We all know eating late at night is bad for you, but sometimes it’s entirely necessary. So whether you’re getting off a late shift at work, feeling hungry after a big night out, or just craving a midnight snack, these after-hours places have got you covered. Here are some of the best late night food joints in Chicago.
The Wieners Circle
Wiener Circle | © Ashleigh Bennett/Flickr
The famous sass at the quintessential late-night Chicago place began after the owner snapped at a drunk customer in the early ’90s, and it’s been a staple for the drunk and disorderly ever since. Fast and cheap, it’s the perfect place to pick up as many hot dogs, hamburgers and cheese fries as you can manage until 5 a.m. on weekends, as long as you can handle the abuse that many customers are drawn by.
Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
Always popular with the crowds from Wicker Park’s many bars and a night out destination in its own right, Big Star does tacos, whiskey and honky tonk, and what more could you ask for? The menu features a mouthwatering range of tacos and other Mexican treats, and cocktails if you can manage another drink. The kitchen stays open until 1:30 a.m. from Monday to Friday and 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and there’s a to-go window if you want to take it with you.
High Five Ramen
Restaurant, Ramen, $$$
If your desires are for something a bit healthier, then ramen is always a good choice. In the heart of trendy West Loop is High Five Ramen, a dark and cozy basement joint perfect for hunkering down over a steaming, late-night bowl. Famous for the heat of its broth, the full spice version “may hurt you” according to the menu, so be careful you don’t get overconfident if you’ve had a few drinks.
Harold’s Chicken Shacks
Harold's Chicken Shack #62 | © Aneil Lutchman/Flickr
Chicago’s favorite chicken chain dates all the way back to 1950, when Harold Pierce opened the first restaurant on 39th Street. There are now dozens of locations across the city, all independently owned and with their own individual quirks, but they’re all serving up the same menu of signature recipe fried chicken. And no matter how late it is when you order it, you can rely on your meal being cooked fresh for you.
Pizzaria, Italian, $$$
Late night is not really the time to be waiting around for deep dish, so if it’s pizza you’re craving then Dimo’s is the place, with its creative toppings sure to appeal at a late hour. Chicken and waffles, mac and cheese and a sweet s’mores pizza are just some of the unusual pies served up at this hip Wicker Park joint. It’s open late every night of the week too, while the Wrigleyville location is open late on weekends.
Technically, nowhere in the city stays open later than Jim’s Original because it never closes. In business since 1939, it’s the home of the polish sausage in Chicago, with the same simple combination of sausage, sweet onions, sport peppers and mustard still in place today. It’s also famous for its bone-in pork chop sandwich with the same toppings. Free fries with every sandwich is also a great bonus any time of day.
Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
As the sign outside says, Velvet Taco is open really late, but that’s not the only reason to head to this Gold Coast hotspot. Its range of exotic and unusual tacos features such exciting options as spicy tikka chicken, Nashville hot tofu, fried paneer, shrimp and grits and fish n’ chips. Don’t forget to accompany them with tater tots, a slab of red velvet cake and a margarita.
The Halal Guys
For something a bit hotter, Chicago has two The Halal Guys locations, with the Gold Coast restaurant your best option for late-night eats as it stays open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Evolving from a single hot dog stand in N.Y.C., this chain has since spread across the U.S. and Asia, selling sandwiches and platters of beef gyro, falafel and chicken, accompanied by hummus, baba ganouj and its famous white and hot sauce.