Nocturnal Noshing

Originally published June 2007 by Current – Mobile, AL
Mobile has a bit of a problem. Even though the majority of the population works something other than Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, there is a shortage of places to get your grub on past 10 o’clock at night. Indeed there are a few worn-out fern bars, fast food joints, and 24 hour breakfast chains, but quality late night eateries are few and far between. Or maybe not.

Pass by any drive-thru between 10 and midnight and the long lines will testify to the fact that Mobile’s restaurant industry is missing out on a lot of money. Not everyone is allergic to making bank by serving the needs of a growing 24/7 city. Sure they are hidden but there are a handful of places that actually get it.

To qualify as a true late night spot food must be served until at least midnight. Among the non-fast food/breakfast house cuisines one can choose from are barbecue, sushi, and pizza. How about some miso soup? There is plenty of regular bar food out there, too like burgers, hot wings, and even gourmet breakfast. Let’s take a look.

Liquid Lounge on Dauphin Street at Washington Ave. bills itself as “an oasis of comfort in downtown Mobile.” Liquid has some very ingenious sushi rolls with whimsical names like Loco Kamikaze, Big Sur, and Sunset. The latter features salmon, avocado, and tangerine topped with spicy Thai peanut dressing. For dessert they have banana tempura with berries topped with chocolate and powdered sugar. Best of all they serve until 2AM.

Roger’s Barbecue in Toulmenville has simple but authentic southern barbecue. The smoker runs most of the time bringing chicken, turkey legs, and ribs to tender perfection. Roger’s is take-out only but it is just the ticket for those late night barbecue cravings as they are open till 2AM Monday through Thursday, 4AM on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday they close early, midnight. Roger’s is an inspirational respite from the flood of barbecue joints in town that close at the ridiculous hour of 9PM.

On weekends popular lunch stop Mama’s on Dauphin reopens at midnight and stays open “until,” which is usually means 5AM. A favorite among the restaurant employee sect who, like everyone else, love to meet their friends for a bite to eat after work, Mama’s gives night owls a chance to have a home cooked meal just like you know who used to make. The menu offers late night breakfast: eggs, bacon, grits, hash browns, and Conecuh sausage. But the Crab Benedict is decadence in the wee small hours. Non-breakfast items include gumbo, wings, and burgers.

Picklefish (across from Mama’s) is known for their wacky name and their fantastic white pizza. The white pizza is a healthy and delicious variation on the old standard substituting an olive oil and garlic base for the usual red sauce. Toppings include spinach, basil, and three cheeses, options include chicken and a cornucopia of veggies. They also offer salads, burgers, traditional Italian pies, and nearly two dozen po-boys until 3AM (at least) on Fridays and Saturdays.

Open 24/7/365 the Buckhorn Restaurant inside the TA Truck Stop in Grand Bay greets folks just returning from the Boats. The full menu is available at all times unless, according to Miss Mary, a bus wipes them out of something. The menu features breakfast, steaks, burgers, fried seafood, and a plethora of sandwiches.

Also serving until midnights on Fridays and Saturdays is the midtown legend, T.P. Crockmier’s on Florida St. Crockmier’s menu is ubercool featuring temptations like fried pickle spears, creative sandwiches, salads, steaks, seafood, omelets, and the Eggs Benedict that was voted the best in the nation by Travel & Leisure Magazine.

In the mood for more traditional sushi? Samurai J Sushi Bar on Bienville Square does the Friday/Saturday midnight thing, too. The menu includes lots of tempura dishes, traditional rolls, udon soup, and two chef specials for under $20 that include a boatload of sushi.

If you are headed back from the Gulf try to remember Category 5 in Foley which serves their terrific menu until 2AM seven days a week. A number of lounges in town also offer late night eats like Martini’s (downtown), The Double Olive (Midtown), Fabacher’s Grill (USA), and Bojangle’s (Azalea Rd. & Airport). If you are Jonesing for cafeteria-style food check out local hospitals as they generally serve something through the night.

So you can see that there are a handful of superb late night places in town and they are getting rich off this untapped market. Okay, so they actually are few and far between, but few is better than none.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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