10 Essential Late-Night Eats from All Over the World

by  Tommy Burson | Mar 7, 2014
Pizza / undefined undefined/iStock

On vacation, we tend to keep different schedules. That's why, at 1 a.m., with all the regular restaurants closed and the bar having stopped serving food, you may decide you're ready for dinner number two. Offering unique insight into local culture, late-night eats can enhance your travel experience as much as they can satisfy your craving. For a few bucks, you can fill up on local dishes like tacos, oyster omelets, and crepes, and get a candid glimpse into a city's after-hours culture. Every country has a specialty; here are the best bites served past midnight in cities all over the world.

1. New York City, United States: Pizza
Italian by birth but perfected in the States, city-dwellers, drunk college students, and midnight snackers all depend on pizza to satisfy their late-night munchies. Americans love it so much that 93 percent consume at least one slice per month.

What’s in it: Anything you want, really. Bread-based topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever else your stomach craves – even artichoke hearts and crème fraîche.

Best bite: For a late-night slice, Artichoke Basille’s Pizza serves a cream-based Artichoke slice that has the last-call crowd lining up around the block.

2. Mexico City, Mexico: Tacos
After a night of exploring the Chapultepec, one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere – or just the local margarita selection – fill your belly with flavorful tacos from the area's street carts. At a price of about $1 for six tacos, even Taco Bell can’t compete with this deal.

What’s in it: Grilled chicken, chorizo, or beef wrapped inside a crispy corn tortilla with pico, onion, guac, cheese, and a bit of cilantro.

Best bite: El Borrego Viudo, at the corner of Viaducto and Av. Revolución, dishes out mouth-watering tacos al pastor served with tepache, a sweet pineapple juice.

3. Montreal, Canada: Poutine
Eating poutine is like eating Thanksgiving dinner at the end of the night. It leaves you warm, stuffed, and with stains on your shirt. Perfected in Quebec, this snack is a favorite all over the Great White North.

What’s in it: French fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy.

Best bite: Semi-conscious customers flock to La Banquise, at Rue Rachel Est and Rue Boyer, for a hearty sample of one of La Banquise’s thirty different poutine varieties.

4. Paris, France: Crepes
Only the French can make a late-night meal this classy. Whether purchasing a few from a street cart or a patisserie, crepes can satisfy both a sweet tooth and a craving for something savory. The best part: Leftovers are simply the next day’s breakfast.

What’s in it: While it's hard to go wrong with any filling, we’d recommend rolling up a Nutella and banana crepe for a gooey, chocolate-y feast.

Best bite: After a night of gallivanting around Paris, get on the Metro and take it to the Montparnasse stop, on the Left Bank. From there, all late-night crepe desires shall be swiftly satisfied.

5. Berlin, Germany: Currywurst
Currywurst is more than a food. It’s an icon of German culture, so much so that photos of every Berlin mayoral candidate are displayed at currywurst stands.

What’s in it: Sliced sausage served atop french fries and topped with ketchup and curry powder.

Best bite: Curry 36 in Kreuzberg has easily the best quality sausage of Berlin’s countless Currywurst stands. Order it boiled and without skin for the best taste.

6. Istanbul, Turkey: Doner Kebab
Doner remains the true winner in nearly every country on this list, but nowhere is it served better than on a street corner in Istanbul. The mixture of meat, salad, and sauces – yogurt, garlic, spicy, or all of the above – refreshes a tired mind and fills up the stomach as well as any three-course meal.

What’s in it: Flatbread loaded with shaved hunks of lamb, lettuce, tomato, sumac, pickled cucumber, chili, and sauce.

Best bite: Positioned perfectly outside the rowdy streets of Beyoğlu’s fish market, Dürümzade feeds ravenous Turks juicy, homemade kebabs 24/7.

7. Delhi, India: Gol Gappa
What’s spicy but not too spicy? What’s delicious but not digestive destruction? Try India’s most popular street food, gol gappa, which lures tourists and locals with its distinct smell emanating from food carts all over Delhi.

What’s in it: Bite-size puri bread, fried crisp and filled with tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion, and chickpeas.

Best bite: Even as the oldest and most well-known market in Delhi, Bengali Market’s Nathu Sweets, Bengali Sweet House, and its innumerable other street vendors fry up spicy Gol Gappa at all hours.

8. Shanghai, China: Shaokao
Craving smoky barbecued meat and veggies at the end of a revelry-filled evening? One word for you: Shaokao.

What’s in it: Skewered meat and vegetables doused in five-spice powder (star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel).

Best bite: Situated in the Zhonghua Lu/Renmin Lu old city loop, Fangbang Lu street houses a collection the best, old-world Shaokao stands in Shanghai.

9. Bangkok, Thailand: Oyster Omelet
Late-night street food is a way of life in Thailand. Locals line up behind their favorite carts for a cheap meal that’s often better than what you’d find in a restaurant. How often do you see fresh oysters, crab legs, and shrimp prepared on the fly?

What’s in it: Crispy oysters, fried egg, and a spicy chili sauce.

Best bite: Nai Mong, found on Thanon Phlapplaachai, just off Charoenkrung Road. Order the Hoy Tod. Your stomach will thank you.

10. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Acarajé
Nicknamed “Jesus Balls,” the deep-fried Afro-Brazilian dish from Bahia is officially considered a “national immaterial cultural heritage” by the Brazilian Institute of National Historical and Artistic Patrimony. That’s right, a simple dish stands alongside the Christ the Redeemer statue as a Rio landmark.

What’s in it: Acarajé is the delicious result of filling a hush puppy with peppered shrimp and stewed caruru (a mix of okara, onion, and tomatoes).

Best bite: Nega Teresa is a no-nonse local favorite in the Santa Teresa neighborhood that serves Rio’s best Bahian cuisine.

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