World’s most stomach-friendly 24-hour restaurants
No one says anyone should eat 24 hours a day.
But there’s nothing worse than the 3 a.m. stomach wail for pizza and coffee going unanswered.
To guarantee a hunger-pang-free night, these places are worth remembering.
Duck and Waffle (London)
Repressive licensing laws have left London way behind the likes of New York and Hong Kong when it comes to dining in the small hours.
But 40 floors up at the summit of the Heron Tower in London’s financial district lies the city’s biggest game changer of recent years.
Serving high-end comfort food including tuna with watermelon, oysters and scallops, the decor is a glamorously scuffed hotch-potch of smooth woods and garish wall murals.
But the knockout punch comes from the view -- looking down over the sparkling jewelry box of neon that makes up London’s nocturnal skyline is enough to revive even the sleepiest of late night gourmands.
Highlight: Duck egg with wild mushrooms, gruyere, truffles and soldiers.
Duck and Waffle, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopgate, London; +44 203 640 7310
It ain’t glamorous, it ain’t sexy and it ain’t pricey -- a worthy claim in this notoriously pricey city.
Next to Uguisudani train station, Shinanoji is a classic blue collar affair that’s achieved legendary status among Tokyo’s after-hours hedonists as the place to eat reviving comfort food in the small hours before taking the train back to the ‘burbs.
Large crowds head to the “horigodatu” communal eating area complete with sunken floor.
Others crowd in to one of the bijou tables for budget priced dishes of noodles, salads and miso-flavored beef. It’ll make the wait for the train, and the impending hangover, more bearable.
Highlight: Aji-furai -- deep fried mackerel with a shot of hot saki.
Shinanoji, 1-7-4 Negishi, Taito-ku, Tokyo; no website
Coppelia (New York)
In the maelstrom of Chelsea, Coppelia is exactly the kind of joint that iconic U.S. night owls such as Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski might frequent if they could get it together to put on a clean shirt.
Full of marble, chrome and cosy booths, the twist here is that alongside the expected 24-hour comfort foods of burgers, fries and waffles, there’s also an extensive list of Cuban specialities.
Julio Medina’s menu offers the likes of fish tacos and beef and cheese empanadas at reasonable prices for this part of chi-chi Manhattan.
For alcoholic libations check out the after hours cocktail menu which offers a good array of lesser known tequilas and “spiked” alcoholic milkshakes including vodka, avocado ice cream, absinthe and skimmed milk.
Highlight: “Ropa vieja” -- slow cooked shredded beef with tomato salsa, peppers, chili, rice and beans.
Coppelia, 207 W. 14th St. (between 7th and 8th Avenues), New York; +1 212 858 5001
Le Cochon (Paris)
For porcine thrills that last throughout the night this Paris institution in Les Halles delivers on every level.
The decor is classic French brassiere complete with taciturn waiters, red leather banquettes, acres of brass and dazzling chandeliers.
The speciality is pig and the menu offers delectable, if somewhat challenging quantities, of robust classics such as deep fried pigs trotters with French fries, calves kidney flambéed with cognac and knuckle of pork braised in spices and beer.
The restaurant has never closed its doors since 1947 and esteemed patrons have included Alfred Hitchcock, Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Chirac in his days as mayor of Paris.
Highlight: St. Anthony’s Temptation -- breaded pig tail, ear, snout and trotters with Béarnaise sauce.
Le Cochon, 6 rue Coquilliere, Paris; +33 01 40 13 77 00
Cafe Pushkin (Moscow)
A three-story museum to the decor, service and cuisine of Tsar-ist times, this legendary 24-hour cafe serves up gargantuan portions of every staple Russian classic you can name including blinchiki (Russian pancakes) with black caviar, borscht, sturgeon and pelmeni (dumplings).
This opulent institution only opened its doors in 1999. It was well known to Europeans before it even existed however, thanks to the French singer Gilbert Brecaud who had a huge hit in the 1960s with a song called “Nathalie” which contains the lines, “We are walking in Moscow, coming to the Red square with you quoting learned phrases about Lenin’s revolution, but I’m thinking: 'I wish to sit with you in Cafe Pushkin, drink a hot chocolate and talk...while the snow is falling outside.'”
Highlight: Duck mousse with wheat chips, garden radish and cream cheese.
Cafe Pushkin (website in Russian), Ul. Tverskoy Boulevard. 26-A; +7 495 739 00 33
Mel’s Drive In (Los Angeles)
The ultimate place to live out all your “Pulp Fiction” based nocturnal junk food cravings, Mel’s is packed throughout the night on weekends thanks to its handy location on Sunset Strip in the nexus of West Hollywood and also for its simple yet utterly indulgent menu.
Originating in San Francisco in the 1960s, Mel’s has featured in George Lucas’ iconic “American Graffiti” movie and still serves up “Mel-burgers,” chili fries and shakes -- though the soundtrack to a night out here from the various booming car stereos is more likely to be Kanye than Chuck Berry these days.
Highlight: Mel’s Supreme Burger with bacon, ham and cheese.
Mel's Drive-In, 8585 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, California; +1 310 854 7201 (see website for multiple locations)
El Borrego Viudo (Mexico City)
It seems the whole world knows how good Mexican food can taste at the end of the night, but for the ultimate comfort food at dawn few beat the tacos from this bijou taquaria in Colonia Tacubaya (southwest of la Condesa).
The speed at which the kitchen workers prepare the likes of tacos de cabeza (beef head) and suadero (thin-cut beef brisket) is astonishing and you can wash it all down with the traditional Mexican drink of tepache - fermented pineapple juice with honey, cloves and barley.
Highlight: Absolutely any taco -- just ask for whatever is most popular that evening.
El Borrego Viudo, Revolucion 241, Tacubaya, Mexico City; no website
Tsui Wah (Hong Kong)
There are certainly more fashionable places to eat in Hong Kong but for many locals there’s nothing that satisfies quite like an early hours visit to a cha chaan teng (tea house) restaurant -- the most famous of which is the Wellington Street branch of Tsui Wah.
This is unpretentious Hong Kong food served up in big portions around the clock to bleary-eyed students, young smooching couples, bedazzled tourists and determined revellers who have stumbled in straight from the party district of Lan Kawi Fong which lies just a minute or so away.
The epic menu includes local staples like Hainan chicken rice, macaroni noodles in soup with vegetables, curried beef brisket and fishbowl noodles.
There’s a hectic canteen style briskness to the atmosphere and the service but a visit here is an absolutely quintessential slice of after hours activity in one of Asia’s most exciting late night cities.
Highlight: Sizzling king prawns with fried noodles.
Tsui Wah, G/F-2/F, 15-19 Wellington St., Central, Hong Kong; +852 2525 6338 (see website for multiple locations)