New York might be the City That Never Sleeps, but just because you've worked up an appetite challenging Matt S. in a vicious Quiz Up battle at 5 a.m. doesn't mean your favorite restaurant's still open. Thankfully, there are plenty of restaurants that do operate all day and all night, satisfying a New Yorker's need to shovel pre-prepared food into their mouths on command. Here are a few of our favorites (RIP FLORENT!) that aren't diners; be sure to leave yours in the comments. And if it's a list of late-night diners you're after, check out our round-up from 2013.
EMPANADA MAMA: Empanada Mama has been heralded as one of the kings of late night eats in Manhattan, serving up Latin American staples round-the-clock for nearly a decade. Though its Midtown space is modest (read, narrow), there's usually plenty of seating, and what's a little claustrophobia when you're famished at 5 a.m.? Empanada Mama serves everything from arepas to tapas to heavier entrees like spicy pollo alla plancha ($16).
But if you've stumbled in post-witching hour, your best bet here is their signature dish—piping hot empanadas range from Caribbean-style roast pork "reggaeton" ($2.80) to hot dog and cheese "Americano" ($2.80) to classic chorizo, shredded chicken or broccoli and cheese ($2.65); you can even get $2.80 dessert-type empanadas (Belgian milk chocolate and banana, apples and cinnamon, mozzarella and plaintains, etc.) if you're craving some kind of sugary nightcap nosh.
Empanada Mama is located at 763 9th Ave between 51st and 52nd Streets in Hell's Kitchen (212-698-9008, empmamanyc.com). There is also an express location on the Lower East Side that closes at 5 a.m. Follow them on Facebook.
WO HOP: Avoid the week-old crab dumplings in your fridge, no matter how plagued you are by drunchies—this Chinatown spot serves stellar Chinese food at all hours, and for low prices. Wo Hop's menu is massive and runs the full gamut, offering everything from cold sesame noodles ($4.50) to chicken/pork/vegetable/shrimp lo meins ($5-$8) to a variety of sweet-and-sour proteins ($8-$12), and all the things in between. Make sure you get a table downstairs, and be prepared to wait even late into the night; the restaurant is tiny, and its refusal to shut its doors makes it a prime destination for LES and Chinatown night-dwellers.
VESELKA: Few foods soak up a long night out more successfully than pierogi, those delectable little boiled and fried dumplings stuffed with booze-soothing things like cheese, meat and veggies. And Veselka, Second Ave's longstanding 24-hour Ukrainian joint, is a prime spot for scoring said treats after a particularly brutal night out in the East Village. Pierogi come stuffed with your choice of potato, cheese, meat, spinach and cream cheese, sauerkraut and mushroom or arugula & goat cheese, with four-piece plates running $6.95 and 7-piece plates running $10.95. If, inexplicably, pierogi are not your thing, opt for Veselka's borscht or chicken soup ($3.75-$6.75), try the keilbasa ($17.95) or brave the stuffed cabbage ($14.75) before heaving yourself home.
Courtesy See-Ming Lee's flickr
FRENCH ROAST: French Roast isn't quite as fancy as it sounds, despite all the cute Parisian bistro decor. But for an all-hours eatery, this chainlet's about as upscale as it gets, serving up high-end entrees like steak au poivre ($25), grilled maple-glazed salmon ($18) and mussels provencale ($17) well into the wee A.M. hours. The best dishes at both French Roast locations come in sandwich form; the $16 signature burger is stocked with french onion soup, gruyere and an egg on top of the brioche bun, and classics like Croque Monsieurs (grilled cheese with ham, $14) and Croque Madames (grilled cheese with a sunnyside egg, $15.75) are worth a late-night bite as well.
French Roast has two locations in Manhattan: 2340 Broadway between 84th and 85th Streets on the Upper West Side (212-799-1533, frenchroastny.com), and at 78 West 11th Street between 5th and 6th Aves in Greenwich Village (212-533-2233, frenchroastny.com). Follow the uptown and downtown locations on Facebook.
CAFETERIA: This chichi Chelsea hotspot's gotten a few grey hairs since its Sex and the City glory days, but if you're yearning to see a model pretend to eat a burger at 5 a.m., THIS IS IT, baby. Menu-wise, Cafeteria sticks with the simple stuff—late night eats of note include a grilled cheese sandwich and bacon/leek soup deal ($12), sides like sweet potato fries with garlic aioli sauce ($6) and their speciality meatloaf ($19), in addition to the aforementioned signature Cafeteria Burger ($13).
