Chicago's not much of a late-night dining town; most restaurants shut down by 10 or 11pm, leaving night owls with the munchies out of luck. But if you know where to go, you can still get a decent meal past midnight. Here are a few spots that serve real food until real late:
In the Loop, your best -- and practically only -- choice is Miller's Pub, 134 S. Wabash Ave. (tel. 312/645-5377), which offers hearty American comfort food until 2am daily. Many late-night visitors to this historic watering hole and restaurant are out-of-towners staying at neighboring hotels.
In the South Loop, food is available until 4am at Bar Louie, 47 W. Polk St. tel. 312/347-0000). The menu is a step above mozzarella sticks and other standard bar food: Focaccia sandwiches, vegetarian wraps, and salads are among the highlights.
After a night out, Wicker Park and Bucktown residents stop by Northside Café, 1635 N. Damen Ave. (tel. 773/384-3555), for sandwiches and salads served until 2am (3am Sat). In nice weather, the front patio is the place to be for prime people-watching.
The bright, welcoming atmosphere at Clarke's Pancake House, 2441 N. Lincoln Ave. (tel. 773/472-3505), is a dose of fresh air after an evening spent in dark Lincoln Park bars. Yes, there are pancakes on the menu, as well as plenty of other creative breakfast choices, including mixed skillets of veggies, meat, and potatoes. If you need to satisfy a really late-night craving, Clarke's is open 24 hours.
When the Lincoln Park bars shut down at 2am, the action moves to the Wieners Circle, 2622 N. Clark St. (tel. 773/477-7444). This hot dog stand is strictly no-frills: You shout your order across the drunken crowd, get sassed by the counter staff, then try to snag a spot on one of the picnic tables out front (the only seating provided). Open until 4am during the week and 6am on weekends, the Wieners Circle is the center of predawn life in Lincoln Park -- and some people swear that the greasy cheese-topped fries are the perfect hangover prevention.
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