Best place to eat dinner after 10 p.m.

Sacre Bleu

When the beautiful people want to eat beautiful food, they head to Sacre Bleu. This new see-and-be-scene restaurant initially served dinner until 11 p.m. But the demand for late-night dining was so high that it's since extended its kitchen hours beyond midnight. At any time of the evening, chef Don Gragg offers up French delights in the nouvelle spirit, using local ingredients and bringing his own flair to the flavor combinations. The exquisite dishes that result will grab your attention. And so will Sacre Bleu's other amenities: a cool bar with low lighting, a snappy staff and a good wine list, with a variety of champagnes for wee-hours celebrating. If you're not quite up to a full meal at this hour, Sacre Bleu is happy to let you order a bunch of appetizers and dessert, which means you can end your night with pan-seared scallops with coral butter and early truffles and a chocolate mousse. Or maybe that'll just get the evening started.
Breakfast King
Mark Antonation
At this point, your stomach -- and probably your soul -- needs some soothing. How about an open-faced roast beef sandwich on white bread with real mashed potatoes and enough rich, dark-brown gravy to float a boat? Or a plate of hash browns smothered in a mellow gringo green? When it comes to 24-hour dining, this decades-old spot -- heck, there's a waitress who's been here for 24 years -- is king. Slink into Breakfast King with the rest of the night crawlers and just try to focus your bloodshot eyes on the menu, a barrage of nearly a hundred choices, all of them seemingly involving some kind of gravy, all in portions big enough to feed two, and most under $6. The smoking section is twice the size of the non-, and since many of the patrons just got off the late shift and are looking for beer and some conversation, you'll snap wide awake as you listen to a harrowing emergency-room tale from a nurse, or, just as likely, a sad story from a guy whose wife just threw him out of the house as he shares with a trucker from Texas. Get one of the joint's fabulous milkshakes and settle in for the duration. After all, breakfast is just a few hours away, and the King rules then, too.

Readers' choice: Pete's Kitchen

At this point, your stomach -- and probably your soul -- needs some soothing. How about an open-faced roast beef sandwich on white bread with real mashed potatoes and enough rich, dark-brown gravy to float a boat? Or a plate of hash browns smothered in a mellow gringo green? When it comes to 24-hour dining, this decades-old spot -- heck, there's a waitress who's been here for 24 years -- is king. Slink into Breakfast King with the rest of the night crawlers and just try to focus your bloodshot eyes on the menu, a barrage of nearly a hundred choices, all of them seemingly involving some kind of gravy, all in portions big enough to feed two, and most under $6. The smoking section is twice the size of the non-, and since many of the patrons just got off the late shift and are looking for beer and some conversation, you'll snap wide awake as you listen to a harrowing emergency-room tale from a nurse, or, just as likely, a sad story from a guy whose wife just threw him out of the house as he shares with a trucker from Texas. Get one of the joint's fabulous milkshakes and settle in for the duration. After all, breakfast is just a few hours away, and the King rules then, too.

