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.
A few years back, Steak ‘n Shake decided to get in on the 24-hour game, and many locations are open 24/7, serving the full menu around the clock.
Sometimes you just need a Big Mac, and lots of McDonald’s locations are open 24/7 for just that purpose. You may not want to 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.
American runs on Dunkin’, and lots of Dunkin’ Donuts are open 24 hours for those who need their coffee and doughnut fix. Their non-doughnut food menu is constantly growing as well. You can now grab a steak and egg sandwich, ham and cheese, and their Big and Toasted (with two eggs, bacon, and cheese on Texas toast) at any hour of the day or night at participating locations.
The vast majority of Jack in the Box’s more than 2,250 locations are open 24/7, with most of their late-night business coming by way of drive-thru. But in order to get folks out of their car and into the restaurant, in 2013 they launched a new late-night approach, turning up the dance music, having employees wear purple and black uniforms, and offering $6 special meal combos from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Options including drunk-munchies like a cheeseburger topped with a grilled cheese; chicken nuggets topped with two types of cheese sauce, ranch, and bacon; and a chicken sandwich topped with bacon, hash browns, and cheese sauce. You may need the metabolism of a runner to get through it, but compared to most fast food joints, Jack in the Box actually sounds like it would be a fun place to visit late at night.
Perkins has more than 400 locations in the United States and Canada; franchises are given the option of being open 24/7, and plenty of them are. Those lucky enough to find themselves near a 24-hour Perkins will be in for a wide variety of omelettes and egg dishes, pancakes, Belgian waffles, Southern fried chicken biscuits, salads, sandwiches, and a menu of options with fewer than 600 calories. Each restaurant also has a bake shop, so don’t miss the pie.
Taco Cabana has more than 160 locations across Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, and the vast majority of them are open 24 hours a day. The chain is best known for its patio dining areas as well as the fact that most menu items are made daily, including tortillas. Their breakfast tacos are on-point, the Cabana Plates (especially the ones with shredded brisket) are the ultimate in drunk food. So are the fajitas, nachos, quesadillas, and, of course, burritos. If you’re in the mood for late-night Tex-Mex and happen to be near a Taco Cabana, consider yourself lucky.
Select locations of IHOP, including most of the ones in major cities, are open 24/7, and those that aren’t tend to be open until at least 10 p.m. during the week and until midnight on the weekends. There are few 24-hour chains that offer a better breakfast after midnight, with (of course) lots of pancakes to go around, as well as waffles, crêpes, omelettes, and French toast. But the dinner items, including burgers, fried chicken, and sirloin steak tips, are also surprisingly solid.
Denny’s is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the chain prides itself on being “always open, always welcoming and always serving up hearty diner food along with a mug of fresh hot coffee.” The low-key table service restaurants have an expansive menu that is, for the most part, available around the clock. Everything from the famous Grand Slam breakfast to chicken-fried steak, burgers, salads, pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs, and sirloin steak is there to satisfy just about any craving.
Waffle House is the quintessential late-night chain. When they say that all locations are open 24/7, they mean it: They’re even open over major holidays, and when a major storm is on its way they stock up on supplies to make sure that they won’t run out of anything. Heck, emergency management teams even have a “Waffle House Index” they use to judge the severity of an act of God, because if the local Waffle House is closed, that means that it must be bad. And you can’t beat the menu: whether you’re in the mood for breakfast, lunch, or a t-bone steak, they’ve got just about every late-night craving covered.