Photos and Words by Tori Beringer
Happy Halloween from TasteBUds! If you're looking for a place to get some spooky, late-night grub this evening, head to one of these spots with kitchens open until at least 1:00 am for a treat– and maybe even a trick!
The November slump is here. That mid-semester point when, somehow, your routine Domino’s pizza order just isn’t going to cut it, you’ve tired yourself out on Insomnia cookies, and you just can’t bare to spare your preciously-rationed dining dollars on Warren Late Night’s french fries.
Though difficult to find, Boston surprisingly offers weekend late-night food options beyond Tasty Burger and T. Anthony’s. A select few restaurants stay open late enough to showcase the city’s culinary caliber to the weary and hungry--the college student on a Saturday night. Here are a few of Boston’s best meals after midnight; ideal for truly treating yourself after a night out, impressing your date with swanky ambiance, or throwing some spontaneity into your gang’s weekend routine:
Lone Star Taco Bar
479 Cambridge St., Allston
Kitchen open until 1:30 AM
A modern interpretation of an old Western saloon, complete with a mounted bison head and dim lighting, Lone Star Taco Bar has an edgy simplicity that evades the tackiness of a thematic restaurant. Perhaps this is accomplished through the blaring 90s punk soundtrack or the close-quartered industrial metal tables. In a complementary manner, the food avoids Southwestern clichés, providing a gourmet, Boston interpretation of Mexican-American cuisine. The bar’s top offering, grilled street corn, encompasses every flavor of the Southwest. It is infused with the smoky, sweet, comfort of corn on the cob with sharply salty cotija and a creamy chili lime aioli. Continuing with the tradition of street food, Lone Star serves up an array of upscale soft tacos, like the Beef Barbacoa. With a juicy, boldly-spiced brisket, its flavors are counterbalanced by the fresh undertones of avocado crema and tangy pickled red onions. Even the fluffy corn tortillas taste as though they’ve been taken straight from an East LA taco truck. And, like a taco truck, this messy, creatively adapted Mexican-American cuisine will leave you indulgently licking your fingers; self-consciously looking around only to find your neighbors doing the same.
The Parish Café
361 Boylston St., Back Bay
Kitchen open until 1:00 AM
The Parish Café redefines preconceived notions of “home-style” food. With its blackboard menus, black and white photography décor, and quiet jazz music, Parish subtly gives off an idyllic old-fashioned sandwich shop vibe. However, the flavors of the menu are far from calm. The café has perfected the onion ring, not only in making it light and fresh, but also pairing it with a sensory-overloading chipotle aioli. The classic Baked Mac and Cheese gets its edge from a topping of warm melted Gruyere, a powerful note in the buttery and creamy blend of cheeses. For an even heartier meal, there’s the Steak and Blue Sandwich. This sandwich has tender steak, marinated red onions, and salty blue cheese all within crispy toasted bread. While the menu is far from simple, the warm atmosphere and familiar offerings of Parish Café make for relaxed late-night dining reminiscent of hometown eateries.
Alden & Harlow
40 Brattle St., Harvard Square
Kitchen open until 2:00 AM, Thu-Sat
Tucked in a basement at the edge of Harvard Square, this trendy tapas bar is a candlelit room filled with the musky firewood smoke from slow-roasting meat. Alden & Harlow is something out of a hip furniture catalogue’s staging of a family dining room. Long communal tables and small-dish sharable menu items emphasize the restaurant’s nature as a welcoming gathering space. Chef Michael Scelfo’s entirely local and seasonal menu provides the freshest tastes of fall, like the Raw Sugar Pumpkin Salad. Composed of shredded pumpkin, the salad gives off a faint squash flavor, begging for flavor enhancements from sweet dates and Xertoli almonds, salty Sardo cheese, and a spicy jalapeno brown butter dressing. Keeping with the theme of autumn veggies, the smoky Charred Broccoli appetizer is complemented by a lightly textured butternut squash hummus, topped with a cashew crumble, for a nutty and woody warmth that reflects the restaurant ambiance itself. Another notable dish is the Grilled Baby Potatoes; a typical side-dish recreated with chopped wild mushrooms, crunchy bits of barley, and a Sardo crema dressing. The freshness, warmth, and comfort of fall are palpable in both the food and setting, making the late night tapas bar a nearly artistic expression of food experience.