Being hungry is never easy. Sometimes in life you just need a dependable place where you know you can sit down and enjoy a decent meal at any hour of the day or night. For this reason, we’re very thankful that 24-hour chain restaurants exist, and these are the 10 best.
It can be tricky trying to track down a place to eat at, say, three in the morning. Driving through just about anywhere in America at that hour, the odds of finding anything that’s open are slim to none. Very few independently owned restaurants remain open 24 hours a day, simply because it’s expensive to keep employees working through the night when there very well might be no customers to serve. But chain restaurants generally have deeper pockets than independent ones, so some of them go above and beyond the call of duty and remain open around the clock.
Unfortunately, only a couple of chain restaurants remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most chains do a cost-benefit analysis from location to location to see which ones are the least likely to lose money by remaining open all the time, so only a percentage of them will be open 24/7. Some outposts of chain restaurants are only open round the clock on the weekends, when the late-night crowd is decidedly larger.
To determine which 24-hour chains are the best, we used a couple factors. First, chains that were open 24/7 across the board at all locations definitely earned some extra points. Second, we paid special attention to full-service restaurants where you’ll get the same treatment (and the same menu) in the middle of the night as you would at 7 p.m. At certain chains, even if you’re the only customer, and it’s the wee small hours of the morning, you can have the reasonable expectation of a quality experience.
We note which chains keep all of their locations open 24/7, but as for the rest, make sure you call ahead to see if your nearest outpost will be open, because there’s nothing more disappointing than pulling up to get your late-night fix and learning that you can’t have it.
#10 Steak ‘n Shake
A couple years back, Steak ‘n Shake decided to get in on the 24-hour game, and launched a new “Up All Night” menu to be served at selected locations. It’s guaranteed to give you indigestion; for some reason, they assumed that night owls were the type of people who eat things like a cheeseburger burger with seven patties on it and a skillet with hash browns, chili, two burgers or sausage patties, cheese, and eggs. We give them points for effort, but they’re trying a bit too hard.
Sometimes you just need a Big Mac, and lots of McDonald’s locations are open 24/7 for just that purpose. We wouldn’t advise loitering over your meal for an hour at 3 a.m. (and we should note that some locations are drive-thru only), but if you’re on the road, starving, and looking for something comforting to pick up, McDonald’s can be a sight for sore eyes.