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New Orleans’ bars can stay open around the clock, which means you can rearrange your schedule to whatever suits your night-owl soul. And if you are partying during Mardi Gras, you will most likely be in need of some sustenance at unusual hours. But while the drinks keep flowing, most restaurants close at 10 pm. If you expect to experience an undeniable hunger sometime past midnight, it is a good idea to commit the following late-night eateries to memory.

Angeli – Lower Quarter
A late-night place is great when the food tastes as good sober as it does at 3 am. And the food at Angeli is wonderful no matter what time of day or night. Decked out with hipster art and patrons, the restaurant serves top-quality burger, pasta and pizza fare. Early music sets by solid live acts are a good way to start your evening, but bring cash as credit cards are not accepted.

Coop’s Place – Lower Quarter
Coop’s gets credit for maintaining high standards in the middle of the Quarter, where most restaurants are tourist traps. The rocked out, nearly authentic Cajun dive is a grotty and chaotic place, but it is worth it for the food: rabbit jambalaya, chicken with shrimp and tasso (in a cream sauce – there is no such thing as “too heavy” in New Orleans). It is rural, rustic and rich food served at an honest price.

Clover Grill – Lower Quarter
You do not have to be gay to eat at Clover Grill -- in fact, much of the clientele base is loyal, local straight folk -- but there is a big gay customer base thanks to nearby gay bars. Given that this place otherwise resembles a 1950s diner, it is a slightly surreal experience to witness a prima donna–ish argument between an out-of-makeup drag queen and a drunk club kid, likely set to blaring disco music. The food is not anything special, but it is open 24-hours-a-day, has dependable diner fare and is good for a hangover -- or those who can see the hangover approaching.

Alibi – Upper Quarter
Alibi is more bar than restaurant, but it is one of the better 24-hour joints in the Quarter. The grub is decidedly greasy, unhealthy and perfect after a long night of partying on Bourbon Street. Alibi largely does burgers, po’boys and fried foods, although salads are on the menu and, rumour has it, occasionally emerge from the kitchen.

The Avenue Pub – Lower Garden
When chefs get off work in New Orleans, plenty of them head to The Avenue Pub to sample one of its 100-plus beers and down some of its excellent fare: pub grub taken to a rarefied, yet never pretentious level. Try the seemingly simple cheeseburger;  the meat is good and expertly grilled, the cheese lovingly melted and the fries crisp. There are few more atmospheric ways to end your night then to roll into The Avenue, listen to some hard rock or hip hop with tattooed service industry folks and polish off whatever special is scrawled on their chalkboard.

Cooter Brown’s Tavern and Oyster Bar – Riverbend
Cooter’s is open until 1 am, does mean cheese fries, whips out a killer chilli cheese hotdog and has one of the best beer selections in the city. But the long, lingering romance with Mr C Brown is attributable to his oyster bar. The boys are shucked to order, plump and cold, and at $8 for a dozen, are an absolute steal.

Camellia Grill – Riverbend
It is rumoured that a woman once walked into Camellia and asked if the restaurant served low-fat dessert. The line cook’s response? To dip a slice of pecan pie in melted butter and throw it on the grill! The other great thing about this spot, besides its great diner burger-chilli-Reuben fare, is that it is the sort of place where the staff look like 50 Cent or The Ramones, and they all call each other – and you – “baby”. All the time. Plus, they dress in tux shirts and black bow-ties, as if this place could not be any wonderfully weirder.

Delachaise – Uptown
The winner of the wine-and-cheese war in New Orleans comes down to this spot versus the Bywater’s Bacchanal. We will not declare a victor, but Delachaise is a lot more suave and open a fair bit later. Plus, you will love its cheese menu with its cute pictograms explaining each cheese. The small plates are all wonderful in their own indulgent way, especially the ridiculously over-the-top grilled cheese sandwich. If you are looking for something more refined than a burger late at night, head here.

© 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Late-night eats in New Orleans’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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