Green smoothies and nut-butter-topped oatmeal are fine in the morning. The lunch hour will always belong to healthy picks like salads and whole grain sandwiches. And sure, dinner could be good for you, too, if you go for some salmon, sweet potatoes, and kale.
But the midnight hour? Well, that belongs to one kind of food and one food only: junk food. Or more to the point, bar food. Bar food is salty and savory. It can be crispy and crunchy, or it can be cheesy and meaty, but it's always satisfying. It's just the thing when you and your friends are heading home from a night out but you don't want to go home just yet... at least not before stuffing your face. The best thing about eating this type of food at this time of night (or morning if we're getting technical) is that no one is going to judge you. Everyone is throwing caution (and calories) to the wind and really going for it.
This isn't the time to just order anything off the menu, though. This is the time to take your ordering very seriously and make it count. Here's an official ranking of 30 late-night snacks from the very worst to the very best.
30 Buffalo Cauliflower
Buffalo cauliflower? No. Just no. If you want buffalo flavor, order buffalo wings. Or a buffalo chicken sandwich. Or just about anything else.
It's crazy that a vegetable covered in buffalo sauce is even on a late-night snack menu at a bar, pub, or restaurant, right? We can honestly say that we don't want to be eating this. Sure, cauliflower is getting popular, and we get it, but this isn't unhealthy enough. We don't want veggies at this time of night. No, thank you.
29 Hummus And Veggies And Pita
We've got the same problem with this popular appetizer. Many pubs and bars have a few healthier options on the menu, and since many people love hummus and things to dip in it, they put that on the menu.
We're not going to eat sauce-covered, fried cauliflower at midnight (or any other time—let's be real), so we're definitely not going to eat hummus, veggies, and pita. We want junk food, and hummus doesn't qualify. It's confusing to think that anyone would ever order this at midnight.
28 Chicken Lettuce Wrap
Chicken lettuce wraps are often on menus, and they often include seasoned and spicy ground chicken with a few other ingredients in butter or Boston lettuce cups.
Chances are, we don't get as excited about them as we do other bar snacks, so we're not exactly super excited to go out and order them. There's really nothing special about them or any real redeeming factors, and while they're a source of protein, there are other delicious things to order (like a burger, for example).
27 Olives Or Nuts
There are often super tiny snacks on a menu at a pub or restaurant, and such tiny snacks include olives and nuts. Sometimes, these come together along with some other nibbles, and other times, they're separate menu items.
While we'd rather eat these things instead of a chicken lettuce wrap or hummus with vegetables, we're not rushing to eat olives and nuts around the midnight hour. We need something heartier and more satisfying for that late-night hunger. Honestly, does anyone order these?!
26 Spring Rolls
Spring rolls may be slightly better than some of the so-called healthy fare mentioned above. That being said, let's get honest here: if we order spring rolls from many late-night menus, they're going to be incredibly greasy.
And while we don't mind some greasy potato-based snacks or even some greasy meat (hey, it's almost midnight, and we've been out for a while, so we need sustenance), we don't want to eat grease-covered spring rolls. They're sitting at number 26 for this reason.
25 Potato Boats/Skins
Potato boats or skins should be amazing based on what they are: crispy potatoes filled with cheese and other toppings. And yet... well... they're just not that amazing.
The problem is that, often, when they arrive at the table, they don't even seem like any thought was put into them. They're underseasoned, don't have much flavor, or are full of too much grease to enjoy. Why not just go for some fries instead if you're craving potatoes? It really doesn't make a ton of sense to order potato skins.
Flatbread is basically pizza... and yet, it's never that amazing. Many places are pulling out all the stops in terms of flatbread creativity and going for pulled pork or curried chicken or all kinds of flavors.
While a flatbread is a carb with cheese and other toppings and therefore can't be that bad, it's usually something that tastes fairly bland or just isn't as satisfying as a slice of good old pizza. A flatbread wishes it was pizza, but it's a lesser version for sure. It'll do in a late-night pinch, but it's not something that we'd order over something else.
Quesadillas can be filled with chicken or meat, but they're always a cheesy delight.
They're sitting at number 23 on this list because chances are, they're going to be disappointing. Whether cold or with not enough filling inside, if we order these at most places, we're going to wonder why we didn't go for something else. While a better pick than anything mentioned above, they might not have enough flavor either and could have us wishing that they were seasoned better or a little spicier.
22 Spinach Artichoke Dip
There are people who go crazy for spinach artichoke dip. Those people will be happy to order it anytime, including late at night, and they'll happily indulge in this cheesy, salty dip along with any bread or dippers.
These people will swear that it deserves to be in the top five. The rest of us? Well, we're not so sure, and we think that dips aren't the best choice for a midnight snack. There are so many other things that we'd rather eat, especially if we're going for something high-calorie. This dip is better at a party or as a dinner appetizer.
