Whether you’re a night owl or a night shift worker, it can be difficult finding a place to assuage your hunger in the wee small hours. Not that long ago, you would have been limited to an all-night truck stop or diner — if you could even find one, that is. Nowadays, more and more fast food and sit down chain restaurants are open 24 hours.
Not that long ago, you would have been limited to an all-night truck stop or diner — if you could even find one, that is. Nowadays, more and more fast food and sit down chain restaurants are open 24 hours.
Take a look at our list of places to get your nosh on, any time of the night!
Fast Food and Chain Restaurants That Are Open 24 Hours
Over the decades, the Golden Arches has developed a reputation for serving consistent sandwiches, french fries, and even salads. Not all of their locations are open 24 hours, while some only offer the option of drive-through meals, but McD’s is generally a reliable beacon of brightness in an otherwise dark night.
Not all of their locations are open 24 hours, while some only offer the option of drive-through meals, but McD’s is generally a reliable beacon of brightness in an otherwise dark night.
If you need a caffeine-and-sugar fix during the hours when most other folks are sleeping, head for Dunkin’. Many locations are open 24 hours, and they serve more than just doughnuts these days. Try one of their Texas-toast breakfast sandwiches or a bagel for a non-sweet carb fix that will keep you going until morning.
Remember when Taco Bell’s motto was “Make a Run for the Border”? You won’t have to cross any borders when you want a Doritos Locos taco, a chalupa, or a bean burrito. Some locations operate ’round the clock, while others are open until 3 a.m., which will satisfy a lot of late-night salsa-related cravings.
Jack in the Box
While some fast food chains stay open 24 hours so people can order their usual combo meals whenever they get the craving, Jack in the Box actually caters to the late night crowd. They serve up special menu items to appeal to people with the midnight munchies. What do you say to a burger with curly fries and spicy, creamy sriracha sauce, or one that has an entire grilled cheese sandwich on top of the usual ground beef patty? At some locations, you’ll even hear dance music, so you can keep the party going while you carb-load to soak up all the booze in your stomach.
What do you say to a burger with curly fries and spicy, creamy sriracha sauce, or one that has an entire grilled cheese sandwich on top of the usual ground beef patty? At some locations, you’ll even hear dance music, so you can keep the party going while you carb-load to soak up all the booze in your stomach.
Known as Hardee’s on the East Coast and Carl’s Jr. elsewhere, this is the place to go when it’s late at night and you have a sudden hankering for a hamburger with pickles, honey BBQ sauce, crisp fried onions, and — wait for it — boneless baby back ribs. If that won’t keep you going until morning, well, we don’t know what will.
Looking for breakfast tacos well before sunrise? Hit up one of the many Taco Cabana locations, most of which are clustered in the Southwest, and many of which stay open around the clock. Brisket Cabana plates, fajitas, and nachos are also available, and Taco Cabana even makes its own tortillas daily, so you won’t be stuck with last week’s leftovers.
Brisket Cabana plates, fajitas, and nachos are also available, and Taco Cabana even makes its own tortillas daily, so you won’t be stuck with last week’s leftovers.
Steak ‘n Shake
Have you ever been to a Steak ‘n Shake? This chain, known for its (steak) burgers and (milk) shakes — hence the name — are a hybrid of a sit-down restaurant and a fast-food joint. They have learned, however, that staying open 24 hours is a lucrative business. Offerings vary depending on the location, but you can count on Steak
Offerings vary depending on the location, but you can count on Steak ‘n Shake for a hamburger, chicken sandwich, footlong hot dog, and of course a cold, creamy, hand-dipped milkshake whenever you need an all-American food fix.
When you get that late-night jones for a cherry limeade, Sonic is the only game in town. This fast-food joint, which has its roots in a regional chain of root beer stands dating back to the 1950s, is among the relatively few restaurants where you can still receive classic carhop service. Order up some tater tots, a corn dog or a double bacon cheeseburger and watch while a roller skating waiter delivers it right to your car door.
Two words: coffee milkshake. That’s worth stopping for when the clock is close to striking two a.m. and you’re still on the road, no? Of course, Whataburger, which has served up “bigger, better” two-hand burgers since 1950, has plenty of solid food offerings to go with your java shake.
Go on — admit it. Every once in a while, you just gotta hit up Denny’s for the “Moons Over My Hammy” sandwich.
What could be a better midnight snack than a sandwich of scrambled eggs, ham, and two kinds of cheese on grilled sourdough? Fun fact: this classic late-night grub originally consisted of over-easy eggs, not scrambled — hence the “moons” moniker.
Too embarrassed to order the Moons Over My Hammy? Head on over to a 24 hour Perkins for many of the same diner-style comfort food offerings, without the wacky names. Perkins serves up breakfast favorites as well as sandwiches, entree options like meatloaf, turkey dinner, and fried shrimp, and even bakery items like muffins.
Is there a better place to grab a bite during the witching hours than Waffle House? We think not. While it’s an urban myth that this quintessentially Southern chain’s locations don’t even have locks on the doors; they are open 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
In fact, you can gauge the severity of a natural disaster, like a hurricane, using something called the Waffle House Index. When the weather is fair, stop by one of these neon-lit havens for their signature hash browns (smothered? scattered? covered?) or a steak-and-eggs breakfast.
Waffles not your thing? Perhaps you fall on the pancake side of the divide? No worries — many IHOP locations are open 24 hours, too. Choose your syrup flavor from the convenient table caddy, or opt for one of their candy-sweet berry toppings. The pancake chain has a surprising number of savory dishes on offer, as well, so you can grab a salad or omelet any time.
Bring Your Appetite and Hit the Road!
Apologies if we’ve tempted your taste buds with this list of great late-night spots to score a bacon cheeseburger, crispy chicken sandwich, cheesy omelette — or just a caffeine fix and a chocolate glazed.
But hey, since these places are open 24 hours, there’s no reason you can’t head out and enjoy a scrumptious fast food meal right now — or anytime!
What’s your favorite late night spot? Comment below. We’d love to hear from you.