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Night Hawks

Where to score the coveted midnight (or later) meal

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Whoever said that nothing good happens after midnight clearly needs to stay awake longer, and stay hungry. Taco Bell may have squatted on the "Fourth Meal" estate, but you'd do well to eschew the fast food and hunker down at one of the any number of joints, from fancy establishments to hole-in-the-wall nooks, that are slinging plates for the late-night sect.

Cleveland's come a long way since the days when the only viable options were The Big Egg (original, shady version), Denny's or your mom's kitchen. Here are just six of our favorite spots to score a late nosh.

Bar Cento

Chef Adam Lambert has perfected a menu of pizza, entrées and world-class frites that straddle the line between haute cuisine and comfortable cool. Cento stops serving entrées after midnight, but the pizzas and frites continue 'til close. In the mood for breakfast? I can't tell you how many times I've relied on their Sunnyside pizza -- with provolone, house-made pancetta, organic eggs and lots of black pepper -- to right the ship after a long night out. But why stop there? Their salume board (all house-cured) is a great substitute for breakfast meat and the Belgian-style frites sure beat the hell out of home fries.

The Big Egg

The west side's original late-night establishment closed and reopened and might not be the spectacle it once was, but it still offers a complete menu of breakfast favorites. Eggs any style, multiple breakfast meats and mountains of fried potatoes, all served with toast. It was the classic all-night diner back in the day, and it's trying to recapture the glory days: old-school, brightly lit, bare-bones and no frills. Nothing but the sounds of food sizzling on the griddle to distract from the grease. Sometimes you just want a classic.

Bogtrotter's Doorstep

Chef Nate Williams crafts mouth-watering sandwiches featuring house-prepared meats including turkey, roast beef and pork, all served on locally sourced crusty baguettes. Whether you call them subs, torpedoes, hoagies or big sloppy sammys, you'll probably call them irresistible. My favorite is the roast turkey, but the Porkopolis and philly are darned tasty as well. Whichever you choose, do yourself a favor: order yours "wet" (aus jus) and "with crunch," (crushed potato chips). Trust me.

Southside

Favorites include mozzarella moons, killer cucumber wasabi dressing (think ranch but a 100 times better and with a kick), duck pizza and chicken and waffles -- they've been serving it since before it became cool. A welcoming, unassuming little spot with surprisingly good food that makes you feel comfortable.

Steve's Lunch

Steve's is a venerable institution claiming it's only been closed once in the past 60 years -- when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Simply put, it's a greasy spoon -- with all that those two words impart. A favorite among some young OC chefs, truck drivers, hookers and anyone else craving one of their famous hotdogs anytime of the day or night, Steve's is the closest thing we have today to the people-watching spectacle that was the (Original) Big Egg. "Bare bones" might be a bit too luxurious for Steve's ambiance. Absolutely not for anyone who thinks they're above it all.

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