21 Fried Chicken Sandwich
A fried chicken sandwich could be a solid late-night pick. It's savory, crunchy, and filling, and if it's spicy, then even better.
The reason why it's number 21 on this list and not closer to the top is that it might not always be worth ordering. Unless it's a really good pub that's more of a gastropub or it's a Southern restaurant, a fried chicken sandwich could be pretty lackluster. Whether greasy or the sandwich doesn't have enough chicken or the bread is cold or soggy, it might not be worth ordering at every establishment that has it on the menu.
Popcorn is a better movie snack than a late-night snack. There, we said it, and we think that even the biggest popcorn fans would agree with us.
Look, we wouldn't not eat the popcorn if it was sitting in front of us or if our friends ordered it. We definitely would. We're not against salty and buttery popped kernels of corn. But as far as late-night snacks go, this isn't our favorite or preferred option. While popcorn is absolutely more delicious than hummus or buffalo cauliflower, there are many other things that we want to be ordering.
If pirogies are done right, then we'll be happy to eat these at any time. They're dumplings that have fillings, and they're delicious. At the right restaurant, they're a better bet than a dip platter or even some popcorn.
But in general, pirogies aren't the best late-night food because chances are, they're not going to be very good. Not everyone can make these properly, so instead of ordering them at midnight and then being disappointed and scrambling to order something else before it's officially the early morning and the kitchen is about to close, let's just choose something else.
18 Chips And Guac
Here's the thing about ordering chips and guac from a late-night snack menu: this will only be a worthy snack if the chips are homemade.
Stale tortilla chips, along with guac that was premade or even storebought dip, can seriously ruin this duo. This will only be good if both are super fresh and made on the premises, and since that's not always going to be the case, this can be pretty hit or miss. That's why chips and guac sit at number 16 aka right around the middle. When fresh, though, this is an incredible crispy and creamy treat.
17 Tater Tots
Number 17 on this list is tater tots. While some people might say that they deserve to be in a top-five spot, they're not available in every bar or pub, and not everyone eats them on a regular (or even an infrequent) basis.
They are delicious, though, because they're deep-fried grated potato. And anything that's a fried potato-based snack, like chips and fries, is obviously awesome. If they were more readily available, then they would've won a higher spot. They're also number 17 because we might be thinking that if we want fried potato, let's just seat some chips or fries (or both... now there's an idea).
16 Fried Shrimp
Fried shrimp feel like a beach vacation. That's probably because they're on the menu of many tourist restaurants in places like Florida, and we've eaten them while on a trip with our family or some friends.
Fried shrimp is number 14 because they're sweet and salty, which foodies know is a great combination. They're a delicious meal along with some chips or fries and, hopefully, a pickle and side of coleslaw. Fried shrimp isn't our number one choice for a late-night bar snack, but they'd do in a pinch.
15 Fried Calamari
Fried calamari is a bit better than fried shrimp because it's generally a better bet to order off a bar or a pub menu. Fried calamari honestly doesn't taste fishy at all. It's just deep-fried batter with a hint of the sweet flavor of the calamari.
Some restaurants will cook these better than others, and nothing will compare to an authentic restaurant (or at least a place that specializes in this type of cuisine), but it's a decent bet that if you order these off of a late-night snack menu, they'll be fairly good.
14 Fish Tacos
Fish tacos are also fairly hit or miss, but they had to be on this list since we all love tacos. Tacos are having a real foodie moment, and it's hard to imagine that ending anytime soon.
Fish tacos are deep-fried, which means that they're exactly what we want to be ordering late at night. As far as bar snacks go, if they're good, they're exactly what we wanted, and we'll be happy. If they're a bit soggy and lackluster, we'll want to save the fish tacos for a more authentic restaurant. They're number 14 and just above the halfway point because it could go either way. But even if they're a bit disappointing, we might still like them.
13 Chicken Fingers
Who hates chicken fingers? Oh, that would be no one.
While chicken fingers might seem like a kid's meal (because, of course, little ones love the things), they're also a popular late-night bar snack. And they're usually pretty good. The reason why they're number 13 and didn't make it into the top 10 is that they can be pretty hit or miss. When they're good, they're deep-fried, golden perfection. When they're bad, they're greasy and make you wish you had ordered just about anything else.
12 Jalapeno Poppers
Jalapeno poppers are number 12 because, while they're generally too greasy to make it into the top ten or five, they're a beloved bar snack because of the grease.
They're the kind of thing that you order when you're really ignoring calories and any notion of eating healthy. You're really, really going for it, and you want grease and cheese and a salty flavor. You might regret eating this later because you might not feel too great, but at that moment, you're into it.
Samosas are simply good. They're fried and savory, and if they're on a bar or pub menu, we should order some.
