Food & Drink

Soul Food, Tacos & Giant Sundaes: The East Bay's Best Late-Night Dining

Published On 05/04/2016 Published On 05/04/2016

Szechuan fever: Spices 3

Chinatown, Oakland

If you're feeling the need for heat, hit up Spices 3 for some serious Szechuan game. Expect red chilis, chili oil, and sincere levels of spice in pretty much everything at this Chinatown standout, open till 11 every night except Sunday (and then it's open till 10:30).

Flickr/Thomas Hawk

Fix your sweet tooth: Fentons Creamery

North Oakland

Dishing up ridiculously large sundaes since 1894, Fenton’s will cure that late night sugar craving. They also serve classic diner food like grilled cheese, burgers, and fries... but, honestly, who needs a meal when there are usually more than 50 flavors of ice cream on offer? Don't try to pretend that you’re not going to get a banana special sundae the size of your head. This classic joint stays open till midnight on weekends, and 11pm through the week. 

Hit the hip scene: Mua Oakland

Uptown Oakland

Stylish, gourmet food in a beautiful-people spot: the modern industrial design and snazzy bar scene are sure to impress your date, and the DJ spinning old-school jams adds to your savoir faire. The perfect end after an evening exploring Oakland First Fridays, when Mua stays open till midnight. (You can hit it up until 11 the rest of the week, and 10 on Sundays).

Courtesy of Analog

Righteous sandwiches: Analog

Downtown Oakland

Open till midnight on weekdays and 2am on weekends, carnivores and vegans alike get joyful heart palpitations at the downright delicious food on offer. Don’t neglect the sides, like the sweet potato salad, which is totally good. If you’re eating in, revel in the analog collection of VHS tapes and records while jammin’ out to the old-school jukebox.

Late-night carb-out: Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiana

Southside Berkeley

You're totally running a marathon tomorrow, right? Sure, that’s a completely legit reason to eat a massive serving of Gypsy’s decadent Crazy Alfredo at 11:30pm tonight. Seriously, their food is cheap, delicious, fast, and made from scratch -- plus they're open until midnight every night.


Essential late-night sushi: Shogun Japanese Grill & Sushi Bar

Grand Lake, Oakland

Shogun is the kind of place where you feel really good about eating: they source organically and locally, so you can dine pretty guilt-free. The food is great, they're open until midnight every night, and they're located just a minute walk from The Alley, a classic Oakland dive bar.

Home of Chicken and Waffles

Late-night comfort food: Home of Chicken & Waffles

Jack London Square, Oakland

Thankfully, this amazing place stays open until 4am every blessed night of the week, so you have no excuse not to try their syrup-drenched waffles and crispy fried chicken as night turns to dawn. If you're more into savory, get the biscuits and gravy... with cornbread and collards, too. Plus, there’s a full bar to wash it all down.

Classic munchie fix: Colonial Donuts

Grand Lake, Oakland

After midnight sushi on Grand, stroll around the corner to Lakeshore and eat as many donuts as you can stuff in your face. No time limit here: this classic donut joint is open 24 hours a day. Grab a pint of milk, watch the old dudes play chess, and settle in for some dietary damage.


Korean food with the gang: Jong Ga House

Lake Merritt, Oakland

Jong Ga House stays open till 11pm every night and is a crowd pleaser, so gather up a few friends and get ready to feast. You can order off the menu, but the better call is to cowboy up and go for the all you can eat barbecue. Be warned, though: the banchan -- those tiny dishes of pickled goodness they deliver unordered to your table -- might fill you up all on their own. Do this place up right by fasting all day, then pigging out on as much marinated barbecue beef as possible.

Flickr/Tony Webster

Louisiana late-night: Souley Vegan

Jack London Square, Oakland

This is one of those places where carnivores won't care that they aren't eating meat. Get fed proper at this Southern-comfort soul-food joint that serves Seitan Steak Plates well past your bedtime (10:30pm Tuesday-Thursday, and 11:30pm on Friday and Saturday). Spend the evening carousing near Jack London Square, then pop over here to fill your belly with okra gumbo, vegan mac & cheese, and Southern fried tofu...

Post-bar spectacular: Smoke’s Poutinerie

Southside Berkeley

It's worth excusing these guys for being a chain: they provide calorie-laden goodness until 4am every blessed night. If you're up that late, you might as well eat damn good fries doused in gravy, covered with meat, and swimming in cheese curds. And try the bulgogi.

Get sexy: Adesso

North Oakland

This is your late night date night option: Adesso serves straight-up sexy food in a modern atmosphere that’s open until midnight weeknights and 1am weekends. Go for the adesso misti, a nice plate that combines things like duck and pine nut salmui, crostini, ricotta, and olives Fancy cocktails, too -- the rye and cynar-based "kith & kin" is no joke. Plus, you'll seem so much more sophisticated wining and dining your date after 10pm -- not to mention, you’re more likely to get kissed. It’s a basically a statistical dating fact.

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1. Spices 3 Restaurants 369 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607-4248

This hole in the wall in Oakland's Chinatown specializes in seriously spicy Szechuan fare. Expect chili oil, chili peppers, and curry on the meat-centric, family-style menu. The hot pots are definitely a standout, especially the "Murder Style Gangsta Casserole" but vegetarian plates are equally piquant -- the vegetarian casserole isn't described as "Numbing" for no reason.

