Late-Night Fix

A man once said that nothing good happens after midnight. Well, he never had Five Bistro’s poutine. Let’s be honest: There is no litmus test for late-night food. Its delectability is entirely subjective – and usually commensurate with the amount of booze consumed. But while the sensible among us are catching some shut-eye, local chefs are keeping the lights (and ovens) on to turn out dishes that are as creative as they are crave-worthy for the witching-hour crowd. From indulgent dishes that will soak up the evening’s sins to light bites meant to satisfy the discerning nibbler, staying up late has never tasted so good.

500 N. 14th St., St. Louis, 314.621.7277,

The vibe: Bring your A-game and dancing shoes.
When: Fri. to Sun. – 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
What to drink: Cupples Station: Courvoisier, winter pear liqueur with a splash of sour
What to eat: Chicken and waffles
What to see: Bottles taken to VIP tables come with spectacular sparklers attached.

At Lola, the throwback tunes – Ooh, that is my jam! – will make you want to bust a move every few seconds, so finding time to grab a table can prove challenging. Luckily, everything is served on paper plates or in cardboard boats, lest the intoxicated drop their dish on the dance floor. The late-night menu is short and sweet. Creole crab cakes arrived looking somewhat deflated and casting grease-stain shadows on their cardboard container. But boy, were looks deceiving. Delicately fried and chock-full of tender chunks of crab and crawfish, these delightful balls were devoured promptly after a dip in a salty, spicy Cajun aioli. The chicken and waffles, drizzled with warm honey butter with a touch of maple, were by far the winner: salty, sweet, fried, carb-y protein heaven. Eat this and you’ll have enough stamina to do the running man back and forth across the dance floor all night long.

Smash Bar
1405 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314.707.7512,

The vibe: Buzzed clubgoers looking for calories to soak up the booze.
What to drink: Order up lots of high-octane booze and yell to be heard over the blaring beats.
When: Tues. to Sat. – until 1 a.m.
What to eat: Sliders and fries for the win
What to see: The portrait of Elvis painted on velvet behind the bar

Stumbling out of the club and in search of some greasy goods? Smash Bar’s simple late-night menu of fast food-inspired items (all served in brown paper bags) are intended to keep partiers on their feet – and away from the golden arches. Sliders are grilled amidst a flurry of onions – a secret step that imparts an addictive oniony flavor on the bite-sized burgers – and topped with cheese sauce and ketchup. Fries, sprinkled with a Creole seasoning, arrive in a portion that can only be described as enormous, surely big enough to split between three (only if you feel like sharing, of course). Other goodies include crab Rangoon, hot wings and sweet potato fries. But the real reason to stop by is the PBB – peanut butter and bananas sandwiched together, sautéed in garlic and topped with honey (We don’t know how, but the garlic really works here.) Sweet, salty and endlessly indulgent – this humble sandwich is the stuff of late-night revelers’ dreams.

Five Bistro
5100 Daggett Ave., St. Louis, 314.773.5553,

The vibe: Cozy and upscale, but not pretentious: a place where adults converse, not chatter
When: Thu. to Sat. – 10 p.m. to midnight
What to drink: A glass of wine from the impressive list or a well-crafted cocktail
What to eat: Poutine
What to see: The paint-on-canvas reproductions of works by Polish art deco painter Tamara de Lempicka

It’s 10:30 on a Saturday night; you’re looking spiffy and not ready to be tucked in. A little nosh sounds just right. Lucky for you, chef Anthony Devoti added an after-10 menu to his charming bistro where practically everything is locally sourced and made in-house (The guy even gets whole hogs delivered and takes it from there!). Smaller appetites will go for tidy snacks like house-made pickles and marinated olives, or a cheese plate served with local honey, candied nuts and fig jam. The indulgent will opt for poutine – a French-Canadian heart-stopper Devoti classes up with Ozark Forest mushroom gravy and a confit of whatever meat he has on hand, house-made ricotta and fries made from fancy Rissi Farm potatoes. Still hungry? Go for the extraordinary (and legendary): Five’s burger is made from Missouri grass-fed beef (ground in-house) and served with an array of fixings (each sold separately), including fries and a slew of house-made dippers.

3224 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.535.2686,

The vibe: Eclectic playhouse populated with casually dressed young professionals, local loft-dwellers and the college crowd
When: Daily until 1 a.m.
What to drink: A local microbrew – sipped, not slammed
What to eat: Meatloaf cupcakes
What to see: Every corner of the impressive space

Wandering Midtown Alley in search of a late-night bite? Tuck inside Plush, where copious spirits and smart, inexpensive eats await. At this four-story music venue, bar and eating house, artsy décor and a mellow vibe meld with a menu touting comforting classics with innovative twists. Executive chef David Zimmerman and his crew handcraft all items in-house, from the buns to the bacon – and all the sauces, pickles and sausages in between. Catering to the crossover of late hours into the early morning ones, breakfast is available all day, as are a slew of salads, sandwiches and desserts. For a hefty treat, grab a spicy crawfish roll – a true monster of a sandwich, served up with a zesty apple slaw. But don’t leave without an order of the meatloaf cupcakes. Three mini meat patties are topped with tri-colored potato frosting (a piping of mashed sweet, regular and purple Japanese sweet spuds) and swimming in a roasted garlic demi-sauce. Diner food donning from-scratch roots? Now that’s an insomniac’s saving grace.