Few things in life are more sacred than solid Late Night food spots. So many factors come into play. Hours of operation. Proximity to home. In the crosshairs of some bars. Obviously you want quality but more importantly: consistency.1 And of course, the cuisine itself is critical to the Late Night experience. So much that it's subject to its own detailed set of power rankings that we can circle back on later. Right now I want to focus on the bigger picture of Late Night.
From pizza to your classic Vienna product distributor to the JP Graziano sandwich window. What's important is that you check a couple of primary considerations: Trust, Availability, Originalility and Turnaround.
1. Trust: You know you're in for a solid meal.
2. Availability: In the neighborhood with no games on the hours. No surprise holidays or early closures. The fluorescents and griddle burn deep into the morning hours.
3. Originality: No offense to the Wendy's of the world but I want family owned. Mom & Pop. If you can buy and sell stock in your Late Night place, it's not real Late Night.
4. Turnaround: I want to be in and out. Not a dedicated takeout window necessarily but a drive thru helps break up the foot traffic inside. You need
Nobody is saying anything about Reputation right now. That's more important when getting Late Night on the road. This blog is written from the perspective of home field advantage. You know your own turf.
I'm passionate about this because I finally made a trip to a Late Night burger spot that checks all those boxes. Been meaning to go there forever but just never did. Everyone has places and movies like that in life. Then you finally do it and you're like THATS WHY EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT IT. I did that with The Wire about 2 years ago. Rest in Peace Omar.
I was stupid for not getting into that show sooner and you carry that same burden with last night's burger. Once you get over the initial regret though, it really is an empowering feeling to add a solid place to your rotation. It's weird how much pride I'm willing to take in my own Late Night selection and I know that applies to so many. You could easily get college kids to commit felony-level assault on each other in pursuit of defending their own personal Late Night preferences. Those arguments can get to a different level when you're home for Thanksgiving.
IOWA CITY DOESNT KNOW SHIT ABOUT AUTHENTIC MEXICAN
I don't have some big crescendo to this blog. I just wanted to get some Late Night thoughts off my chest based purely off the inspiration delivered to me last night from Red Hot Ranch at 11:27pm. I woke up a new man. Couple beers at the 16 inch game last night under the lights. Made a handful of errors at shortstop but made up for it at the plate. We won by slaughter but need to get tighter for the playoffs. 10th season of the Bunt Munchers and we're still going strong. Still sweating and grinding and ripping cigs and sticking around for the 10pm. Those are textbook midweek circumstances for a 4th meal.
The passion behind late night food is there for a reason. For most, it starts in high school and won't slow down for decades. It will be one of the first things you hear about when you move to your first apartment. It's there for you when you want to leave the bars early on the weekend. It's there for you when you leave too late. When you have a work event and last ate Potbelly at 11:15am. And when you haven't bought groceries in weeks because you're normal that's okay. There's a different level of confidence when you have quality late night food in arms reach. For the uninitiated, it's something to strive for.
While we're here, just a couple more notes as we get into what promises to be a loaded Wednesday.
- Mondays off are approximately 40% better than Fridays off. Especially this time of year. Fridays off usually mean people try wayyyyyy too hard Monday-Tuesday. Meetings and calls and check-ins. "Long weekend coming up - just want to get ahead." That's tough energy. Opposite that, Mondays off means you're catching up to start the weekend. Nobody's trying to save the day right now. Maybe you'll talk on Thursday and then it's already Friday. The people who like a Friday off aren't as fun as they think.
- Don't get mad. We're only talking about Days Off Work. I respect your opinion.
- I'm filming some video content for a new golf sponsor today. I'd be more excited if I didn't play my worst two rounds of the year recently. Iron play is a mess. Balance is off. Swing thoughts are everywhere. Let's just stay positive and get back to basics. Tempo. Tempo. Tempo. That goes for all of us.
- Kevin Kisner missed the Ryder Cup team and some experts are saying It Was Never Even A Consideration. Tough when the guy is a match play machine and competitive animal. Swap in Scottie Scheffler and Harris English. One sounds like a teddy bear, the other like he's on the wrong team. This is my take on the golf news. See you guys at the practice round.
- WSD says he didn't smoke crack. I believe him, but he could be tricked into it. He wouldn't knowingly smoked crack. But if Rick Hahn or someone in that tier of respectability was vaguely like "Hey Dave, smoke this with me and we'll talk baseball" then maybe it happens. And I'm not saying Rick Hahn smokes crack either. Just that if he did smoke crack, he could persuade Dave into it.
- I would definitely smoke crack with Theo Epstein
1. Call me crazy but I would much rather have a 7.2 gyro every single time than roll the dice on a 6.2-8.2 spread depending on outside forces. Just not worth the risk to get stiff lamb meat or bad tomato. The regret is too powerful.