Just because you choose not to exist in daylight, is that any excuse to settle for less-than-fine 7-Eleven dining? Do insomniacs really deserve a tummy-ache life of fast food drive-through cuisine? Face it: After the closure of Salt Lake City’s beloved Bill & Nada’s 24-hour diner a few years ago, we of the late, late crowd saw our eats options dwindle to Hot Pockets and Gorditas. Not cool.
Of course, there are always joints like Denny’s and Village Inn open after hours, but they seem a bit staid for vampires. Truck stops on the Interstate? Open all night, but not exactly inviting to non-riggers. The hip ‘n’ trendy Orbit Café? Not technically a 24-hour operation, so you could be out of luck for 4 a.m. munchies.
Buck up, Eddie Munster—this is the part where some tasty 24-hour eatery alternatives are served up to appease your nocturnal appetite.
In the club-tastic downtown SLC area, Anchors Aweigh has become a de facto late-night hang, and not just because it’s ensconced right between the East and West office wings of your arbiter of cool, Salt Lake City Weekly. Anchors is a combo tavern, diner and coffee shop serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts at all hours, and most of the menu ain’t bad. If you prefer your burgers spiked with the flavorful aroma of cigarettes, smoking is not only allowed, but it’s encouraged. A major plus with late-nighters (if not breathers), as are the pool table and video games. However, the checkerboard floor can be a bit harsh on bleary 3 a.m. eyes—so don’t look down.
The Blue Iguana Expresso on West Temple is more about funky atmosphere, coffee and killer Mexican dishes in the style of the adjacent Blue Iguana proper. What goes down better in the dead of night than smothered tamales and a heaping plate of nachos? There’s probably no real answer for that, so BIE also serves more trad breakfast fare like huevos rancheros and con chorizo. There’s even a coffee table and couches, as well as exotic fake birds and the requisite pool table, so it’s almost like being home … if you’re El Vez.
Though rife with the trappings of a fast-food eatery (zero atmosphere, quickly-prepared food, drive-through windows, little English spoken, etc.) Alberto’s on 400 South and Molcasalsa in Holladay serve up some of the tastiest 24-hour Mexican food to be found—and it’s all insanely cheap. The mucho-celebrated burritos are roughly the size of your forearm and usually under three bucks, and an egg, cheese and sausage-loaded breakfast burrito can last you for days. Or nights, as you obviously prefer.
Not all of the good 24-hour eats are downtown: The full-menu Belgian Waffle & Omelet Inn in Midvale blows away practically all competition across the board when it comes to breakfasts any time of day—in the overnight small hours, forget it. The Garbage Hash (cheese-laden potatoes with ham, bacon, onions, peppers and mushrooms) is an under-$5 favorite, but the namesake waffles and omelets are the stuff of cheap (and fattening) fantasy. Your arteries may eventually need to be snaked but, whatever.
Should you find yourself searching in vain for sustenance in West Jordan or Orem at 4 a.m., condolences—for just being in West Jordan or Orem, that is. Despite their own claims, the original location of local franchise Tommie’s Hot Donuts (inside a Chevron convenience store on the north tip of the gaudy Jordan Landing strip mall) doesn’t really make the absolute greatest doughnut to be had in the Salt Lake Valley. Between dusk and dawn, however, the odd little dough-balls at least rule in West Jordan.
Down Orem way, the wildly overrated national Krispy Kreme franchise that attempted to weasel away Tommie’s domain name on the Internet is also, surprisingly, a 24-hour sugar shack. The fact that anything in Utah County is open 24 hours a day should serve as a sign that Zion has indeed made that bold step into the 20th century. Too bad we’re currently in the 21st, but you take what you can get.