Top 10 late-night restaurants in the Twin Cities

We've all been there, sitting in a bucket seat of shame outside of Taco Hell. Tomorrow will bring suffering and regret.  Unfortunately, late at night there aren't many options for hot food beyond the SA hot dog roller thing. It doesn't have to be that way. We tracked down our favorite late-night eats from gourmet to gutter punk. Whatever your craving, we've got you covered.

10. Eli's East

Just at the edge of a bustling neighborhood, slouching into a burgundy, squeaky booth is the perfect way to unwind after a long night out with some above board bar fare. Sit by the window and watch as the frequency of taillights fades as the city settles down. A dish of their classic penne and cheese is a perfect before bed snack. Or break into the meal with some of their extra crispy wings with a glass of great booze.  Cocktails here are no rail affair, classic like martinis and Manhattans are perfectly crafted from the good stuff. It's a nice way to ease into the night. Food is served until 1am nightly.

Oh, the joys of springtime in Uptown! Melting snow reveals a yard full of dog crap and trash. Bars unleash their patrons on sidewalks and patios, and drunken revelers start shouting matches right outside your door. It's pointless to try to get any shut-eye before two in the morning, so you might as well get out of bed and join 'em at Chino Latino. While Uptown's bar-of-the-decade may be known for its offensive billboards, tropical drinks, and trendy crowds, its dirty little secret is that the food is really good. And Sunday through Thursday, between 10:30 p.m. and midnight, items on the happy-hour menu are so cheap you'd think you were in Latin America. (Seriously, most of the food costs less than a beer.) Start your meal with a couple of the $1 tacos, a changing selection that's as good as any at our best local taquerias. Then move on to a plate of $4 enchiladas, loaded with shredded chicken, black beans, guajillo chile salsa, and pepper jack cheese. Saving the best for last, finish out with the Pan de Muerto, or French Toast of the Dead, which is laden with sliced bananas and soaked in Meyer's rum caramel syrup. Twenty bucks can easily feed three or four people. (2916 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.824.7878)

8. Hard Times Café
There's a man carefully sorting out some sort of herbage on his cockeyed table. It's not the herb expected, but it's some sort of crop that apparently requires mindful separating. There's another sneaky customer finishing up a can of Guinness from his jacket pocket mid chess move. Most of the other guests inside the crusty Hard Times Café are laughing and sifting through piles of veggie-friendly foods and generally recovering from one thing or another. It's a collectively owned café that draws the nocturnal crowd, a refuge for musicians, artists, and other dwellers of the night. Biscuits and gravy make a perfect bridge from the jangling chorus of your night to the sweet refrain of morning. (1821 Riverside Ave., Minneapolis; 612.341.9261)

7. Caffrey's Sub's
After the bars close and the multitude of twinkling lights that illuminate Lyn/Lake dim, the lights and grills are still on inside Caffrey's Subs. The meat and veggies are splayed on the hot griddle, diced and tossed into a flavorful heap before being tucked, with a bit of cheese, inside a fat hoagie bun. The bread is griddled crisp on the exterior but easily surrenders to the tooth. Each bite works on the absorption of any poisons that may have earlier been introduced to the body (possibly courtesy of the nearby Country Bar). (3008 Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis; 612.822.5551)

Having already booked a table at the Dakota for business lunches, after-work drinks, and dinner, we're always looking for yet one more excuse to sample its haute-American cooking. And here it is: late-night happy hour. It only runs on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 11 p.m., but we're all getting a little bit old for staying out past midnight on a Tuesday, aren't we? The food-and-drink specials are worth waiting for the weekend: half-price cocktails made with our homegrown fave, Phillips Prairie Organic Vodka (try the Prairie Flower, with elder-flower liqueur and cranberry juice) and classic American snacks such as French fries, deviled eggs, chicken wings, peel-and-eat shrimp, and tiny walleye po' boys, which are all prepared with exacting, fine-dining panache. Get in before midnight and you can have a nice little feast for less than you'd get for that old Miles Davis album. Even better, you can catch the 11:30 set, which often features local up-and-coming jazz groups, for a $5 cover. (1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010)  

