Boston is not known for being a sleepless city. The T is shut down by 1 a.m., and most restaurants stop serving food even earlier than that. For the Emerson student with a late night craving, options might seem limited to wide, greasy slices of New York Pizza or a canister of Pringles from the convenience store.
Fortunately, these great neighborhood haunts are an easy walk from campus, and have kitchens serving surprisingly healthy bites to the night owls flocking from across Boston.
Best Breakfast for Dinner: Take a 10- minute walk toward the waterfront for classic 50’s dishes at the South Street Diner. Whether its breakfast, burgers, or a little something sweet, Boston’s biggest 24-hour eatery is the perfect spot. Fill up with a healthy bite by ordering an egg white omelet, or the grilled portabella entrée with a side of salad and vegetables. If you’re in the mood for dessert, indulge in a traditional mid-century root beer float. South Street Diner always gives you the option to choose fries or salad as a side, and if you’re eating before the sun comes up, your stomach will feel much better in the daylight without the grease-ridden takeout.
178 Kneeland St., 617-350-0028; $
Best in Chinatown: Just a few blocks from campus, Chau Chow City is known for its massive menu and late-night karaoke. Portions are large at this Chinatown institution, — and reasonably priced. Keep things light by avoiding noodle-based dishes, like lo mein, and watching the sauces you choose. For example, Szechuan is very oily. Pick a broth-based sauce instead. A vegetable dish, such as Buddha’s Delight, is always a safe choice. But if you’re craving meat, pair it with broccoli or carrots, two of the most vitamin-rich vegetables. Split your meal with a friend or take home half so you have something to enjoy the following night.
83 Essex Street, 617-338-8158; $$
Best for Vegetarians: Forget limited late night selections. At the Franklin Café, you can order from an extensive dinner menu until the kitchen closes at 1:30 in the morning. Vast vegetarian and gluten-free options make this restaurant the healthiest after-hours spot in Boston. You’ll need more than a fistful of extra laundry quarters to pick up the tab, but with dishes such as skillet smoked mussels and roasted eggplant with tomato, chili, and mozzarella, your body will feel well-fed and refreshed when you wake up later in the afternoon.
278 Shawmut Ave., 617-350-0010; $$
Best for Baked Goods: Put in an extra five minutes and cross into the North End, where more and more places are catering to hungry college students. Bova’s, a family-owned and operated signature spot, has made a reputation with their face-sized rice krispy treats and enormous cream puffs. Their sub sandwiches, prepared on freshly-baked bread, are worth the haul.
134 Salem St., 617-523-5601; $
Best for Sharing: For a classier meal, Bricco, an upscale Italian restaurant on Hanover, offers a little-known late night menu. A whole pizza, either prosciutto or mozzarella, can be the perfect way to satisfy a big group. You can split a pizza for $16, anytime from 11:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m, and that’s an unquestionable deal.
241 Hanover St., 617-248-6800; $$$
Best Guilty Pleasure: If you have a distinct craving only greasy food can fill, find Saus, a casual spot started by a few locals who recently graduated from Northeastern and Boston University. I could recommend the mixed green salad or apple cabbage slaw, but at Saus, it’s all about the fries. They offer hand-cut Belgian fries with your choice of more than 15 homemade sauces. Signature Spicy Green Monster sauce, a combination of jalapeños and habanero peppers with French cilantro and garlic, is the perfect way to dip your late night bite.
33 Union St., 617-248-8835; $
$, $$, $$$ — restaurant price