Late Night Eating: East Village

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Late-night dining is what New York City is all about. What makes it "the city that never sleeps" is the fact that there's always someplace open to eat at any hour. On the weekends, in the wee hours of the morning, most night-owls are just looking for a pre-emptive strike against a hangover (I'd recommend two Gray's Papaya dogs and a Nalgene full of water). What you realize the next morning when you wake up from that gluttonous bender is that you have a food-hangover—not hungry until 2 p.m. and wondering how eating that many hot dogs seemed like such a great idea. Whether you're starving after seeing a late show or you've got the midnight munchies, we've got the eats for you.

This week we're checking out the classic nocturnal nosh spots in New York City's East Village, a neighborhood that is the epitome of cheap delicious late-night dining.

We've made a grease trail from Second Avenue to East Houston, so check out the digs after the jump.

This is what being in New York City means to me. Some of my best memories of living in the city involve sitting on the steps of Union Square at night in the summertime, eating falafel from Maoz while trying to avoid eye contact with the Guy With the Sign, all before getting on the L train back to Brooklyn. There were some nights when food was more than just an end-of-the-night destination, but actually a reliable fallback for lackluster evenings—transforming the busted night-outs into busting stomachs. These East Village spots have become classics in the neighborhood, but if you haven't tried them yet, make sure to plan for a post-pub crawl this weekend.

Pommes Frites

20080102pommes%20frites.jpgThe line will be out the door, but I can never say no to fries and mayo. Pomme Frites is the place to get Belgian fries served up in paper cones with your favorite mayo sauce. They're not the best Belgian fries you've ever had, but they're the perfect snack for the subway ride home or the wooden chairs out front if you're lucky enough to snag one. As the most indecisive menu-reader, the list of more than 20 different sauces can be pretty intimidating, but they'll give you free samples of whatever you please (my favorites are garlic mayo, sweet mango chutney, and smoked eggplant). It's a late-night haven, but beware, if you go too late, they'll have already run out of the chopped onions for the War Sauce combo (European mayo, peanut satay sauce, and onion). One desperate night, I went right after they closed and begged until they sold me a small poutine (fries swimming in chicken gravy and cheddar cheese)—bad call, the fries were sad and cold. Hey, even drunk folk need to stay punctual.
Address: 123 Second Avenue, New York NY 10003 (b/n 7th and 8th streets); open until 3:30 a.m. on weekends

Crif Dogs

20080102crif%20dog.jpgIf you're at Pommes Frites, leave room for hot dogs…wrapped in bacon…deep-fried. Just a block and a half away is Crif Dogs and after a night out in the East Village, it's the best place to stumble in and waddle out. The problem with the first time I went here was that I wasn't quite done with the night yet, but after I wolfed down the Chihuahua—deep-fried and bacon wrapped, topped with fresh avocado, and sour cream—that was the end of me. Okay, so I know that it sounds like way too much (or even gross) for some, but trust me on this one. Admittedly, when you first get that thing in your hands, it doesn't look too appetizing—the deep fryer does a number on the bit of exposed frank, nuking the skin to zombie-like proportions. But once you stop thinking of how much time you'll have to spend on the elliptical tomorrow and just put it your mouth, you'll become a believer. The bacon forms a thin crust around the outside of the frank and when paired with the fresh creamy avocado and sour cream, makes you mumble "oh my god" while simultaneously stuffing more into your mouth. With cheesy waffle fries and a couple cans of PBR, you're good to go…home and pass out. In the morning, if you're still hungry, then remember next time to pick up the Good Morning to go—a bacon-wrapped frank with melted cheese and a fried egg.
Address: 113 Saint Marks Place, New York NY 10009 (b/n First and A); open until 4 a.m. on the weekends


20080102doner.jpgThere's nothing like eating an amazing doner kebab and then walking into a room where someone tells you exactly what you just ate from only smelling it on you. This is the magic of doner kebab. Embrace it—especially if the night's romantic prospects are a bust. Shawarma and doner kebabs are a late night must-eat and Bereket is the place to go, night or day. I used to be a Mamoun's girl back when you could still get a falafel for $2 and I was convinced the tahini sauce must have been laced with some highly addictive substance because it was just that tasty. Nowadays, my loyalty lies with Bereket, where you can't go wrong with any of their kebab sandwiches, but don't forget to try the smoky, garlicky babaghannush with warm pita. If their hot sauce doesn't jolt your bleary-eyed self awake, the super-bright overhead lighting definitely will.
Address: 187 East Houston Street, New York NY 10002 (at Orchard Street); open 24 hours


20080102veselka.jpgCompared to the other cheap grub in the area, Veselka is a splurge, but it's certainly worth it if you're looking to satisfy your carb-stuffed-in-carb cravings. If you've been saving some bucks by drinking happy hour well drinks all night, then this is definitely the spot for you. They've got your classic diner nosh like pancakes, eggs, and bacon cheeseburgers (served on beautiful challah bread and up to snuff by the standards of our burger expert, Adam Kuban)—but you've got to try the Eastern European goods like pierogi, blintzes, and potato pancakes. It may not be as good as the dishes your Ukrainian grandma whips up, but when it's 4 a.m. and you're slathering sour cream onto your cheese-stuffed fried pierogie, you'll be glad that Veselka's there to welcome you into her bosom.
Address: 144 Second Avenue, New York NY 10003 (at 9th Street); open 24 hours