We’ve all been there. It’s late, and after a night out with friends, a craving arrives. The question is, what to eat? Sweet or savory, all around the world cultures have invented mouthwatering dishes that will satisfy those late night hankerings.
Whether they are fried snacks or street food finds, hangover foods are often indulgent and always delicious. And if one thing’s for certain, after a night out at the bar, calorie counting is not on the brain. In fact, many cultures thrive on street food snacking as a way of life.
To hit the spot, we’ve come up with a list of the best drinking food. Some dishes are tied to deep regional tradition, while some are new inventions—but they’re all delicious.
Often called “Japanese pizza” or a “Japanese pancake” this regional Hiroshima and Kansai specialty packs a punch. Prepared to order on griddles, this savory delight is piled high with a huge variety of ingredients. Typically a thin layer of batter is topped with eggs, cabbage, meat (often pork belly), squid, noodles, and cheese topped with special sauce.
Made by braising or simmering pork in lard for hours until tender, pork carnitas originated in the Mexican state of Michoacán. The juicy, seasoned meat is then served with cilantro, salsa, and guacamole on tortillas.
Who doesn’t love a donut? But our undisputed favorite has to be Duck Donuts, which originated on the Outer Banks and has now spread through Georgia, Virginia, and the East Coast. Fresh, warm donuts are constantly churned out, made to order right before your eyes. As you watch your donut travel down the conveyor belt, pick glazes like peanut butter, maple, and cinnamon sugar. And if that weren’t enough, sprinkle on a little bacon, shredded coconut, or Oreos.
There’s nothing more indulgent—or Canadian—than poutine. Originating from Quebec, they’ve become the symbolic national drinking snack. French fried smothered with cheese curds and gravy, what more can you ask for? Oh yes, some restaurants have taken to also adding a variety of meats to up the ante. Poutine has even made its way across the border, with the New Jersey variant “Disco Fries.” Switching out the cheese curds for Mozzarella or Provolone, they originated as a late night snack in diners after the discos closed.
It’s impossible to visit Argentina without trying at least one empanada. This stuffed bread pastry can be found across Latin America, but have a special stronghold in Argentina. Specialty shops churn out a huge variety of empanadas, with different regions perfecting slightly different recipes. In Buenos Aires, a meat-stuff empanada is a fast food staple—a quick, cheap treat to satisfy cravings.
Haggis may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this national dish of Scotland can be used to make bite size Haggis balls. Traditionally accompanied by whiskey, it’s no wonder these fried treats are often served with a whiskey mustard sauce.
Islak burgers, also known as “Wet burgers,” is an unmistakable staple of Istanbul street food. It’s impossible to miss the vendors, who stand at every corner with carts fitted with a transparent box full of burgers. What makes them wet? That would be the tomato-based sauced they are dunked in before going inside the steamy box. It may sound odd but these local favorites fly out of the box at 2 am, as late night snackers devour the garlicky patties.
Supplì al telefono
Originating from the area around Rome, these fried rice balls are called “al telefono” for a clever reason. The balls, which contain rice and a tomato meat sauce, include a mozzarella center. After the balls have been fried, the string of melted cheese is reminiscent of a telephone cord—back when we used phones with cords. This cheap snack is commonly found as an appetizer in pizzerias and shops selling pizza by the slice.
If you are looking for something sweet to end your evening, you may want to hop on the next plane to El Salvador. The fried plantains have a light caramel coating and are topped with a scoop of condensed milk. The indulgent treat is often eaten for breakfast, but is available at all hours of the day from street vendors.
Potato Wrapped Hotdog
Hot dogs and french fries are classics, but what if they were combined together and put on a stick? That’s basically what you have in Seoul, where street vendors sell hotdogs on a stick, spiral-wrapped with one long, delicious french fry.
This traditional Georgian dish has all the makings of a perfect hangover snack. Khachapuri is cheese stuffed bread topped with egg and is the country’s national dish. Shaped like a boat, the bread’s crust is ripped off and used to dip into the gooey center. To understand how much of a staple it is, inflation is actually measured against the price of making it, something called the Khachapuri index.
New York City
Pizza is a go-to staple after any night of drinking, but there’s nothing quite like the New York dollar slice. People rhapsodize about the quest for the perfect $1 slice, a phenomenon that started popping up in Manhattan in the late-00s. In a town full of high end options, at the end of the day, there’s no beating this budget-friendly snack.
Street food and Russia might not seem like a likely pairing, but there are no shortage of snacks that pair well with a beer. Chebureki are tiny fried pockets filled with mince meat and onion, a seemingly humble food that was the national dish of the Crimean Tartars.
A term for all kinds of bread, bahn mi mainly refers to the French baguette that was introduced during colonialism. It’s also become synonymous with tasty baguette stuffed sandwiches. The filling can vary, but is often steamed pork belly topped with an assortment of vegetables like cucumbers, pickled carrots, and white radishes.
Mission Viejo, CA
Corned Beef Tacos
Innovative tacos are all the rage, but Patsy’s Irish Pub in Mission Viejo, CA puts a decidedly Irish twist on their version. These corned beef tacos are served with a side of creamy horseradish sauce and topped with shredded cabbage, making the perfect pairing with a pint.
Brick Lane Bagels
New Yorkers may take issue with including bagels from London, but the 24-hour Beigal Bake on Brick Lane is an institution. Since 1977 they serve up fresh bagels stuffed with salted beef or slathered with cream cheese and salmon to late night revelers. They churn out up to 7,000 bagels a day, so they must be doing something right.
The shawarma, or its cousin the döner kebab, are popular throughout Europe. Especially popular in Berlin, where Turkish immigrants brought their cuisine, this delicious dish is based on slices of roasted meat cooked on a spit. The juicy shavings are rolled into a pita and topped with an assortment of vegetables, french fries, and condiments. In the Netherlands, the especially popular shawarma is often topped with a generous helping of garlic sauce.
Tripe soup? This may seem like an odd choice, but according to food writer Katie Parla tells us via email that işkembe çorbası—as it’s known in Turkey—is popular “consumed in the wee hours after drinking, it has the pleasing effect of soaking up all the alcohol of a hard night out and sort of sending you off to bed with a belly full of earthy soul food.”
Street food in Kuala Lumpur is more than just eating, it’s a way of life. When the sun goes down, night markets serve the heaving crowds that come out when the city cools down. Here, there’s no end to the choices that will fulfill late night cravings, but we’re especially fond of the grilled meat skewers that are crispy, salty, and hit the spot.
There’s nothing more hangover-worthy than a straight up bacon sandwich. This UK classic was once voted the thing Brits love the most about their country. For two slices of buttered bread with bacon and brown sauce, that’s pretty high marks. Scientists at Newcastle University have even investigated the reasons why it helps cure a hangover.
Known as golgappa in North India and phuchhka in East India, this beloved snack is sold by street vendors across the country. Round, hollow Indian bread is fried to a crisp and filled with flavored water, tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion, and chickpeas. The flavored water is typically sour, tangy, and spicy, which is balanced out by the sweet chutney.
FEBO Snack Vending Machine
We’d be remiss not to mention this mecca to fried snacks in the Netherlands. For over 40 years these automats let you choose from a wide variety of items from a traditional mince-meat hotdog and croquette on a roll to deep-fried cheese. You simply insert your coins and open the glass compartment of the snack of your choice. The genius kiosk was started by a pastry chef in Amsterdam in 1960 and has since spread across the country.