Some are spicier than others, and it really depends on what the filling is. They could have lentils, peas, and/or potatoes. They're truly satisfying since they're full of so much flavor, and they more than earned the number 11 spot on this list. It's nice to eat something that's more flavorful than yet another fried and potato-based snack (no offense to potatoes, though).
Poutine is a beloved snack in Canada and is fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. The fun thing is that if these are on a bar or pub menu, they could have any number of extra toppings or ingredients.
For the most part, no matter what these fries are topped with, they're always going to be good. Poutine is hearty, greasy, and cheesy and, therefore, magical. It will always hit the comfort-food, junk-food spot, especially late at night.
9 Onion Rings
When we first tried an onion ring, we were probably a bit confused (but in the best possible way). When you bite into an onion ring, you get so many flavors. You get the sweetness from the onion (and that doesn't seem like it would happen, but it does), and you get the wonderful deep-fried crunch of the batter surrounding it.
Onion rings are some of the best late-night snacks around, and that's why they're number 9. There's rarely a time when a friend would ask if you want to order some and you'd say no. They're also great because they go well with any other snack.
What bad thing could anyone possibly say about the slider? It's a mini hamburger and, therefore, is the best. This is always going to be something that you want to eat at midnight since it's hearty and satisfying.
The cool thing about sliders is that depending on which pub or restaurant you're dining at, you could get something that's more on the classic side (such as a bacon cheeseburger slider) or more gourmet (with any number of toppings). Sliders are number eight on the list and are always a fun thing to order.
7 Fried Pickles
Many people go pretty crazy over fried pickles. They didn't make it into the top five because not everyone eats them regularly, and there are probably some people who've never even tried them (but they should definitely rectify that ASAP).
While not as classic or as beloved as other fried foods, such as... well... fries—but also onion rings and fried chicken—fried pickles deserve credit for being salty and savory and also a bit sweet. They're perfect to order when you're really craving salt... and if you love pickles, of course.
6 Homemade Potato Chips
If we're at a pub around the midnight hour and considering how to get our salty and crispy snack fix, we might look at the potato chips on the menu and think, "Can those really be good?" Don't get us wrong—we love any and all potato chips, but can't we just buy a bag of our favorite brand and flavor from our local supermarket? Do we really need to order them from a pub or restaurant?
Yes, we really do, and that's why homemade potato chips are number six on this list of bar foods. When someone makes his or her own potato chips, they're epic. They honestly taste like a potato with salt, and they're much better than anything we could buy.
5 Mozzarella Sticks
Now, we've arrived at the top five, and mozzarella sticks take the number five spot for a few different reasons.
First of all, these involve cheese. Do we have to go on? No, we didn't think so. Second of all, these are deep-fried and breaded, which means that they're an absolute must-order when it comes to late-night bar snacks. And, finally, if we put those two things together, we realize that mozzarella sticks are deep-fried cheese. Oh yes. This is food magic.
4 Buffalo Wings
Fourth on the list is buffalo wings, aka the best type of wings... or the only wings worth ordering. No offense to any other flavors (looking at you, honey ginger and barbecue) but these wings are hot, spicy, saucy, and satisfying.
We can't imagine a time when we wouldn't want to eat buffalo wings (yes, we would even eat them for breakfast), and so we can definitely imagine wanting to eat them late at night when hanging out with our friends. Let's get a few others because, no, we don't want to share.
3 Sweet Potato Fries
When we need something salty and crispy and we spot sweet potato fries on a menu, we're going to order them. These are a super beloved bar snack, and they have so many amazing things going for them.
They're sweeter than regular fries—which can be welcome—and they're often served with a side of a super spicy chipotle mayo. Chances are, this is the best mayo that we've ever tasted, and we're going to wonder if it's okay to ask for more than we're given. Dipping the sweet, salty, crunchy fries in this delightful mayo is bar foodie heaven.
2 Regular Fries
You knew this one was coming, right?! Oh yes. No matter how much we love sweet potato fries (and we really, really do), we could never say that they can replace our beloved fries.
People might say that even bad pizza is still pretty delicious, but we don't know about that. What we do know is that even bad fries are still amazing. They're still something that we want to eat, and we'll still polish off the entire thing. Hopefully, the bar or pub that we're at late at night makes good fries, though, because there's nothing like a massive plate of crispy, salty perfect fries.
Here we are at the number one spot for the best bar food. Out of every late-night snack imaginable, we had to give it to nachos.
It just doesn't get more delicious and addictive than nachos—crunchy corn chips covered in melted cheese and any number of toppings (tomato, lettuce, jalapeno, olives, and maybe, beef or chicken). Oh yes. We'll be ordering these whenever we can. While nachos are good at lunch or dinner, there's something special and extra-delicious about stuffing our faces with them at midnight. The other late-night snacks can't hold a corn chip to these.