It started off as a simple idea. Go to a restaurant after 10 p.m. or so, order some food, consume it, and if it's good publish a Late Night Eats post about the place. The first three were actually just that simple. Then it got hard to find additional places. Really hard.
We have a serious problem here: There is a dearth of late night dining in Dallas.
Let's take Buzz Brews, Café Express and your favorite diner off the list. I'm not talking about places that were designed to stay open around the clock. What I'm looking for are restaurants that serve good food after regular dinner hours and preferably late into the evening.
After looking at a ton of restaurants' hours, I've determined that 10 p.m. is the standard closing time for most restaurants during the week. Weekend hours extend an hour or so, but closing before midnight still seems a little stuffy to me. It's like Dallas' restaurants have a bedtime.
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It's the customers that are imposing the curfew. If restaurants were full of diners at 10:30 on a Wednesday, the kitchens in these restaurants would undoubtedly stay open. The few that do stay open? Right now, they feel a little like a kid that's being allowed to stay up past bedtime. Maybe that's why the whole affair seems so sleepy.
I can't help but to think there's a better way. Picture this ...
Your favorite restaurant plays a game with their entry-level cooks. Every Friday and Saturday, the low men on the pole have to stay late and cook for a decidedly late night crowd. Imagine a cheese steak in the hands of Dean Fearing's staff, offered downtown at midnight. Or what about a twist on Buffalo chicken wings and gourmet banh mi sandwiches at one of Stephen Pyles'. Would it be a terrible thing if Tei-An stayed open till 2 in the morning and offered an after hours ramen bar?
Oak toyed with offering a late night menu. Their website claimed it was coming for months before management determined the neighborhood couldn't support it. Obviously location is important, but I can't help but think if one restaurant would strike out and do this, and also keep it interesting by changing up the menu on a regular basis, the industry crowd would come to eat. And customers who find themselves hungry after their weekend-evening activities might follow.