here was a time not long ago when few restaurants served
meals later in the evening, except for some bars that had
predictable menus of burgers or pizza. Fortunately for
anyone in search of a meal or substantial snack after 10 p.m.,
options now abound in cities nationwide. This also bodes well
for restaurant operators seeking added revenue.
True, a few cities that seem to never sleep—New York, Miami
Beach, Las Vegas, San Francisco—have had late-night dining
options as part of their culture for a long time. Now other cities
that used to roll up their streets fairly early are both creating and
meeting customer demands to eat later.
a small bar into the 86-seat lounge to meet a demand from both
hotel guests and locals for food in a restaurant setting, rather than
being limited to ordering room service later in the evening.
SAN DIEGO COMFORT FOOD
Until recently, the later-night lifestyles of San Francisco and Los
Angeles did not extend down the coast to San Diego, says Matt
Hoyt, partner in the city’s Starlite, which specializes in organic
comfort food. “Drive-thru Mexican used to be the only thing
open late in San Diego. My partners and I said there has to be a
place where you can get responsibly sourced comfort food.”
So they opened Starlite a few years ago, and ran the whole menu
till midnight on weekends and a limited menu on weeknights,
when staffing is more of an issue. “It’s better to do simple things
and do them well,” Hoyt says.
“This is unusual for Santa Fe, and demand is growing,” says Alfred
Matter, managing director. “Nobody in town was offering anything
with nice atmosphere.”
Most popular among hotel guests and locals coming in after concerts
or other events are small plates meant for sharing, all priced at $7.
Some of the choices with Santa Fe accents are calamari fritti with
a chile/lime dip and three-cheese bacon-wrapped stuffed jumping
jalapeño with prickly pear sauce. A spa menu staple is seared tuna
with avocado and tomato and apple/fennel drizzle.
Some of the staples on Starlite’s late-night menu are fish, steak,
burgers, grilled chicken, grilled cheese, salad and housemade
charcuterie. “We sell quite a bit of our fresh greens salad after
10 p.m.,” Hoyt notes.
The lounge serves food till midnight Thursday-Saturday and 11 p.m.
Regular customers include locals who enjoy outdoor activities
early in the evening and eat later, as well as travelers arriving at
the nearby airport on evening flights. Those in the know take cabs
to Starlite before checking into their hotels, Hoyt says.
MORE THAN PIZZA IN CHICAGO
Chicago’s stereotypical foods can be had at all hours, but
choices recently have expanded to all kinds of food being
offered later than ever. People in search of a satisfying repast
after a sporting event, concert or long day at the office can
find everything from sushi to steak at dozens of downtown
EATING LATE IN SANTA FE
The months-old Agave Lounge in Santa Fe’s venerable Eldorado
Hotel & Spa has added a late-night element to a city that previously
offered little more than burgers and pizza after traditional dinner
hours. The hotel transformed a couple of private dining rooms and
The Windy City may not party as late as some of its coastal
counterparts, but now hearty meals and snacks can be found at
many places as late as 2 a.m., or at least till midnight. Newer
spots, such as Paris Club, owned by R.J. and Jerrod Melman,
sons of Chicago restaurant tycoon Richard Melman, serve a
substantial late-night menu. Paris Club’s late-night offerings are
PHOTO CREDIT: Previous page left, Derek Plank, previous page right, Anjali Pinto
LEFT: Locals and visitors alike flock to Starlite, which serves up a late-night
menu of organic comfort food.
RIGHT: A substantial menu is available at Paris Club until 2 or 3 a.m.
ABOVE: Chef Dean Zanella at Rhapsody attracts the post-concert crowd with such
dishes as this grilled smoked prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with chickpea purée,
Calabrian peppers and mint.