Are you someone who is not ready to call it a night after Letterman and that extreme P90X workout? Are you spontaneous and find yourself restless for something fun at a time when the birds aren’t chirping? I never forget a good place that specializes in people like us. From coffee shops to random late-night entertainment, these classics of the Twin Cities stay open late to get you served. Here’s some of the best in no particular order.
Little Tijuana Restaurant
I remember the first time I went here and I’ll never forget it. Immediately when seated, you’ll notice the giant piece of white paper on the table and your server will give you a set of crayons. From there it’s up to you to get creative (note: great place for a first date and a game of Hangman). Now about the food: it’s amazing. I had the Tijuana Chimichanga (the #8) and it was saucy, beany and delicious. Service was exceptional and added to the fun of late-night entertainment. Open until 3 a.m.
Caffrey's Deli and Subs
This sub shop, located in the heart of Uptown, is open until 3 a.m. everyday. Hipsters love it and so do the out-of-towners. One stands out more than the other, but all are welcome. Regardless, make up your mind on what you want as its popularity gives them little time to walk you though each item. Oh, and they deliver. Big win.
Taco lovers, meet delivery. That’s right, this gem of the city has dine-in or call to have your meal delivered. If you consider Taco Taxi after out for drinks, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re with a group of friends, they will tag you in their Facebook status as “the coolest person ever, OMG.” I love the authentic flavor and the service is fantastic. Open until 2 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Hard Times Café
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Hey vegans and vegetarians: make note of this late-night staple. The falafel platter will be enough to fill you up, regardless of your diet. The price is great and so is the closing time of 4 a.m. You’ll find many students cramming for exams and is a fun place for people watching.
Elsie's Restaurant Bar and Bowling Center
If you’ve read any of my past best of recommendations, you’ll know I am a big fan of Northeast Minneapolis. I am also a fan of cheap, late-night bowling. Pair that with a tasty cocktail and you’ve got yourself a new favorite. You’ll love the modern cosmic bowling. Bowl until 1 a.m. or later, depending on the day.
I have driven past this place over a hundred times and I finally went here last week. Now I know what everyone has been talking about. I had an omelet for breakfast and it definitely exceeded my expectations. The flavor resembled a home-cooked meal and the service reminded me of what I get in a small town: authentic, charismatic and brutally honest. The old boxcar structure has been open 24 hours for over 70 years.
Eli’s Food and Cocktails
When I go here it’s typically for a late-night cocktail, however, I tried its mac and cheese recently and I’ll never be the same. Okay, so I am being a little dramatic, however, the recipe is amazing. Our server was fun and the ambiance is casual but anything goes. Open until 2 a.m.
I went here on a first-date a long time ago and when I learned it was a place to play board and video games, I remember thinking, “this date is not going to last very long.” I’ll tell you it was the most fun I had in a long time. It has Atari, Nintendo, Sega and all the new game stations. The board games are endless along with the great menu items. When you walk in, you’ll think you’re on-set for “That 70’s Show” with the vintage furniture. Open until 1 a.m.
I have friends in the service industry and they swear by this place. The late-night hospitality is classy and comfortable and the food is fantastic. If you are up late and in need of something chill, go here. Keep in mind its prices are a bit higher than my other recommendations, however, I am always in favor of a personal reward. Open until 2 a.m., every night.
The Uptowner Café
By now, it may not surprise that a good hole-in-the-wall restaurant tends to be my favorite. The Uptowner Café is a gem of St. Paul where I continue to leave happy that I stayed up late. The diner-style restaurant is open into the wee hours of the morning. (Thursday through Saturday until 3 a.m. or later.) I don’t care what time of day it is, get the hash browns.
If late-night pizza is your calling, go here. Big pieces by the slice are what many in the area of the University of Minnesota talk about the day after a night out. This staple is a classic restaurant of the area and is open most nights until 2:30 a.m. or later. Need delivery? They have you covered.
-Justin Reis is a WCCO intern studying broadcast journalism at the University of Minnesota. His passion for finding the “best” in the Twin Cities is inspired by his role as a group fitness instructor and interests ranging from “anything artistic” to “anything social.” Please leave a comment on what you think of his recommendations.