It’s 10:30 pm and you’re hungry. Not scrambled-eggs hungry, as in driving to the closest 24-hour diner, or need-to-soak-up-the-alcohol hungry, as in gobbling down a couple slices of pizza, but gastro-hungry, as in a hankering for steak frites or a platter of little-neck clams. Traditionally, Westchester hasn’t been a mecca for late-night dining, at least not beyond the (admittedly awesome) chilidog variety (see box on Hubba, page 127). But, over the years, restaurateurs have learned that there’s a market for good food past 10 pm. We stayed up late to find you evergreen eateries where solid midnight munchies are always on the menu.
Burgers and fries are standard orders at AJ’s Burgers (542 North Ave, New Rochelle 914-235-3009)—the sock-hop-style diner near Iona College—but the real jewels are the grilled chicken sandwiches served on homemade bread (often with hot peppers and melted provolone). Owner Alan J. Cohen (aka “AJ”) grew up in the area and is a champion of good, old-fashioned American food, which includes hot fudge sundaes and killer breakfast specials. Go for the bacon-and-egg slider with chipotle cream cheese. At $1.69, you can’t go wrong. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday, 24/7.
It’s tropical and cheery at Azul Latin Fusion (706 Locust St, Mount Vernon 914-668-1100), with an ambitious menu
presided over by Brian MacMenamin that features a mixture of different Central and South American cuisines, including Mexican, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Brazilian. The fact that you can order until 11 pm during the week and 2 am on weekends is an insomniac’s dream (the restaurant is open until midnight Monday to Wednesday, 1 am Thursday, and 4 am Friday and Saturday).
Café Mirage (531 N Main St, Port Chester; 914-937-3497) screams “late night” with its eclectic temperament (it’s housed in a former garage), and funky décor (we love the multi-colored string of lights on the outdoor patio and the cheery orange décor inside). Mostly, though, we love that you can find a solid mix of Caribbean, Cajun, French, and Asian-inspired fare (think everything from fish tacos to Jamaican jerk chicken) until the wee hours of the morning. Open Monday to Thursday until 11 pm; Friday and Saturdays until midnight.
You can always count on City Limits (200 Central Ave, White Plains 914-686-9000) for its extensive menu, from your usual diner suspects like burgers and eggs, to your more epicurean options like udon noodles or a grilled spiced bass sandwich. Open Sunday through Thursday 8 am until 11 pm; Friday and Saturday until midnight.
You can order until 1 am Friday and Saturday at Croton Creek Steakhouse & Wine Bar (4 W Cross St, Croton Falls 914-276-0437), where chorizo mussels, soft-shell crab sliders, and cheese fondue are some of the standouts on the bistro menu known as “Late Night Lunch.” The restaurant recently opened an outdoor terrace so if it’s still warm out, you can dine beneath the stars.
The waitresses with their lilting Irish accents and patience—even at 11:30 pm on a rainy night when you can’t decide between a BLT or breakfast—is one thing that sets apart Eileen’s Country Kitchen (964 McLean Ave, Yonkers 914-776-2001). The other is the reliable food. Despite the diner-like hours (it’s open every day 6 am to midnight), this is no roadside greasy spoon but a cozy gathering adorned with wallpaper and knickknacks that give it the feeling of an old home, albeit one that feels like it was transported from County Cork. Whatever you do, don’t leave without feeding your late-night cravings with at least one of the specialties. Our faves? The shepherd’s pie, traditional Irish breakfasts, and sandwiches served on wheat soda bread.
Tuna tartare and a cool glass of Pouilly Fuissé hit the late-night spot at the Gnarly Vine (501 Main St, New Rochelle 914-355-2541), where the kitchen is open until midnight during the week, 1 am on weekends. (We’re also big fans of the Sicilian meatballs with dried currants, pine nuts, and Parmigiano; the prosciutto and arugula pizza; and the selection of creative quesadillas.) Granted, this snug wine bar features more spirits than food, but the dishes are so thoughtfully prepared and presented, we’re not complaining. In fact, we’re ready for that second round!
There’s a definite party atmosphere at Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar (1 Playland Pkwy, Rye 914-967-1020), where the music is loud and the kitchen is open weekdays until 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays till 1 am. Owner John Ambrose (often in a Panama hat and Bermuda shorts) and his partner, Sam Chernin, are all about fun and have decorated their newest seaside restaurant (they also own Seaside Johnnie’s at the other end of the boardwalk) in Tropical Island Faux. Sit under a thatched umbrella and order a coconut shrimp appetizer or munch on mozzarella sticks just before last call.
The décor’s not much (think take-out kebab house with a TV that’s perpetually set to Turkish travelogue programming), but the food is authentic and delightful at Turkish Cuisine (116 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-683-6111), where locals rave about the Israeli salad, the falafel, the veggie appetizer platter, and the chicken gyro, not to mention the large portions at fair prices. Open Fridays and Saturdays until midnight.
Texas Chili (8 Main St, Port Chester 914-937-0840) is a bit more upscale than Hubba (it’s still a dive, though, just less so) and owned by a former Hubba employee. Texas serves chili (of course), burgers, and more. Open until 1 am weekdays, 4 am weekends.
Larchmont writer Jeanne Muchnick admits her late nights are more often spent waiting up for her teenage girls than dining out. Muchnick is a frequent contributor to many national and local publications and blogs at jeannemuchnick.com.