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Rest of the Best 2013

The top 10 late-night dining restaurants in Houston.

Best of Houston

It's 2:15 in the morning. The bar has just closed, and you know you're going to be in trouble tomorrow unless you find somewhere with food that will help soak up all the booze you inadvertently consumed. Where do you go?

In the past, we've rounded up the best late-night restaurants in Houston, but this year we're taking it a step further. We're compiling a list of the best restaurants that stay open even after the bars have closed. You think midnight is late? Amateur. Some of these restaurants are open until 4 a.m. or, better yet, 24 hours.

Nothing wards off a hangover like Tex-Mex at Spanish Flowers.
Jeff Balke
Nothing wards off a hangover like Tex-Mex at Spanish Flowers.
The Melting Pot does fondue right.
Minh T. Truong
The Melting Pot does fondue right.

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And the best thing about this list? These eateries are all over town. No matter where you find yourself hungry in the middle of the night, there's bound to be a surefire spot nearby, ready and waiting to serve up some hangover-healing grub.

10. Waffle House

What is there left to say about Waffle House that hasn't already been said? It's open 24 hours, around the clock. The events that go down there after hours are the stuff of legend. People from all walks of life, all neighborhoods, all ethnicities and in varying degrees of undress make their way into WaHo (as I affectionately call it) after lesser establishments close for the evening. I've been to WaHo at 4 a.m. and found a 30-minute wait for a table; that's how popular the purveyor of mediocre waffles and awesome hash browns is in the middle of the night. Don't be fooled by the late hour. It's a tight space, and the efficient servers aim to get you in and out in as short a time as possible.

9. Whataburger/Taco Cabana

My two favorite fast-food restaurants are grouped together because that is how I recall visiting them late at night in college in San Antonio. There was a Taco C on the way home from pretty much anywhere (including the original Taco C, I might add), and a Whataburger down the street another mile or so in the direction of my house. Inevitably, someone in the group would want queso and someone else would want fries. And then someone would decide that he wanted fries and queso and a milkshake and a quesadilla. Trust me, it's a great combo at 3:15 a.m. I would also swear by Taco C queso and tortillas as guaranteed hangover killers.

8. Katz's Deli

If you're in the mood for something a little more upscale and...um...kosher than fast food, give Katz's a try. The sign outside is true: Katz's "never kloses." So if you're hungry, you can get bagels and lox or a corned beef and cabbage sandwich any time, day or night. In addition to truly massive sandwiches, Katz's offers great comfort food like matzo ball soup, spaghetti and meatballs, and breakfast served all day and night. Oh, and if you're feeling truly adventurous, check out the dessert case. "World's tallest 7-layer chocolate cake"? Don't mind if I do.

7. Ruchis

There are six Ruchis El Rincón de Méxicos in the greater Houston area, and most of them are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to satisfy all your nighttime Tex-Mex cravings. Where else can you get mesquite-seasoned tilapia filets with grilled shrimp, rice, french fries and salad for $14 in the wee hours of the morning? Only here. Okay, actually, there's one other place I know of, and it's also on the list. But when you're craving the greasy, fatty Tex-Mex food of your youth, chances are Ruchis is only a short drive or cab ride away.

6. Dot Coffee Shop

The coffee shop that "never locks its doors" opened in Houston in 1967. At the time, it was the first concept from the Pappas brothers, who now have a Houston empire. If your idea of comfort food falls more in line with chicken-fried steak, bacon cheeseburgers and buffalo wings than queso and enchiladas, Dot is sure to satisfy. The retro eatery promises made-from-scratch food comparable to what Grandma used to make. As at Waffle House, breakfast is served all day and all night, but Dot's list of breakfast items, like French toast and banana nut pancakes, is far more extensive than ol' WaHo's.

5. House of Pies

Anyone who knows me is aware of how much I love House of Pies. It's within walking distance from my house, and it's open 24 hours a day, which makes it the ideal late-night eatery. Plus, I don't have to decide between greasy-spoon grub or awesome desserts, because HOP has both. The Kirby location is currently closed for renovations after a fire that shuttered it in early November, but the owners have assured Houstonians that they will have pie for Christmas this year. I don't know about you, but that's all I want for Christmas: Bayou Goo at 3 a.m. once again. Dear Santa, I hope you're listening.

4. Spanish Flowers

When dining in the middle of the night, one ­often has to choose convenience over taste. Is it open? Yes. Then it's going to have to do. Not so with Spanish Flowers, which is just as delicious during the day as it is in the dark after several margaritas. Piping hot, freshly made tortillas and bright, zingy salsa will go a long way toward perking up the evening, while the thick, creamy queso del mar or earthy enchiladas mole will soak up any alcohol left in your stomach while simultaneously tantalizing your tastebuds. Spanish Flowers closes only between 10 p.m. Tuesday night and 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.

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