After a long night of partying, sometimes you just need a good meal. Check out these Milwaukee hotspots when it's time to satisfy your fourth-meal craving.

Red Light’s tonkotsu. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

Hipster Haven

Red Light Ramen by Ardent
The noodle shop that started as a late-night pop-up resto-inside-another-resto (Ardent) now lives a solo life Wed-Sat next door to its dining sibling. Just as when it served only at the witching hours, there’s often a line of mostly 20- and 30-somethings forming outside the entrance. The later it is, the more likely you’re hitting the after-bar crowd. And despite winter’s wicked temperatures, the brandy old fashioned slushies flow freely. Serves Wed-Sat until 1 a.m. 1749 N. Farwell Ave.

The Classic

Real Chili
Some diners will only belly up to this true institution when most others have bedded down for the night. There’s just something about a bowl of seasoned finely ground beef (ordered mild, medium or hot) with your choice of noodles, beans, jalapenos, onions, cheese and sour cream. Fact is this deliciously greasy creation coats a sloshy beer stomach very well. Serves nightly until 3 a.m. 419 E Wells St.; 1625 W. Wells St.

Sausage Galore

The Vanguard
An homage to sausage, which comes in incarnations classic (brat with sauerkraut) to styled (Hungarian, with cream cheese, pineapple, BBQ sauce and basil), this Bay View hangout serves bun-wrapped foods anethema to
dieticians. Make friends at the bar with comrades watching old wrestling vids (think Hulk Hogan). Serves until 2 a.m. 2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

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Photo by Will Skaggs

Best for Burgers

Elsa’s on the Park
The heavy glass doors open to a room of diverse, fashionable, Cosmo-sipping locals dining amid modern décor with always striking, rotating artwork. Elsa’s – the fancy sister to Kopp’s custard shops – is best known for burgers and pork sandwiches. But late-night warrants messy gluttony like the nachos supreme and Buffalo wings. Serves nightly until 1 a.m. 833 N. Jefferson St.

Diners at Elsa’s on the Park. Photo by Will Skaggs

Updated Diner Fare

Comet Cafe
The East Side architect of AJ’s Compact Turkey Dinner (Thanksgiving inside a deep-fried ball) recently added another hour of kitchen service for those craving vegan Salisbury steak or a bacon-wrapped meatloaf sandwich before bed. Menu includes vegetarian items and affordable prices, served until midnight. 1947 N. Farwell Ave.

Pita Delight

Gyro Palace
Greeks must like to stay up late, since few Greek restaurants don’t serve into the wee hours. Which is a good thing, because a gyro smothered in onions and tzatziki makes a great midnight snack. You don’t even have to get out of your car; this palace has a convenient drive-thru. Serves Sun-Thurs until 2:30 a.m., Fri-Sat until 3:30 a.m. 602 S. Second St., 5308 S. 27th St. 

Upscale Chow

As the “dinner” crowd thins out, this cozy, high-decibel dining room is a natural for service-industry and second-shifters who want a substantial, chef-driven meal. That’s difficult to find in this town. Between the prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and the spicy crab bucatini, this partnership of hearty, imaginative cuisine with craft beer and cocktails caps off an evening nicely. Full menu until 1 a.m. 2457 S. Wentworth Ave.

Goodkind; Photo by Michael Goelzer

Bring the Kids

Classic Slice
Young families and Bay View Gen Y-ers occupy the old school tables and window-counter seating in this boisterous NY-style pizza joint. The single slices are easily two servings of chewy, saucy goodness (with toppings basic to over-the-top). Whole pies, calzones, wonderful meatball subs, and vegan cupcakes are available, too. A stack of old kids’ board games provides entertainment. Serves til midnight Tues-Sat. 2797 Kinnickinnic Ave.

What to Order at Webb’s

It’s 3 a.m. You’re starving. The obvious option: George Webb, the Wisconsin-based chain of 24-hour diners. Clearly, Webb’s is more about sustenance than fine dining. With that in mind, four hungry editors dined at the Old World 3rd Street spot seeking to find palatable menu items. But even with low expectations, we were underwhelmed. The cheeseburger’s bun-to-meat ratio was 3 to 1; the saltines and grated cheese had more flavor than the runny chili they accompanied, and even a lot of tabasco couldn’t save the Salsa Skillet. Eat here only if you’re so drunk the memory won’t linger. But if you’re at Webb’s at 3 a.m., that’s probably the case.

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‘MKE After Dark’ appears in the February 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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