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Top Five Fridays: Late Night Dining

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 27, 2012 6:00PM

Photo by Arthur Lee.
People often complain that Chicago goes to bed too early; that there's nothing to do after 10 p.m. This is, of course, not true, but in certain neighborhoods we understand the frustration. It can be particularly difficult to get great food late at night. We asked our Food and Drink Staff to give their picks for great dining after dark.

Minna An: Head down to Chinatown.
I’m not usually a fan of the hazy late-night food choices, but there was a time when there was only one option for late night food amongst my friends: Seven Treasures in Chinatown. It’s a trek for most, but this all-hours-of-the-night Chinatown spot has the best food to soak up any lingering alcohol sloshing around the bottom of your stomach. Once you’re there you’ll hear the numbers “554” muttered around the room; trust your instinct and order the “554”, it's a big dish of BBQ pork and two fried eggs on a bed of rice, aka salty and savory late-night food perfection. 2312 S. Wentworth Ave.

Melissa Wiley: Hop on a train.
The Silver Palm: No, it's not outstanding food, but it doesn't have to be. It's 1:30 a.m. and it just feels ridiculously good to squeeze into this impossibly narrow train car bar with 25 other tipsy passengers. The Silver Palm has proclaimed its "three little piggy" sandwich the best in America, but I like the shrimp and scallop po' boy, extremely heavy on the tartar sauce, even better. 768 N. Milwaukee Ave.

John DiGilio: Boystown after dark.
On weeknights, there is nothing like the simple comforts of the Melrose Diner in Lakeview. from sandwiches to heavier fare, you can get your late night grub on old-school style. Prices are perfect for the after bar binge budget. Service is usually spot on, even in the wee hours. And the people watching can hardly be beat. When it comes to weekends, however, I hang my late night hat at Nookies Tree, also in Lakeview. The food is consistently good and, let's face it, when the bars let out in Boystown that joint is jumpin'! Whether you are looking for a midnight breakfast or an after clubbing club sandwich, Nookies is the place to eat and be seen. Melrose Diner: 3233 N. Broadway Ave.; Nookies: 3334 N. Halsted St.

Amy Cavanaugh: Late-night cheesesteaks.
I like to go to Dimo's Pizza (formerly Ian's) after a night out. It's insanely crowded anytime after midnight, so I take a slice or two home to eat while watching an episode of Parks and Rec. My favorite is the Philly cheesesteak, with thin slices of beef, red and green peppers, and cheese, though their most famous creation is the mac and cheese pizza. There's always a weekly special, and a recent hit was the chicken and waffles pizza, which had a drizzle of maple syrup. 3463 N. Clark St.

Chuck Sudo: Pretend You're At A Diner On Randolph Street
My disappointment with their burger aside, Au Cheval has easily become my favorite late night dining place in Chicago. Brendan Sodikoff's stylized take on a diner has a an overall stellar menu, an amazing beer list and a short but sweet cocktail menu. Au Cheval's Hemingway daiquiri is one of my favorite takes on that specific cocktail in the city, tart with a dry finish that serves as a perfect before dinner drink. And the food? Oh, Christ the food. The ham and cheese fondue, served with jumbo triangles of Texas Toast and topped with a fried egg, is a simple yet effective deconstruction of a ham and cheese sandwich. The kitchen also serves up some amazing hash browns, terrines, pickles and fries and their matzoh ball soup comes in one of the tastiest chicken broths I've had in a while. The Asian fried chicken is double fried and the crust shatters like crystal in your fingers. Finish any of these dishes off with a root beer float, made with Black Dog vanilla gelato. It's the best root beer float in Chicago. 800 W. Randolph St..