Five Late Night Wings, Tacos and Breakfasts Eats In the East Bay

A delicious taco from Tacos El Autlense (@casadekei/Instagram)

We’ve all been there. We’ve been with someone who was so hungry and impatient that they demanded, loudly, that food be thrown into their gob instantaneously. Whether you’re coming from the club, a gathering, getting off that late night shift or just want to get outside for a while, we’ve got you covered. While some of these late night spots might already be your go-to destinations for all things soak-up-the-booze, maybe you’re just someone who loves to patronize eateries while the rest of the world sleeps.

Sam’s Quarter Pound Burgers

18401 Hesperian Blvd
San Lorenzo, CA
94580

The Drive-thru at Sam’s Quarter Pound Burger (Jerry Wong via Facebook)

There used to be nine locations throughout the SF Bay Area, but now you can only find Sam’s Burgers in San Lorenzo and San Leandro. There’s hardly any information online about these two locations. When I discovered a website for Sam’s, I reached out to the webmaster inquiring about more information. Even he didn’t know anything, “...when I did try to look them up, I never had any luck finding any contact information for them either.”

With a little bit of dig, I found a business listing stating that both locations are currently up for sale as turn-keys. “Sam's Super Burgers No. 1 has been operating in this same location since the 1960s. The present owner has been operating the business since 2001.” These locations are incredibly convenient to two types of people: those who begrudge stripping themselves of their pajamas in order to acquire late night munchies and those who would like an alternative to corporate fast food chains. The menu is extremely limited, with only 11 options plus beverages. But, I guess it makes it easier for you to focus on what you want to order. Indulge yourself in one of their cheeseburgers, cheese fries, milkshakes and  a corn dog — they’re one of the few spots left making their corn dogs in house!

Tacos El Autlense

601 San Pablo Ave
Albany, CA
94706

Rodrigo and Enedina Anguiano, owners of Tacos El Autlense (Jeremy Brooks)

Tacos El Autlense’s Facebook claims, “The best tacos this side of International Blvd” and I’m in no position to argue that. When the atheists are lining up to receive a side of “porque nada es imposible para dios” (because nothing is impossible with god) with their tacos, you know the food is otherworldly.

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The truck used to be situated in Richmond, Ca, but moved to their current location in 2010 when the Hotsy Totsy bar asked them to fill a void. Before these tacos, Autlán de Navarro’s only claim to fame, known to me, was birthing Carlos Santana. The tacos brought the truck its second claim to fame: an Instagram photo showing that Alexis Ohanian brought Serena Williams there to chomp down! The truck is open late every day of the week to provide a much needed sponge of flavor to those stumbling out of the bar that the truck shares a parking lot with. This is also one of the only trucks to use yellow corn tortillas (it’s a bigger deal than you think).

Nikko’s Family Restaurant

340 23rd Ave
Oakland, CA
94606

Located in the middle of an incredibly busy and circular intersection, Nikko’s opened its doors in 1956. They’ve been serving the East Oakland community for 24 hours a day for over 60 years. That’s a lot of french fries. As one of two 24 hour non-chain restaurants in the entire East Bay (the other being 1/4 Lb Big Burger in Martinez), you get a parking lot, a chill environment and affordable prices. You’ll often find an interesting intersection of late night constituents from Oakland and Alameda, since the restaurant sits right at the entrance (or exit) of the Park Street bridge.

You’ll also find your model diner with a veneer counter and stools facing the kitchen. There’s several booths with vinyl seats. It’s best to leave any fresh leafy greens out of the equation for fear of disappointment —stick to things like their patty melts. Even better, try The San Franciscan: a beef patty on butter griddled sourdough bread slices with Swiss cheese and fried onions.

Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe

4081 Hollis St
Emeryville, CA 94608

Although the Oakland branch of Rudy’s shuttered its doors in 2018, this Rudy’s seems to be undefeated as the Emeryville go-to during all hours of the night and day. Don’t even think about coming here on the weekends without standing in giant lines! There are some fun trivia facts about Rudy’s people will always tell you: first, the restaurant was named after the 1979 song Rudie Can't Fail by The Clash and second, co-owner Mike Dirnt, the Berkeley-born bassist for the band Green Day, help to establish the original Rudy's in 2002.

Rudy’s extensive menu reminds you that not everything you eat late at night has to be soaked in grease. They offer some solid healthy options like grilled chicken salads and club sandwiches. But, make no mistake, you can still find those Americana classics: patty melts, fried chicken dinners and pie!

Monkey King Pub & Grub

1315 Park St
Alameda, CA 94501

It seems like Alameda shuts down early. With its popular bars like Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge (seen on HBO’s Silicon Valley) and Lucky 13, patrons are bound to be on the lookout for some grub come last call. Opened in 2012, Monkey King Pub & Grub does the job with hours going as late as 2am. They’ll even deliver during all of their opening hours.

Monkey King Pub & Grub doesn’t seem to have any stand out dishes because it’s all so good! Their dried fried ribs seem to be just as popular as their jambalaya fried rice (add optional runny yolk), jambalaya noodles, garlic noodles and chicken wings. But, one of their more unique offerings are Disco Fries which are a uniquely New Jersey creation and can be seen on a lot of East Coast diner menus.

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If you happen to be around during regular humanoid hours, you can also visit their Monkey King at the Brewery, which has some different food options than the pub.

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