelly's

Arlington, VA

All the pheromones here can take away from the fact that Spider Kelly's in Clarendon has a handy little kitchen open until 1 a.m., serving crispy house-made fried chicken, fried pickles, tater tots buried under bacon, cheese and chives, buffalo chicken sandwiches, and even healthy options such as fresh veggie pitas and southwestern chicken salads. But just because the kitchen is open doesn't mean you can eat, especially on a Friday night, when you have to elbow your way to a sliver of counter. Visit the small bar in the dining room, which is a frequent refuge. (Daily til 1 a.m.)

 

Ravi Kabob House

Arlington, VA

There is a full menu of Pakistani kabobs, curries and karahis (shareable, sauce-heavy dishes cooked and served in the eponymous dish), but the real star at this Clarendon spot is the red-hued spiced chickpeas: tender, slightly oily and packing a heat that doesn't overwhelm the flavor. Weekend trips to Ravi Kabob house are always a bit of a circus, but as a late-dinner option in Arlington it can't be beat. Just make sure you prepare for the cash-only register and bring along some extra patience: It can take a while to find parking and a seat, especially once the cab drivers start punching out and settling in. (Fridays and Saturdays till 2 a.m.)

 

Addis Ababa

Silver Spring, MD

This mainstay of Silver Spring is one of our top picks in a crowded field for Ethiopian food in the region. Its kitchen stays kitchen open till 12:30 a.m., perfect if your late-night jones happens to be for a hubcap-size platter of tibs and injera. The only negatives: The rooftop dining area doesn't keep quite the same late hours, and the restaurant will occasionally close early if there are no customers. So call ahead. (Nightly till 12:30 a.m.)

 

Hollywood East Cafe

Wheaton, MD

This red-walled restaurant, practically hidden in Wheaton Mall, is known for dim sum, but till 1 a.m. on weekends and midnight on weekdays, Hollywood East will cook up any item on its interminable menu, whether it's veggie lo mein or a rare congee (rice porridge). The service is so friendly, it'll inspire you to come back just a few hours later for the dim sum. (Friday and Saturday till 1 a.m.; Monday-Thursday till midnight.)

 

Amsterdam Falafelshop

Washington, DC

After years of nothing but peddlers of giant slabs of pizza in the late-night hours, Amsterdam Falafelshop's arrival in Adams Morgan was a revolution. The delicious crunchy fare it serves has kept it a favorite. The falafel is fried fresh to order, then customers get to work at the garnish bar, cramming their pitas with spicy green sauce, eggplant, hummus and pickled cabbage. You'd be remiss if you skipped the fries. (Sunday-Monday till midnight; Tuesday and Wednesday till 2:30 a.m.; Thursday till 3 a.m.; Friday-Saturday till 4 a.m.)

 

Stained Glass Pub

Silver Spring, MD

Almost the definition of a neighborhood tavern, the Stained Glass Pub has been serving up thin-crust pizza and domestic pitchers to locals since 1973. It's the kind of place that hosts Little League banquets during the day, game viewings and trivia nights in the evening and hungry late-night crowds until 1 a.m. on the weekend. The come-as-you-are atmosphere and ample space make it a great place for groups and post-game eats.(Friday and Saturday till 1 a.m.)

 

Amphora Diner Deluxe

Herndon, VA

Late at night in Herndon, crowds head to this sprawling diner, perhaps for its equally sprawling menu, which can satisfy a craving for huevos rancheros or falafel or "eggs Halifax." A bakery is a crucial component of Amphora's business, so don't be surprised by sweet offerings including Bavarian cake and eclairs. (24 hours)

 

Osman & Joe's Steak 'n Egg Kitchen

Washington, DC

American University students might find themselves at this divey greasy spoon on a warm summer night and not mind; For greasy food in the middle of the night, it'll hit the spot. Note: With just a handful of seats inside, and more outdoor seating, you might skip this one on a blustery winter night. (24 hours)

 

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe

Washington, DC

This late-night destination in Dupont Circle serves higher-end fare in the rich, dark cafe behind a bookstore, making it a favorite closer to great date nights. (Till 1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday; 24 hours Friday & Saturday.)

 

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