A grilled flatiron steak with a mound of frites and a spinach salad would seem right at home on any bistro menu in the city. But it happens to be well after midnight at Bijan's Bistro in River North, where the late-night menu kicks-in at 1 a.m., and runs until four in the morning.
"There was a niche for people finding customers who want to go out late for dinner. People who work in the restaurant business, Europeans here at conventions. Europe traditionally eats much later than here," said Ralf Boettger, Manager at Bijan's Bistro.
The dishes on the late night menu are a bit lighter, so in addition to salads there's also a well-made shrimp BLT. One of the challenges for Bijan's is letting regulars know that they're actually open all day, not just after dark.
"Unfortunately, we are so much known for late nights that some people forget we also serve dinner at eight o'clock, and I like to remind people of that," Boettger said.
In the South Loop, the legendary White Palace Grill doesn't need locks on the doors, since they're open 24/7.
"We get a late-night crowd from the partygoers, but we have some folks that come in late-night; they just have to have some breakfast," said Maurice Roberts, a Manager at the White Palace Grill.
Which naturally includes their massive skillets, loaded with your choice of greasy, gut-filling proteins but also favorites like fried chicken and waffles.
"We serve a lot of the ultimate meat skillets and the chicken and waffle breakfasts....we serve a lot of that late nights," Roberts said.
In Wicker Park, The Bedford has become one of the neighborhood's swankiest spots, thanks to the fact it's located in the basement of an old bank at the intersection of Division and Ashland. The restored safe offers a lounge-y area to sip cocktails, but the food is definitely more ambitious.
"You can go anywhere and get wings and whatnot, but we wanted to attract some industry folks and serve some high-quality food kind of late in the evening," said Mark Steuer, the Chef at The Bedford.
The kitchen is open until 2 a.m. on the weekends. You could start with deviled eggs, or maybe a charcuterie plate of pate with grilled bread. Corn fritters bathe in a tomato-ey romesco sauce, while steamed mussels offer a late-night snack that's a bit heartier - and tastier - than tacos or sliders.
"We all want to go get a beer but sometimes you haven't eaten all day. A nice bowl of mussels or a bunch of bread...something to soak up the beer," Steuer said.
663 North State St.
Mon-Fri Late night menu is from 1AM to 4AM
White Palace Grill
1159 S. Canal St.
312- 939- 7167
1612 West Division St.
Kitchen open until 1AM weekdays and 2AM Weekends