It’s hard to be an insomniac in Boston. Liquor laws prohibit bars and restaurants from serving after 2 am, and most close way before that. So where do the night owls go for fun and a good meal? Here are the 3 best (and sometimes only) choices.
The South Street Diner is the classic choice, open until at least 5am-and all night during weekends. They serve classic diner food- hamburgers, sandwiches, and breakfast all night. This place gets so packed during weekends that there is usually a line outside and a doorperson handing out menus and taking orders ahead of time. The food is great, and the atmosphere is fun. Most of the people who work there are punk rock types and provide excellent entertainment. There’s also a jukebox. My top choice for dinner? A bacon cheeseburger with fries and a milkshake. If you’re in the mood for a late night breakfast, the classic eggs, toast, and home fries is a good choice, along with their coffee-which is pretty damn good. One warning: be nice to the staff! If you’re rude to them, they will be rude back. If you leave a bad tip, they will call you out on it and probably make a scene. It’s all part of the entertainment.
My top choice for late night eating? Apollo Restaurant. Word is spreading about Apollo, located in the heart of Chinatown in Boston. And word is, late night sushi is the best thing Boston’s got going.
Apollo Restaurant is open until 4am every day except Monday. If you go in there late night on a Sunday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, you’ll probably find it relatively quiet. On a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, however, you’ll find it crowded with college kids just getting out of the clubs. No matter what night it is, the restaurant manages to maintain a somewhat intimate, cozy atmosphere. Apollo’s interior is rather basic- the lights seem a bit too bright at times, and there’s a constantly playing silent TV. But the tables are comfortable and spacious.
The menu is large, and offers diners a large assortment of traditional Japanese dishes (including a full sushi menu, katsu, teriyaki, and tempura) as well as traditional Korean barbeque dishes, and specials. I usually start off with a miso soup, which is basic and delicious, and a house salad- which usually turns out to be pretty mediocre. The table usually starts off with a bottle of sake. They only serve one kind of sake, and it runs about 10$ for a small bottle. It’s not the best, but it’s enjoyable and light. They also serve Japanese beer and wine. For appetizers, my top picks are yakitori (excellent chicken teriyaki on a skewer), shumai (tender steamed shrimp dumplings), and tatsuta-age (petite and perfect chicken nuggets).
The entrees are always a hard choice; some excellent ones include bi bim bap (an incredible stone dish), vegetable tempura (I always ask for more sweet potatoes in mine), and pork katsu, a fried and aromatic dish. Of course, when it comes to sushi, it’s all about choice. I would recommend the spicy tuna maki or the crispy maki, with sweet potato tempura inside. One of their usual specials is sweet & sour chicken, which is a delight even though they go a bit heavy on the sauce.
The service is well, not that great. There’s sort of a known joke about Apollo: the service is pretty bad, the bill will usually come to about $60 dollars more than you expected, and someone will probably throw up in the bathroom by the night’s end. And it will be worth it, because nothing quite compares to being able to enjoy some sushi at three in the morning in Boston with friends- especially if you order the cold tea.
If you’re in the mood for a more pretentious scene, check out News. Located right next to the South Street Diner, News is the late night restaurant for hipsters with cash to spare. There’s a doorman outside who checks ID’s (for some reason you have to be 18 to enter). The food is decent but overpriced, and the service is excellent. The atmosphere is a hip and trendy lounge, dimly lit with a lot of drunk people coming from clubs and bars. It’s comfortable but not friendly, more of a singles meeting place that a place to hang out with friends. My top pick for dinner is a margherita pizza, which is small but fulfilling. Skip the salads, which cost far more money than they are worth. The smoothies are excellent and they will make them to order. News is a fun place to check out when you have the extra money and you feel like trying something new. If you don’t, however, it’s no big loss.