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2. Fentons Creamery 4226 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

Dishing up ridiculously large sundaes since 1894, Fentons in North Oakland will cure any and all sugar cravings. The creamery also serves classic diner food like grilled cheese, burgers, and fries...but honestly, who needs fried food when there are more than 50 classic flavors of ice cream (chocolate peanut butter crunch, Rocky Road, mocha almond fudge) waiting to be scooped up? To taste the best of Fentons, order the signature black & tan sundae -- toasted almond and vanilla ice cream layered with caramel and chocolate fudge, topped with toasted almonds, whipped cream, and of course, a cherry.

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3. Mua Oakland Bar & Restaurant 2442a Webster St., Oakland, CA 94612

Practically hidden in plain sight next to a car dealership, Mua is a hip, semi-industrial restaurant-slash-bar in uptown Oakland. The renovated warehouse space is extra homey with a living room setup and an airy dining area. Open for lunch, dinner, and late night, Mua serves up trendy shared plates like bacon-braised duck confit and equally stylish cocktails, like the Mua Manhattan. There's usually a DJ spinning tunes all night, too.

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4. Analog Oakland 414 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

Beer and sandwiches are what's on offer at this simple downtown Oakland spot. A small, but well-curated beer list features the likes of craft brewing all-stars Ommegang, Ballast Point and Old Rasputin. Meanwhile, the sandwich menu is split into carnivorous paninis and quirky vegan twists. On the decor front, Analog keeps things old really old school: the dining room's outfitted with a jukebox, VHS tapes, and 1980 Nintendo.

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5. Gypsy's Trattoria Italiana 2519 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

This Berkeley spot is unique for serving up really good gourmet Italian, fast-food style. Think of Gypsy's as the counter-serve version of Olive Garden, but better. Home-style pasta dishes like fettucine alfredo, gnocchi marinara, and ravioli bolognese are served alongside 10-inch pizzas in a neon parlor space. Gypsy's is popular with the student crowd thanks to its crazy good prices (everything is below $10) and late hours (it's open until midnight every day).

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6. Shogun Japanese Sushi and Grill 3417 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

Shogun is a one-stop shop for quality Japanese food in Grand Lake. The menu has a little bit of everything: sushi, sashimi, udon and ramen, tempura, teriyaki, and a whole slew of creative maki rolls. It's a solid option for reliable and quick meal or a take-out extravaganza. Two other bonuses: the ingredients are sourced locally and it's pretty affordable.

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7. Home of Chicken and Waffles 444 Embarcadero W, Oakland, CA 94607

Jack London Square's Home of Chicken & Waffles delivers exactly what it promises: fluffy stacks of syrup-drenched Belgian waffles and crispy buttermilk fried chicken. If you're more into savory, there are classic Southern plates like biscuits and gravy with cornbread and collard greens. Open from 10am to 1am (on Fridays and Saturdays, it's open until 4am), with a full bar to boot, this is the place to go for decadent, home-style fare no matter if you're starting your day or ending your night.

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8. Colonial Donuts 3318 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

This 24-hour East Bay donut shop is a regular hang for anyone looking to indulge their sweet tooth, grab a cup of coffee, or play a competitive round of chess (random but true). The old-school spot displays house-made donuts in classic flavors like chocolate buttermilk, maple frosted, and blueberry all day long. If you're looking for something more savory, Colonial Donuts also cooks up breakfast sandwiches. Beware: it's cash-only.

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9. Jong Ga House 372 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

This family-style pan-Asian restaurant is great for groups. Offering all you can eat Korean barbecue in addition to a variety of Japanese (shabu shabu and sushi, for example) and Korean dishes, the extensive menu ensures there's something for everyone. Cheap cocktails and shots only add to the good-time ambiance.

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10. Souley Vegan 301 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

This vegan soul food diner in Jack London Square is the kind of place where carnivores won't care that they aren't eating meat. The Southern comfort menu replaces all the soul food classics with meatless alternatives -- think Southern fried tofu, vegan mac & cheese, okra gumbo, and seitan chicken & waffles. Brunch is Souley's standout meal, complete with bottomless mimosas that pair well with blueberry pancakes and sweet potato waffles.

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11. Smoke's Poutinerie 2518 Durant Ave Unit A, Berkeley, CA 94704

This fast-casual Canadian chain brings poutine, that glorious Quebecois speciality, to the States. The counter-serve outpost in Oakland (it has a few locations across California) takes the traditional fries, cheese curd, and gravy dish and loads it with pork, chicken, steak, and veggies. The menu boasts an impressive array of poutine options, all available in three sizes -- snack, meal, and wow -- and served in convenient cardboard to-go containers.

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12. Adesso 4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

This Italian aperitivo bar in North Oakland specializes in house-cured salumi, thin-crust Roman-style pizza, and artisanal cocktails. The plates are a feast for the senses and a natural fit for the luxe, bustling locale. Bring a date, or stop by late night (Adesso's open til 1am on Fridays and Saturday) for salumi misti charcuterie or rye-soaked libations.