I was a late convert to the joys of 24-hour dining, arriving to the District armed with a blue suit and a youthful commitment to fluorescent lit federal bureaucracy. However, it was through DC’s corrupting influences that I washed up on the doorstep of Honeypig one night at about 3 a.m. The waitresses were cranky, the ventilation eye-watering — and the piles of barbecue meat coupled with the spread of Korean banchan (little side dishes) were epically comforting. After a night of raucous music and adult beverages, it was a chance for friends to refuel together and have some final bonding time to close out an unexpected DC weekend.
I still hang out under fluorescent lights, but now I know which location of Bob & Edith’s Diner is best (Columbia Pike, obviously), what Korean barbecue destination I prefer to Honeypig (not telling – it’s already too crowded), and where to get fish tacos in the middle of the night (Surfside, 1800 N St. NW, DC).
The challenge is matching late-night dining with DC’s entertainment venues, some of which come without obvious food pairings. For instance, Alexandria’s Birchmere is near a car wash and a vacant lot that looks ripe for “Law & Order: SVU.” But the bright Kabob Palace is less than two miles away. The tables are wonky and the place can get packed, but the kabobs and stews are massively satisfying. Want pancakes and table-service? Bob & Edith’s is a block further.
2315 S. Eads St. Arlington, VA; www.kabobpalaceusa.com
Bob & Edith’s Diner
539 23rd St. S, Arlington, VA; www.bobandedithsdiner.com
The Strathmore is another venue without much in sight beyond government health facilities and high-rises – if you want chow, go to Bethesda. Silver is the “brasserie” version of the popular local diner chain (i.e., gluten-free caramel French toast!). We also love the nightly 10 p.m. – close five-dollar happy hour (Moscow Mules and pancakes!). And there’s always Tastee Diner for the genuine grumpy-waitress, greasy-spoon experience.
Open: Sun.-Thurs. until midnight, Friday-Saturday until 2 a.m.
7150 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD; www.eatsilver.com
7731 Woodmont Ave. Bethesda, MD; www.tasteediner.com
Honestly, if you’re at Echo Stage in NE DC, you probably don’t want to stick around the neighborhood after your favorite DJ wraps up. But, if you do – Ivy City Smokehouse is near-ish, and has “Indian candy” (smoked salmon with honey) and fish and chips. Alternatively, if you leave the show early, Panda Gourmet has the best Szechuan in DC – don’t be put off by the seedy Days Inn where it’s located.
Ivy City Smokehouse
Open: Tues.-Thurs. until midnight, Friday-Saturday until 1 a.m.
1356 Okie St. NE, DC; www.FB.com/IvyCitySmokehouse
Open: until 11 p.m. daily
2700 New York Ave., NE, DC; 202-534-1620; www.pandagourmet/dc
Silver Spring gets quiet at night, but if you’ve been on your feet for hours at The Fillmore take a seat for the pupusas at Samantha’s (or anything off their delicious pan-Latin menu), or pancakes at the nearby Tastee Diner (with free wifi!).
Open: Sun.-Thurs. until 10:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until 11:30 p.m.
631 University Blvd. E, Silver Spring, MD; www.samanthasrestaurante.com
8601 Cameron St. Silver Spring, MD; www.tasteediner.com
Not many other DC venues are better located for late-night eats. Step outside the sweaty confines of the Rock & Roll Hotel, and you’re steps from Dangerously Delicious Pies; we’re partial to the SMOG (steak, mushroom, onion, Gruyere).
Dangerously Delicious Pies
Open: Sun.-Thurs. until midnight, Fri.-Sat. until 3:30 a.m.
1339 H St. NE, DC; www.dangerouspiesdc.com
“My favorite sandwich shop is up the street,” a friend of a friend told me once. “I’m not telling you anything else because you’ll write about it.” I figured it out anyway. When you exit the 9:30 Club or the Howard Theatre, go to the Fast Gourmet in the gas station on 14th and order the Cubano with a side of hot sauce.
Open: Sunday until 10 p.m., Mon.-Wed. until 11 p.m., Thurs. until 2 a.m., Fri.-Sat. until 5 a.m.
1400 W St. NW, DC; www.fastgourmetdc.com
Georgetown doesn’t lack in late-night noshes, thanks in large part to the student population. Spent the evening at Gypsy Sally’s? Go hang with the kids at Muncheez and eat Nutella crepes.
Open: Sun.-Wed. until 2:30 a.m., Thurs. until 3:30 a.m., Fri.-Sat. until 4:30 a.m.
1071 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.muncheezdc.com
If you didn’t eat during the show at IOTA Club & Café, the always-outstanding Amsterdam Falafelshop beckons. Or, hit up Silver Diner if you want table service and late-night breakfast.
Open: Sun.-Mon. until midnight, Tues.-Wed. until 2:30 a.m., Thurs.- Sat. until 3 a.m.
3024 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.falafelshop.com
Open: Sun.-Thurs. until 2 a.m., Fri.-Sat. until 4 a.m.
3200 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.silverdiner.com