Samosa and Potato PattyAs any serious drinker knows, a long night of boozing is best ended with a heaping helping of carbohydrates. One good place to get your fill is the East Village deli called Punjab, which stays open into the wee hours to serve its clientele of Pakistani cabbies. But late-night Lower East Side revelers have also discovered the cheap vegetarian chow. There are potatoes over rice, potatoes wrapped in bread (roti, $2.50), potato patties (aloo tikki, $.75), or potatoes encased in fried dough (samosa, $.75). The samosas make for an ideal snack (chaat) anytime. A crisp, delectably greasy, well-browned crust wraps chunks of potatoes and green peas. Like everything at Punjab, it’s suffused with just the right amount of heat. Right after you’ve wolfed down the last bite, a slow burn creeps up, just this side of painful.

There is some protein available, since all the drivers stopping by do need to refuel. Among the over-rice options are a creamy spinach puree, a savory sauce of small round lentils, or a nutty stew of dark chickpeas. You can choose two toppings for $2.50 or three for $4.50. The vats of mostly brown concoctions in the deli’s case do not exemplify sparkling fresh cuisine, but they are all homemade and convey the comfort of soul food. Thanks to ample spices, portions, and clarified butter (ghee), you won’t miss the meat. For a revitalizing accompaniment, go for the frothy chai ($1), which may oddly enough remind some of Thanksgiving, scented as it is with whole cloves and cardamom.

Compared to other delis that cater to the Pakistani taxi trade, Punjab is friendlier to outsiders. The menu is printed in English, the foods in the case are labeled by number, and it’s not unusual to spot a woman tucking in to a bowl of curry here. It’s worth visiting even if you haven’t had one too many; in fact, then you might actually taste more.