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Five of the Best Late Night Eateries

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by Mark Wolfenbarger

 

Fast food restaurants and nation-wide chain diners seem to be a popular choice for the late-night crowd. At 3am, some people are beyond the point of caring what they put in their stomachs, but many people just aren’t aware of the alternatives. There are alternatives, however, including late-night eateries such as:

 

Fray’s Donuts

With breakfast and deli sandwiches, bagels, and over 40 varieties of donuts, Fray’s Donuts is an ideal place for a late night snack. Types of donuts range from your basic glazed to signature donuts like coconut cream pie. Their donuts are also made fresh every day, by hand, and they leave out the filler. No preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup. Fray’s even cracks the eggs they use for their breakfast sandwiches.

Cracking eggs might not seem like a big deal, but as all-around counter operator Caitlin Reed told me, “Some people are surprised when I tell them we crack our own eggs.”

That’s because chain donut shops often modify their eggs with preservatives like xanthan gum, food starch, salt, and citric acid.

On the inside, Fray’s has the feel of a throwback diner, i.e., booths, and a long counter with bar stools. It’s a great place to relax at the end of a busy evening. If you’re in a hurry, however, Fray’s also has a full-service drive-thru.

Location(s) & Hours of Operation

4900 Park Blvd, Pinellas Park, FL 33781 – (24/7)

Prices

$0.93 – $3.69 for individual donuts, sandwiches, not including extras.

 

Vito and Michael’s

Vito and Michael’s is one of the few restaurants on Pinellas County’s south beaches that you will find open in the early morning hours. It’s also the only one serving fast, authentic Italian food. We’re talking pasta dishes like baked ziti and stuffed shells, several different kinds of sub sandwiches, and massive pizza slices.

Manager Daniel Carneiro said this combination is what attracts the, “Diverse crowd of bar-goers and late-shift workers.”

Whether you’re in the mood for a whole pizza or a pasta dinner, Vito and Michael’s offers its full menu from the time it opens, at 11am, to the time it shuts down, at 4am. They also have pizza by the slice for those who aren’t interested in leftovers.  Dine-in or take-out is available from open to close.

Location(s) & Hours of Operation

7704 Blind Pass Road, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706 – (Mon – Sun/ 11am – 4am)

Prices

From $3.95 for an individual slice to $14.95 for a large pizza, not including extras.

 

Kristina’s Café

Twenty-four hour diners aren’t hard to come by. Drive around the Tampa Bay area, and you will find plenty of diners offering mediocre food for cheap. Kristina’s Café, on the other hand, offers some of the best diner fare around at a low price.

When asked what it is that attracts people to Kristina’s Café, waitress Tina Musabelli said it’s the, “Good food, big portions, and low prices.”

Not only are the portions big, but the menu is, too. Country fried steak, biscuits and gravy, club sandwiches, and steak hoagies are just a few of the favorites from Kristina’s four-page menu. In addition to good food, Kristina’s Café gives you the choice of sitting indoors or outdoors on the covered patio, a unique feature that many (or most) traditional diners don’t offer. It’s a great way for people to enjoy the nighttime air while they eat.

Location(s) & Hours of Operation

3590 34th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33713 – (24/7)

Prices

Prices for entrees range from $2.95 to $9.95.

 

Burrito Boarder

Of all the Tex-Mex restaurants in the Tampa Bay area, Burrito Boarder is, perhaps, the most unique. You will not find another Tex-Mex restaurant in the area with snowboard-shaped seats and skimboard-shaped tables. There are also surfboards hanging on the walls, and a sequence of skateboards suspended from the ceiling that simulate a flip-trick.

Along with a vibrant staff, Burrito Boarder’s boarding culture theme gives it a, “laid back, local vibe,” shift leader John Macdonald said.

In addition to the beach-hut atmosphere, Burrito Boarder offers some of the best late night Tex-Mex in downtown St. Pete. Whether you choose tacos or a salad bowl, you will have plenty of options to fill or top it with. Some of the fillings/toppings include: baja fish, Angus ground beef, adobo grilled chicken, rice, black or pinto beans, and various salsas and sauces. The burrito bomb is recommended for those with a gargantuan pit in their stomachs. It can end up weighing almost as much as a newborn baby, depending on what you put in it. If you’re in the area after 2pm on a Tuesday, Burrito Boarder also offers $1 tacos for its “Taco Tuesdays”.

Location(s) & Hours of Operation

17 3rd St N, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701 – (Mon-Wed, Sun/ 11am–10pm; Thu/ 11am – 1am; Fri – Sat/ 11am–3:30am)

 

Taco Bus

The Taco Bus started out as a mobile food-truck that traveled around the Tampa Bay area. Being mobile made it difficult for customers to track down the Mexican food-slinging school bus, however, so the original bus eventually parked for good in the historic Seminole Heights neighborhood of central Tampa. What sets the Taco Bus apart from the other Mexican restaurants of its kind is its emphasis on authentic Mexican food, as opposed to the Americanized “Tex-Mex” style.

Or, as marketing director Aviva Bowman puts it, “The Taco Bus is Mex-Mex, not Tex-Mex.” i.e., no hard tortilla shells, less starch, different seasonings, etc.

Along with a traditional Mexican style, the Taco Bus also offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, which makes it a good choice for the meat-free and gluten-sensitive customers. Vegan tempeh, Mexican seasoned tofu, and vegan “steak” strips, are a few of the meat-free options. Gluten-free items include: corn tortillas and tostadas, carne asada steak, shredded pork, chicken, as well as several other meats and fillings.

Location(s) & Hours of Operation

913 East Hillsborough Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604 – (24/7)

2324 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33712 – (Mon -Wed/ 7am – 9pm; Thu – Sun/ 24/7)

505 Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602 – (Sun – Wed/ 11am – 10pm; Thu – Sat/ 11am – 3am)

2320 E. Fletcher Avenue, Tampa, FL 33612 – (Sun – Wed/ 11am – 10pm; Thu – Sat/ 11am – 4am)

Prices

Entrees range in price from $1.99 to $8.50.

 

 

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