5. Barbette
Fries at any hour are welcome, especially when they are as addictively crispy, perfectly salted and served with Barbette's creamy aioli. Their late-night menu also includes some white-wine-redolent mussels. From hearty sandwiches to light and crisp salads, there's something on this menu to serve any evening craving. At this boho chic neighborhood café in Uptown, food is served until midnight seven days a week. (1600 W. Lake St., Min-neapolis; 612.827.5710)

Used to be, in this town, that late-night dining meant snagging a table at Little T's for a burrito. But the 112 Eatery changed all that. Designed as a place for post-shift chefs to wind down, 112 Eatery serves full gourmet meals until close, which is midnight Monday through Thursday and 1 a.m. on weekends. So take a seat in one of the deep booths--the ones along the wall that make you feel like you're somebody--and order a few of the small plates, maybe the lamb scottadito with goat's-milk yogurt, the pan-fried gnocchi, the cauliflower fritters, or the sautéed sweetbreads in a clam-and-porcini sauce. The menu offers everything from a humble bacon-and-egg sandwich slathered with harissa to, say, a more haute monkfish served with roasted salsify and crab. The food at 112 is so good it's nearly impossible to find a table during peak hours without a reservation. But if you go late, you can reap the rewards of spontaneity. (112 N. Third St., Minneapolis; 612.343.7696)

Top 10 late-night restaurants in the Twin Cities

3. Pizza Luce, Warehouse District
Like traveling to the darkest depths of the sea and turning on a light, a nighttime visit to the downtown Minneapolis Pizza Lucé will yield some spectacular views of nightlife. Open until 2:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday, the restaurant draws a crowd that's a late-night cornucopia of city life: hipsters looking to sober up after shows at First Avenue or the Fine Line; beer-slamming college students looking to score a cheap slice; a loud but friendly group of people on a performance high from the midnight open-mic cabaret Balls; and a random guy in a leather jacket doing the moonwalk. (What's his story? We may never know.) If the midnight pizza run is too clichéd for you, Lucé serves up a variety of rockin' sandwiches, many of them veggie and vegan, and pasta dishes you can load up with your choice of ingredients and sauces. (119 Fourth St., Minneapolis; 612.339.2400)

Top 10 late-night restaurants in the Twin Cities

2. Haute Dish
Haute Dish offers a classy alternative to the chaotic bar-and-club scene along Hennepin and First avenues in downtown Minneapolis. Late in the evening the barstools are mostly all filled, but the crowds aren't crushing. The music is loud enough to give the place buzz but not so cranked up that you have to resort to shouting. After a night of drinking, the meat-heavy menu from chef-owner Landon Schoenefeld makes for some fine alcohol-tempering fare. Crackling fried chicken, on a bed of greens and shrimp-studded grits, satisfies late-night cravings. As does the Monte Cristo, which is sort of like a ham-turkey-and-Swiss French toast sandwich, enhanced at Haute Dish with a few slices of foie gras to add a little je ne sais quois. Also noteworthy: Haute Dish is conveniently located next to Sex World, in case late-night diners want to, uh, extend the evening even longer. (119 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8484)

Top 10 late-night restaurants in the Twin Cities

1. Blue Door Pub
It used to be unheard of--a restaurant in St. Paul open after 8 p.m.? The line around the block day and night at the Blue Door tells a different story. Here you can order a "Blucy" (their term for a cheese-in-burger meal) until midnight. Combine breakfast and dinner with a Breakfast Blucy, a burger stuffed with cheese and topped with a fried egg and thick-cut bacon. Or just skip right to the Jiffy Burger: Topped with crunchy peanut butter, bacon, mayo, pickles, it's the right kind of wrong. Served with a side of Blue Door's exquisite French fries, it's about all a night owl could ask for. (1811 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651.493.1865)

Previous coverage:

Top 10 dive bars in the Twin Cities

Top 10 romantic restaurants in the Twin Cities

Top 10 bloody Marys in the Twin Cities

Top 10 margaritas in the Twin Cities

Top 10 macaroni & cheese dishes in the Twin Cities

Top 10 burgers in the Twin Cities

Top 10 sushi restaurants in the Twin Cities

Top 10 ice cream shops in the Twin Cities

Top 10 coffeehouses in the Twin Cities

Top 10 hot dogs in the Twin Cities

Top 10 pizzerias in the Twin Cities

Top 5 brewpubs in the Twin Cities

All of these lists are available on City Pages' new Best of the Twin Cities app. Click here to see it in action.

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