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  • Writer's pictureSara

A Definitive Ranking of the Triangle’s Late-Night Eats

As a lady of the evening, I often find myself perusing the late-night food options of the triangle. While we may technically be a metro, most restaurants close by 9 or 10 pm at the latest, even on weekends, leaving me to hangrily explore the remaining options. As such, I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of late-night fare. So, without further ado, I give you a definitive ranking of eats available after 10 pm in the Triangle.

1. Any non-chain restaurant

This automatically gets first place for even being open past their industry peers. If you can find one open late at night it’s almost certainly the best option and you have a chance of getting a meal that wasn’t frozen within 30 min of you eating it. Support local!

2. Carolina Alehouse/BJs Brewhouse/other chain sports bars

The menu is decent and seating is available. It's probably overpriced for the quality but I’m not going to complain since my options aren’t limited to a burger, chicken sandwich/tenders, or a salad.

3. Hooters

It’s not just the hot wings I’m going for. Although it’s a limited menu, you do get the pleasure of being served by beautiful ladies and all the sports you could want on the big screens. I recommend a salad with chicken for the more health conscious or a burger for the traditional. Don’t get too adventurous in your ordering or you might be disappointed in what you actually get. Don’t forget to tip generously.

4. Cookout

The quintessential budget fast food. You can get a whole meal, drink, and shake for under $10 but at least one item in your order will be wrong. If you have anxiety, their drive-through manners are sure to trigger it when they shout at you through their mic. Personally, I like the chargrilled chicken breast and cheese bites. I’m still working my way through their 40+ flavors of shakes which I have yet to be able to drink through a straw. I have qualms with labeling anything that requires a spoon to eat a “beverage.”

5. Waffle House

I know I don’t drink and that pretty much precludes me from eligibility to eat here but hear me out. I love breakfast for dinner. Their waffles are top-notch. The eggs are a little runny and the bacon is a little chewy for my taste but sometimes you have to roll with it. You might get an unwanted show with your dinner and you will probably freeze if you dine in since they keep it like a meat locker but the chocolate pie is to die for.

6. Wendy’s/Arby's

I literally have no feelings about them beyond that they’re marginally better than the fast food options below.

7. Sheetz

Loses points for the lack of a drive-through but gains points for having a good selection of sweets for dessert. Check your bag before you leave, you’re probably missing something.

8. Pizza delivery

If you don’t mind waiting an hour or more for your food, this is a decent option and will probably be tasty. My go-to is Papa John’s since the local spots close early.

9. Taco Bell

They use fake cheese and you will have gastric distress tomorrow.


The ice cream and coffee machines will definitely be “down” (read, already cleaned so they’re not turning them back on for the night). They may or may not have what you order and your chicken nuggets will probably be dried out and cold.

What spots did I miss? Which is your favorite for late-night cravings?

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