It’s 3am and your options are: a 24-hour McDonald’s, La Pasadita, Hollywood Grill…. No, wait, you promised yourself you would never go back to Hollywood Grill. Plus, who says you have to stop drinking?
This is the moment when you become grateful for the Barrelhouse Flat, which keeps its kitchen open until 4am on Saturdays (3am on Thursdays and Fridays). Most of the crowd isn’t here for food; the small menu has none of the wings and burgers popular at neighboring Lincoln Park bars. Folks are here for the drinks: a list of 70-plus classics and a few originals from the talented bartenders. But there’s a Charlie Trotter’s vet (Nick Hertel) in the kitchen, so are you really not going to eat? Start with the rich mushroom-blue-cheese beignets ($12). Share the surprisingly sophisticated take on poutine, made with pig face and cognac-scented currants ($13). And then go all out: the porchetta sandwich ($15) ➊, a huge, dripping-with-juices mess of herb-laced pork.
BHF’s late-late-night eats are in a category of their own. But for another reprieve from the burger-taco-grease trifecta, you can’t say no to 3am barbecue. On to Kingston Mines, the Lincoln Park blues club that hosts live music until 4am nightly (5am on Saturdays) and also houses Doc’s Rib Joint, open until the musicians wind down. Buffered by fatty, sauce-covered rib tips ($12) ➋ or a po’ boy sandwich loaded with fried catfish, crab cakes or blackened chicken ($8.50), you won’t mind that you paid a $12 cover. Unless you can dig up your college ID, which—when the bouncer is kind and ignores the expiration date—waives the fee.
What to drink with your pub grub.
➊ Remember the Maine cocktail ($10), a strong mix of whiskey and absinthe
➋ Bucket of five beer bottles ($15; specials daily), such as Coors Light