The Best Late Night Bites (Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.)
So you’ve had a few too many and in your drunken state, you realize the best way to combat that impending hangover is to eat. Smart move, especially because San Francisco is full of restaurants (especially of the greasy spoon variety) that cater to boozy hunger.
Good drunk food is like good comfort food: it’s not exactly healthy, but it’s filling and (hopefully) cheap. For all your booze munchies needs, I offer the following list of options in neighborhoods across the city. If you think I’ve forgotten anything, feel free to add ideas in the comments section.
10 p.m.Naan -N- Curry, Inner Sunset
Yes, there are many great Indian restaurants in the city, but few are open as late (or are as affordable) as Naan -N- Curry. Sure, a spicy curry dish might not be what you’re feeling for after five gin and tonics. But for some, a good lamb korma with naan is exactly what the doctor ordered.
King of Thai Noodle, Inner Richmond
When I’ve had at least three gimlets, I’m all about the noodle dishes. Thankfully, several King of Thai Noodle locations are open late (to around 1:30 a.m.) and serve heapings of pad thai, pad see ew, and various curries. And, in your drunken state you can tell yourself these dishes are relatively healthy, because bean sprouts are served with those noodles.
Escape from New York Pizza, Upper Haight
There are many great pizza-by-the-slice joints in the city, and plenty of them fly the Escape from New York Pizza logo. In college, pizza was the cure for all your problems. Here’s a secret: it still is.
11 p.m.Lucky Penny, Laurel Heights
Chili, waffles, and many varieties of sandwiches make this a great diner to hit when it’s time to give your liver a break. Known for its “breakfast served all day,” there are few better choices than pancakes and coffee to cure what ails you.
Nopa, Alamo Square
Maybe not the cheapest place to go after a few drinks, but if you’ve suddenly found yourself with company and want to make a good impression, settle into a booth or slide onto a bar stool at Nopa. The food selection ranges from European-style seafood to high-end gastro pub fare. Epic cheeseburgers, exceptional desserts, and oh yes, a full bar. It’s little wonder that Nopa has plenty of fans.
12 a.m.Taqueria Cancun, the Mission
Though reasonable minds can differ, Taqueria Cancun is arguably the best burrito place in the city, and its Mission location is positively hopping around closing time. I had a roommate who would swear by Cancun’s chicken burritos as the ultimate hangover prevention, allowing him to wake up at 8 a.m. after a long night of drinking and bike 30 miles. True story.
Fried pickles, pulled pork sandwiches, and yes, chicken and waffles. You can do yoga tomorrow. Tonight, though, you’re all about the hush puppies and wings. Located near Tempest in SoMa, Box offers up Southern comfort standards from a food stand; eating here will be the best decision of your night.
1 a.m.Tommy’s Joynt, Fillmore/Western Addition
Part deli, part bar, the inside of Tommy’s Joynt will remind you of either a beer hall or an English pub. Whatever the aesthetic, the place has some serious sandwiches. Offering corn beef, roast beef, and a hundred other meaty things, the menu is large and skews to the heavy side. It’s a great place to grab a long table, a pitcher, and settle in for a bit.
Kennedy’s Irish Pub & Indian Curry House, North Beach
Kennedy’s is a culinary chimera: a fantastic Irish pub surrounds an even better Indian restaurant. Incredibly cheap, and equipped with what everyone refers to as an “Indian burrito,” Kennedy’s is worth a visit at some point in your evening.
2 a.m.El Farolito, the Mission
Missionites know that El Farolito is a fantastic spot for burritos, quesadillas, and tacos. Located right near the 24th Street BART station, it should probably be your last stop before you make your trip home. The BART train doesn't make you nauseous, right?
New Sun Hong Kong Restaurant, North Beach/Telegraph Hill
Cantonese/Hong Kong–style Chinese food is perhaps the ideal drunken food: it’s heavy, it tastes great, and it’s relatively affordable. Try anything that ends in “fried rice.”
3 a.m.Sam’s, Telegraph Hill/Chinatown
Burgers, fries, and pizza are staples of the drunken diet, and Sam’s serves up these American favorites with love. Humble and unapologetic in what it does, Sam’s is a local haunt known for its no-frills approach to food and its jovial atmosphere. Come as you are, and leave satisfied.
Grubstake, Nob Hill
Whether you’re in the mood for French dip or cod and potatoes, this burger joint/Portuguese restaurant is great for dinner or a late night snack. Depending on how fancy you’re feeling in the late hour, you can grab a booth with friends and dine on some excellent caldo verde soup, or just share fries and a burger while you reminisce about an evening full of poor decisions.
4 a.m.Orphan Andy’s, Castro
Where I come from, 1950s-style diners comprise 50 percent of the late night dining options. But in the vastness of New Jersey’s diner scene, not one of them can touch Orphan Andy’s. With bright neon lights, classic fire engine red booths, and an enthusiastic Castro clientele, Orphan Andy’s is a great place to share scar stories, grab some fries and pork chops, and bask in the glow of San Francisco culture.
All Star Donuts, Inner Richmond
Sugar and carbs are great for a night that isn’t quite ready to end. Grab some coffee and a frosted number at All Star Donuts. With two locations (one in SoMa, one in the Inner Richmond), seasoned San Franciscans owe themselves a visit to this popular spot at one point or another.
5 a.m.Cafe Mason, Tenderloin/Union Square
If you want your late night eateries to have more of an Italian flavor, check out Cafe Mason. Fried fish, fried zucchini, and garlic bread are just some of the items on the expansive (and all-night) menu. Come in late enough and you’re bound to hear someone say: “No, no, the bread absorbs the alcohol, it’s the perfect way to get sober real quick.”
DNA Pizza, SoMa
Whether you love Hawaiian pizza or favor a slice with pesto, everyone has their favorite pizza place in the city, and for my money there’s no better spot than DNA Pizza. Open 24 hours and attached to DNA Lounge, one of the more popular local clubs, DNA Pizza deserves accolades not only for its convenience, but also for some fantastic pizza.
6 a.m.Bob’s Donut & Pastry Shop, Nob Hill
If you’ve been to the Polk Street bars, then you’ve likely happened into this oasis of food goodness. With seating at the bar and a wide selection of sugar bombs, it’s a great way to end the night or begin the next morning.
So, true story: The only time I’ve ever reconnected with someone via Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” was when I met a girl here at 3 a.m. That’s the kind of thing that happens at Sparky’s. The food is standard diner fare (milkshakes, hash and eggs) but the oddly creepy paraphernalia and boisterous crowds make it a favored spot for Mission/Castro/Lower Haight bar-goers.