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Vienna Beef Hot Dog at Jim's Original

24-hour restaurants in Chicago

When you're hungry right this second, head to one of these 24-hour restaurants or diners in Chicago, no matter the hour

By Amy Cavanaugh

When you're hungry and can't wait for breakfast or brunch, Chicago has plenty of 24-hour restaurants you can hit. From great Chinese restaurants to an Indian restaurant, Chicago delivers great snacks, whether it's 4pm or 4am.

RECOMMENDED: 24-hour Chicago

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24-hour Chicago restaurants

Elly’s Pancake House
Photo: Martha Williams

Elly’s Pancake House

Restaurants Diners Old Town

The room is big and wide-open, and yet thanks to the homey design (the mismatched chairs; the collection of plates on the wall), this diner feels more like a small, charming café. But don’t let that fool you: The menu has all the diner staples it should have, from plate-sized omelettes to hearty Monte Cristo sandwiches to the signature: oven-baked pancakes almost the size of the room.

Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas

Ghareeb Nawaz

Restaurants Indian West Ridge

The large crowd at the counter of this bare-bones Indo-Pak spot seems chaotic, but the diners are really just waiting for their postmeal chai. So push your way through, and order a bowl of delicious dal, loaded with bay leaves and chili peppers. Ask for the chili chicken and spoon the greasy, delicious, fiery red chunks onto the dense paratha bread. No matter what you order, you’ll get your money’s worth; most things here cost only about four bucks.

Kids eat free at Hollywood Grill.
Photograph: Martha Williams

Hollywood Grill

Restaurants Diners Wicker Park

Does this diner even have locks on its doors? It certainly doesn't need them: The colorful, retro spot feeds hungry (and, often, drunk) Wicker Parkers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Like many great diners, you can order breakfast, from french toast to chilaquiles, at any time. But the extensive menu has everything else you can imagine, too: salads, burgers, steaks, wraps, sandwiches, pie, cake and much more.

Photograph: Crystal Garcia

Huck Finn Restaurant

Restaurants Diners Mckinley Park

This mini-chain (there are three scattered throughout the South Side) focuses on two major food groups: ice cream and doughnuts. The savory food is perfectly solid—tuna melts could feed three; burgers are charred on the outside and juicy within—but the real deal is what comes next. For most people, that’s a doughnut topped with ice cream. But for our money, an apple fritter does the job better.


Jeri’s Grill

Restaurants Diners North Center

There is a bevy of 24-hour greasy-spoon diners in this city, but none of them offer anything as curious as Jeri’s “jailhouse special,” a plate of fried bologna, eggs, hash browns and toast. Kind of makes you wonder what Jeri was up to before the grill, doesn’t it? Get there before 2pm for the biscuits and gravy; the rest of the cheap eats are served all day and include fries and patty melts.

Jim's Original

Restaurants Hot dogs Little Italy, UIC

A little walk-up shack on the UIC Campus with no seating, Jim's Original doesn't look like much. But a solid rendition of a Vienna beef Chicago-style dog with fries sets you back just $2.85, and the grilled onions are a nice touch. Open 24 hours a day, Jim's Original is just as good for lunch as late night munchies.

Maxwell Street Depot
Photograph: Martha Williams

Maxwell Street Depot

Restaurants American Bridgeport

You can smell the unmistakable aroma of sautéing onions at this 24-hour diner from across the street, so you better believe each menu item is imbued with that sweet fragrance. That's definitely true of the bone-in pork chop sandwich, which is, well, exactly what it sounds like: a grilled pork chop sandwich with its bone very much still attached, placed on a bun, squirted with some mustard, and finished with a hefty pile of those onions. It's a messy, full-flavored lunch, and, as long as you eat around the bone, totally worth the hassle.

Photograph: Chris Lake

Susie’s Drive-in

Restaurants Fast food spots Irving Park

Though this tiny 24-hour shack with a three-seater counter serves only two flavors of soft serve—vanilla and chocolate—it’s the 54 flavors of milkshakes that draw out folks at all hours. By throwing candy, cookies and flavored syrups into the blender, they create flavors like “baboon” (chocolate and banana), Oreo and strawberry shortcake—thick shakes that pair well with an order of chili-cheese fries and a burger at 4am.

Photograph: Mark Wright

Three Happiness Restaurant

Restaurants Chinese Armour Square

The first thing to know before heading for this Chinatown gem is that it’s not the giant Three Happiness on the corner of Wentworth Avenue, and the difference is monumental. Ignore the far-from-spotless decor (or lack thereof) and skip the so-so appetizers in favor of black pepper beef with rice noodles (ordered “crispy”), crispy salt-and-pepper shrimp and Cantonese-style crispy-skin chicken.


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