Originally published in Boston Magazine February 2014 issue
For a city that largely pumpkins out by 2 a.m., Boston has a lot more going for it than you might expect when it comes to quelling hunger pangs after the clock strikes 12. Fancypants sashimi bar Uni’s excellent $10 ramen (served after 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) may be the city’s biggest breakout success in the after-hours-grub department, but it’s hardly alone. Here, eight additional options (some new, some old standbys) for eating well, cheaply, and late—in some cases, until 4 a.m. –Joe Ricchio
Food until 1 a.m.
The Scene: Sharing most of the same patrons from bars in nearby Union Square, Area Four’s little Somerville sibling is ideal for collecting your thoughts while listening to a soundtrack of ’90s-era hip-hop.
The Order: When the kitchen closes at 11, all leftover thin-crust pizza is offered at half price until 1 a.m. (on a first-come, first-served basis, for dine-in only). Toppings-wise it’s a mixed bag, but it’s tough to go wrong with any—especially once your order is warmed up in the roaring wood oven.
445 Somerville Ave., Somerville, 617-764-4190, areafour.com.
Food until 1:30 a.m.
The Scene: A relaxed dining room that buzzes with Brookline residents seeking a snack after a night swigging Belgian brews across the street at the Publick House (which stops serving food at 11 p.m.). It’s generally quite busy, so be prepared to wait a bit for the food.
The Order: Truffle fries may now border on cliché, but this generous bowl ($5)—served with a small tub of roasted-garlic mayo—will remind you why they gained popularity in the first place.
1657 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-730-8040, abbeyrestaurant.net.
Food until 1:30 a.m.
The Scene: The dimly lit hangout, complete with Tiffany-style lampshades and plenty of old wooden booths, seems custom designed for hiding away—and many locals come here to do just that. And enjoy the aroma of tomato sauce and garlic that permeates the air, of course.
The Order: Basic cheese pizza ($9, with toppings ranging from $1 to $3) has a crunchy, buttery crust and sweet, tangy sauce and is substantial enough to warrant the time required to finish an entire bottle of bargain-priced chianti.
433 Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-266-5088, anchoviesboston.com.
Food until 1:30 a.m.
The Scene: This sprawling urban brasserie has established itself as the one place that label-hating hipsters, Fenway bros, trust-fund kids, service-industry professionals, and cougar packs can coexist in harmony.
The Order: Stick to classics like the superlative steak tartare with cornichons ($12) or the moules Provençal ($12), served in a fragrant broth and accompanied by warm, chewy bread. Once the late menu kicks in (11 p.m. weeknights, 12 a.m. weekends), four or five changing specials go up on the mirror above the bar, keeping matters interesting.
528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-9100, easternstandardboston.com.
Food until 12:30 a.m. (Sunday to Thursday); 1:30 a.m. (Friday and Saturday)
The Scene: The eclectic vibe of this Washington Square hot spot matches its varied following, most notably a contingent of off-shift servers, cooks, and bartenders perched at the bar on any given night.
The Order: Because even the shortest wintertime stumble from a nearby bar can chill you to the core, request the meaty, aromatic cumin-dusted lamb ribs ($13) finished with spicy vinegar and fish sauce.
1704 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-396-8752, fairstedkitchen.com.
Food until 1:15 a.m. (Monday to Saturday)
The Scene: A preferred haunt of the city’s service-industry folks after a long day spent serving the general public.
The Order: The late-night menu is made up of two categories: burgers and “concretes,” the latter essentially Dairy Queen Blizzards on steroids. Those who opt for burgers are given the option to “hook them up.” We do so by tacking on a fried egg and veggie patty to our beef cheeseburger. The result is the mother of all burgers ($12, when all is said and done). Stoners would do well to order the Crunchy Hipster concrete ($7), which whips white-fudge pretzels, bacon, M & Ms, and Butterfingers into vanilla ice cream.
Food until 3 a.m.
The Scene: Dining in what is basically a brightly lit basement dotted with Pepto-pink tablecloths, the crowd here can range from post-revelry college students to dancers who work at Centerfolds down the street. You’ll almost always spot a round table packed with chefs and cooks after a long shift.
The Order: Pair cold Tsingtaos with a bowl of clams simmered in a pungent black bean sauce ($12.95). The spicy dry-fried squid ($11.95) is the best in the city, with a crunchy, aggressively seasoned crust and tender seafood.
4 Tyler St., Boston, 617-482-3332, peachfarmboston.com.
Food until 4 a.m.
The Scene: A laid-back bar scene turns into an absolute circus upstairs on the entrance level between 2 and 4 a.m., as an entire inebriated neighborhood descends in search of super late-night sustenance.
The Order: While the burgers ($4.25–$5.85) are a no-brainer, Tasty’s hot dogs—lovingly called “shafts”—are equally great, particularly when covered in chili, jalapeño cheese sauce, and chopped onion ($5.25).
40 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-425-4444, tastyburger.com.