But Cafeteria's best, most decadent offering is its macaroni and cheese dishes, which come drenched in cheddar and fontina and are served with your choice of smoked gouda and bacon ($11), truffle oil ($13) or with three cheeses and an herb crust ($13); you can also opt for their "Mac Attack" tasting of all three for $15. Enjoy those trippy dairy dreams, folks.
COPPELIA: We were stoked about this little Cuban luncheonette when it opened back in 2011, and it's still holding strong three years later, serving feisty Latin breakfast and dinner dishes at all hours of the day. 4 a.m. bests include the Lomo saltado ($18.95), a Peruvian stir fry dish made of tender beef short ribs, onions, tomatoes and ginger served over rice and fries; the Churrasco ($19.95), sizzling grilled skirt steak served with moros and sweet plaintain, is also very good, as are the arepas ($8.95) and pan con lechon sandwiches ($8.95).
Another bonus are Coppelia's $11 Cuban-inspired cocktails— the Mojito Caribeno, for instance, is a sweet concoction made with Bacardi rum, muddled mint, lime and sugar; the piscolado a beachy combination of Pisco Porton, Donn Q coconut rum, pineapple and lime juices, and the aptly-boozy Hemingway Royale comes with ginger-infused dark rum, mint, lime, Royale Combier liquer and champagne.
GRAND MORELOS: Williamsburg's no stranger to the late-night dining scene, but do yourself a favor and trade in tepid french fries at Kellogg's Diner for a post-drinking feast at this beloved Mexican eatery. Grand Morelos is into the basics—top offerings include a wide variety of tortas ($3.99-$4.50), chicken and beef fajitas ($7.95-$8.75) and chilaquiles ($4.50-$6). The joint also offers standard diner fare like burgers and shakes, if that's more your thing; plus, it doubles as a bakery, rewarding patrons with tasty treats like tres leches cake for purchase.
Grand Morelos is located at 727 Grand Street between Graham and Humboldt Streets in East Williamsburg (718-218-9441).
EMPIRE BISCUIT: Hello, 4 a.m. breakfast biscuit. This Alphabet City newcomer's been serving up biscuit buns stuffed with jam and foie gras for a few months now, and it's working its way up to becoming a post-midnight must-have. Though, admittedly, the offerings here aren't quite up to the standards of a bonafide Southern biscuit, they're pretty damn good; our favorites include the signature Backyard Ham and Egg biscuit sandwich ($6.95), the chocolate & cayenne Butter with coffee whipped cream Kiki biscuit ($4.50) and the super-crispy spicy fried chicken sandwich ($8.50). You can also opt for a make-your-own deal if your palate's feeling adventurous ($4.50-plus).
HAHM JI BACH: If you happen to be in need of an after-hours nibble in Flushing/Murray Hill—that would be Murray Hill Queens—this Korean joint's got 24-hour barbecue service. If you're going with a group, go for the bulgogi dishes, the Galbi Gui (barbecued beef short ribs) or the signature Samgyupsal (pork belly); they've also got plenty of complimentary banchan, or veggie side dishes, to offset all that heavy late-night meat. Do note that while Hahm Ji Bach is open 24-hours on weekdays, it closes before midnight on weekends.
Hahm Ji Bach is located at 41-08 149th Place in Flushing, Queens (718-460-9289, hahmjibach.com).
MOLINO ROJO RESTAURANT: This Latin American hybrid spot sits right near Yankee Stadium, making it a solid midnight destination whether you're hungry post-game or just took the train up to toss bottles in memory of Alex Rodriguez's testosterone levels. Before you spend $45 on a single hot dog and a Budweiser, bulk up on gut-busting specialities like $8 pernil (roast pork and beans), mofongo (Puerto Rican fried plantain dish) with roast pork or shrimp ($10.50) and Carne de Res Frita (fried beef, $10.95). In the off season, the homey Spanish comfort food cures the winter blues quicker than CC's fastball.
Molino Rojo is located at 101 East 161st Street in the Concourse Village section of the Bronx (718-538-9642, molinorojorestaurant.com).