I was in Manhattan over the weekend and had dinner around 10:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. In each instance, the restaurant was full and required a reservation.
Back home in Madison on Sunday, I thought: other than pizza, Perkins or Denny’s, there aren’t a lot of late-night (after 11 p.m.) dining options in the vicinity. We probably only have the few we do–and they’re mostly concentrated downtown–because of the college student population.
Our dearth of late-night restaurant selections is obviously a function of the city itself. We are not a city that never sleeps. Our bars close at 2 a.m. There is no dazzling array of neon lights and bright signs that perpetuate daytime like in Times Square.
I guess Madison is better off than other cities. For example, I lived in Evanston for a while, and your best bet to satisfy those evening cravings is Burger King, and even the city wanted that to be closed early.
If you use the “late-night” check box on the EAT page, you’ll see a list of places that serve food after normal dinner hours, but in most cases, it’s a reduced menu or limited to Friday/Saturday-only. So enjoy your wings, gyro or burrito, just don’t expect a ribeye, Chilean sea bass or rack of lamb to be available.