Readers' choice: Pete's Kitchen

Any meal is wonderful at Mel's Bar and Grill, but the appetizer menu alone is enough to make you get down on one hoof and start grazing. Risotto, a blue-crab cake, seared foie gras, an ahi tuna Napoleon and house-smoked salmon are some of the dozen-plus possibilities, with every starter wildly flavorful, artfully arranged and garnished, and generously portioned -- no itsy-bitsy nouvelle stinginess here. If you aren't counting calories or cholesterol, try the lobster "macaroni and cheese," surely one of the most decadent dishes ever, with velvety chunks of Maine lobster lovingly tossed with macaroni and mascarpone. You can make appetizers part of your dinner, of course, or sit at Mel's bar and order off the appetizer menu until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. The sharp staff will treat you as well as if you were running up a big tab in the dining room -- and you'll also be in a better position to take a gander at the forty-plus crowd and their mating rituals. While you're there, also check out Mel's special wine picks for the evening: They're usually fabulous wines you won't see anywhere else, priced at about $5 a glass.
Any meal is wonderful at Mel's Bar and Grill, but the appetizer menu alone is enough to make you get down on one hoof and start grazing. Risotto, a blue-crab cake, seared foie gras, an ahi tuna Napoleon and house-smoked salmon are some of the dozen-plus possibilities, with every starter wildly flavorful, artfully arranged and garnished, and generously portioned -- no itsy-bitsy nouvelle stinginess here. If you aren't counting calories or cholesterol, try the lobster "macaroni and cheese," surely one of the most decadent dishes ever, with velvety chunks of Maine lobster lovingly tossed with macaroni and mascarpone. You can make appetizers part of your dinner, of course, or sit at Mel's bar and order off the appetizer menu until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. The sharp staff will treat you as well as if you were running up a big tab in the dining room -- and you'll also be in a better position to take a gander at the forty-plus crowd and their mating rituals. While you're there, also check out Mel's special wine picks for the evening: They're usually fabulous wines you won't see anywhere else, priced at about $5 a glass.
How apropos that a restaurant that has chic customers swarming around it like, well, like bees around a hive, is actually named The Beehive. And the place is always buzzing, with well-dressed, disposable-income types jostling for position inside a tightly packed dining room that offers an ideal setup for people-watching. Because the space is long and narrow, no one gets in the door without calling attention to himself, and the folks waiting for a table -- the Beehive doesn't take reservations -- sit on display at the windows, their every move captured in the flickering reflection of the lights. Meanwhile, diners lucky enough to have found a seat are enjoying the attentions of Tim Elenteny, who runs the front of the house, while his wife and partner, Janice Henning, cooks up such New American-meets-Old-World dishes as a sour-cherry-kissed roast quail or a Moroccan-influenced duck confit. An order of the stunning panna cotta for dessert ends an evening just right. For both gazing and grazing, this place is a real honey.

How apropos that a restaurant that has chic customers swarming around it like, well, like bees around a hive, is actually named The Beehive. And the place is always buzzing, with well-dressed, disposable-income types jostling for position inside a tightly packed dining room that offers an ideal setup for people-watching. Because the space is long and narrow, no one gets in the door without calling attention to himself, and the folks waiting for a table -- the Beehive doesn't take reservations -- sit on display at the windows, their every move captured in the flickering reflection of the lights. Meanwhile, diners lucky enough to have found a seat are enjoying the attentions of Tim Elenteny, who runs the front of the house, while his wife and partner, Janice Henning, cooks up such New American-meets-Old-World dishes as a sour-cherry-kissed roast quail or a Moroccan-influenced duck confit. An order of the stunning panna cotta for dessert ends an evening just right. For both gazing and grazing, this place is a real honey.

Nothing at Rodney's, one of the last fern-bar holdouts, is ever expensive, but on Monday nights, its spaghetti special is as cheap as cheap gets. A bottomless plate of pasta covered with Rodney's heavy marinara and sided by a fat Italian sausage costs just $4.95 -- and that includes a nonstop supply of buttery garlic bread. Adding to the bargain is the fact that the people-watching, which includes chubby businessmen and their mistresses along with plenty of cocktail-swigging singles, is free.
Nothing at Rodney's, one of the last fern-bar holdouts, is ever expensive, but on Monday nights, its spaghetti special is as cheap as cheap gets. A bottomless plate of pasta covered with Rodney's heavy marinara and sided by a fat Italian sausage costs just $4.95 -- and that includes a nonstop supply of buttery garlic bread. Adding to the bargain is the fact that the people-watching, which includes chubby businessmen and their mistresses along with plenty of cocktail-swigging singles, is free.
A popular breakfast, lunch and dinner spot, Racines has long been known for its baked goods, especially the brownies. But lately we've become addicted to its big, fluffy cinnamon rolls, a quintessential version of the old favorite: light, soft, swirled with cinnamon, and with just the right number of raisins to ensure that you get a plump, sweet one every few mouthfuls. And then there's the icing on the cake, a super-sweet slick that turns into a sugary crust around the edges and pushes an ooze of butter over the top. Grab a cup of coffee and one of these babies, and you're starting the day on a roll.

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