Late Night Scene: 59 Diner

It's hard not to love a place where everything comes with pancakes. Walking into 59 Diner after a night of partying is like stopping in a recovery room. Everything is bright and blindingly clean, dishes are cheap, big and full of alcohol-soaking carbs, and the waiters have the patience of saints or preschool teachers, not batting an eye when someone, say, re-enacts the "Single Ladies" dance in an aisle. They just smile, step around you, and recommend the pancakes.

In a group of five, we manage to order around half the menu: chili cheese fries, fried mushrooms, a typical breakfast combo (pancakes included) and an absolutely spectacular combo of chicken fried steak and eggs, which comes with hash browns (we subbed in more fries, the better to dip in that gravy) and, yes, pancakes. As soon as the plates hit the table, like clockwork, the drunken shenanigans stop and a quiet, intense shoveling in of unhealthy deliciousness begins.

The crowd peaks around 2:30 a.m., with about a third of the booths full with a young but diverse crowd; some people are decked out in clubbing gear, but most are casual. A red uniform-clad baseball team has the back of the restaurant to itself, and while most people are focused on their friends, it seems for a while like everyone is watching us. It's relaxing to realize that it's not actually our piggish pancake frenzy causing a commotion, just a highlight reel of the day's college football games playing on the giant flat-screen TV above our heads. As the gravy/syrup combo enters the bloodstream, we're no longer full of crazy energy but feeling relaxed and ready to go home and fall into a mild coma. Mission accomplished.

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