I'm not one to miss a meal. Around midday and dusk, like clockwork, you can pretty much guarantee that I'll be at a table somewhere, fork in hand. But I know that everyone else's eating schedules aren't quite so predictable—and that finding food at regular intervals might not always be your first priority. For those of you who put off dinner until late at night or are fans of light-night snacks, sleepy San Diego's options are few, but there are some spots kind enough to keep their kitchens going long into the night, and sometimes the early morning.
Of all available options for a proper, sit-down late-night meal, Starlite is my favorite. The crowd along the upstairs patio bar can get three or four bodies-deep on weekends, but downstairs, tucked into the room's four corners, are cozier tables where it's possible to have a more relaxed dinner. Even better are weeknights, when the kitchen and the bar are less taxed and you can linger over a cocktail and a well-prepared burger, a plate of house-made meats and pickles or a mixed fry of what's seasonal and fresh. The kitchen stays open until midnight every day, but an abridged menu is served after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. 3175 India St. in Middletown, 619-358-9766.
There are better Korean restaurants along the Convoy Street corridor but few where you can karaoke before, during or after your meal. Min Sok Chon's menu fulfills late-night spicy and starchy cravings with kimchi tofu stew, spicy chicken wings and stone-pot bibimbap, a rice dish that, when cooked properly, has a delicious crispy-rice bottom. The dining area is filled with folksy, lantern-lit wooden booths, but steps away are modernly equipped private karaoke rooms where you can sing, and eat, until 2 a.m. 4620 Convoy St. in Kearny Mesa, 858-560-8168.
It's a place made for epic dates, ones when smart conversation comes easy and the last thing you want to do is interrupt the flow by having to move to a noisy bar when you've shut down a restaurant. The 3rd Corner is in your corner, serving food until 1 a.m., so you and your date can get to know each other better over plates of baked goat cheese, mussels in a white wine sauce and chocolate-chip bread pudding. The adjacent wine shop is a self-serve deal; you just fetch another bottle when you're done with the first, or the second. It stays open even later, 'til 1:30 a.m., if you want to grab yourselves another bottle as you're walking out the door. 2265 Bacon St. in Ocean Beach, 619-223-2700; 897 S. Coast Hwy. in Encinitas, 760-942-2104.
If you're taking in a late dinner, you might not want to eat anything too heavy, so the skewered snacks at Yakitori Yakyudori are perfect for getting satisfaction within a few bites. The restaurant is open only Wednesday through Sunday, but it stays open until 1 a.m. and the menu is tastier than other late-night Asian options nearby (I'm looking at you, Hong Kong!). There are tasty specials like crackly crusted cubes of silken tofu or heads of fried garlic and skewers of meats and vegetables that get extra flavor from the smoking charcoal. Save room for a little before-bedtime ice cream—the black sesame flavor is amazing. 3739 6th Ave. in Hillcrest, 619-692-4189.
OK, sometimes you're already home when you get the munchies and don't feel like putting on real clothes. For lazy late-nighters, Super Sergio's is one of the top drive-through Mexican joints, with good renditions of all your taco-shop favorites, including an addictive hot sauce and nachos topped with pollo asada. They cook until 3 in the morning and reopen again at 6 a.m. 4125 Convoy St. in Kearny Mesa, 858-560-6902.Write to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.