Top 10 late-night restaurants in the Twin Cities

Categories: Top 10

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Late-night dining beyond the drive-through
​We've all been there, sitting in a bucket seat of shame outside of Taco Hell. Tomorrow will bring suffering and regret.  Unfortunately, late at night there aren't many options for hot food beyond the SA hot dog roller thing. It doesn't have to be that way. We tracked down our favorite late-night eats from gourmet to gutter punk. Whatever your craving, we've got you covered.

10. Eli's East

Just at the edge of a bustling neighborhood, slouching into a burgundy, squeaky booth is the perfect way to unwind after a long night out with some above board bar fare. Sit by the window and watch as the frequency of taillights fades as the city settles down. A dish of their classic penne and cheese is a perfect before bed snack. Or break into the meal with some of their extra crispy wings with a glass of great booze.  Cocktails here are no rail affair, classic like martinis and Manhattans are perfectly crafted from the good stuff. It's a nice way to ease into the night. Food is served until 1am nightly.

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​9. Chino Latino

Oh, the joys of springtime in Uptown! Melting snow reveals a yard full of dog crap and trash. Bars unleash their patrons on sidewalks and patios, and drunken revelers start shouting matches right outside your door. It's pointless to try to get any shut-eye before two in the morning, so you might as well get out of bed and join 'em at Chino Latino. While Uptown's bar-of-the-decade may be known for its offensive billboards, tropical drinks, and trendy crowds, its dirty little secret is that the food is really good. And Sunday through Thursday, between 10:30 p.m. and midnight, items on the happy-hour menu are so cheap you'd think you were in Latin America. (Seriously, most of the food costs less than a beer.) Start your meal with a couple of the $1 tacos, a changing selection that's as good as any at our best local taquerias. Then move on to a plate of $4 enchiladas, loaded with shredded chicken, black beans, guajillo chile salsa, and pepper jack cheese. Saving the best for last, finish out with the Pan de Muerto, or French Toast of the Dead, which is laden with sliced bananas and soaked in Meyer's rum caramel syrup. Twenty bucks can easily feed three or four people. (2916 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.824.7878)

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8. Hard Times Café
There's a man carefully sorting out some sort of herbage on his cockeyed table. It's not the herb expected, but it's some sort of crop that apparently requires mindful separating. There's another sneaky customer finishing up a can of Guinness from his jacket pocket mid chess move. Most of the other guests inside the crusty Hard Times Café are laughing and sifting through piles of veggie-friendly foods and generally recovering from one thing or another. It's a collectively owned café that draws the nocturnal crowd, a refuge for musicians, artists, and other dwellers of the night. Biscuits and gravy make a perfect bridge from the jangling chorus of your night to the sweet refrain of morning. (1821 Riverside Ave., Minneapolis; 612.341.9261)

7. Caffrey's Sub's
After the bars close and the multitude of twinkling lights that illuminate Lyn/Lake dim, the lights and grills are still on inside Caffrey's Subs. The meat and veggies are splayed on the hot griddle, diced and tossed into a flavorful heap before being tucked, with a bit of cheese, inside a fat hoagie bun. The bread is griddled crisp on the exterior but easily surrenders to the tooth. Each bite works on the absorption of any poisons that may have earlier been introduced to the body (possibly courtesy of the nearby Country Bar). (3008 Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis; 612.822.5551)

​6. The Dakota

Having already booked a table at the Dakota for business lunches, after-work drinks, and dinner, we're always looking for yet one more excuse to sample its haute-American cooking. And here it is: late-night happy hour. It only runs on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 11 p.m., but we're all getting a little bit old for staying out past midnight on a Tuesday, aren't we? The food-and-drink specials are worth waiting for the weekend: half-price cocktails made with our homegrown fave, Phillips Prairie Organic Vodka (try the Prairie Flower, with elder-flower liqueur and cranberry juice) and classic American snacks such as French fries, deviled eggs, chicken wings, peel-and-eat shrimp, and tiny walleye po' boys, which are all prepared with exacting, fine-dining panache. Get in before midnight and you can have a nice little feast for less than you'd get for that old Miles Davis album. Even better, you can catch the 11:30 set, which often features local up-and-coming jazz groups, for a $5 cover. (1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010)

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