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Landing a late-night food fix

JOSH FIELDS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
A patron sits down for lunch at Grill, 100 E. Congress St. Grill is open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
By Laura Wilson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
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What happens when hunger strikes after 10 p.m.? Are dining options limited to entrees that can be super-sized, or is there a better way to fill your body with greasy goodies? Despite the prime location and state-of-the-art equipment of the Rec center, most UA students will pack on a few pounds before graduation. It's not uncommon to hear tales of woe relating to the dreaded "Freshman 15." Despite the body-morphing side effects, late-night eating is an essential part of the college experience. So, where can you go to satisfy your nocturnal needs?

Grill - 100 E. Congress St., 623-7621

If you've never been to Grill, you're missing out on one of Tucson's finest diners. A downtown staple since the 1920s, Grill is everything a late-night restaurant should be. Busiest when the bars close, Grill is open 24 hours a day, making it one of the best places to go when you feel the need to stuff your face while taking a study break.

Offering everything from bagels and cream cheese to steak and mashed potatoes, the menu at Grill is versatile enough to please almost everyone. Even the pickiest of eaters would have a hard time turning down the crisp-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside tater tots. Whether you prefer ketchup or mustard for dipping, these little pieces of fried heaven make a mighty fine midnight snack. If traditional diner food is what you're in the mood for, the grilled cheese sandwich features more than a mouthful of delicious melted cheese, and the tuna melt is out of this world.

Avoiding the 2 a.m. rush is the best way to make sure that you'll find a seat in one of the red vinyl booths that line the walls or at the old-fashioned counter. If you prefer the smoking section, you might have a harder time finding a table at any time of day.

Los Betos - 32 N. Campbell Ave. and 914 E. Speedway Blvd.

If Los Betos opened a restaurant in the Student Union Memorial Center, almost every student would instantly gain 30 pounds. Between the melted cheese, sour cream and fried everything, every delicious item the Los Betos' menu has to offer is extremely unhealthy and irresistible to the taste buds.

Although there are at least a dozen locations around town, there are only two within reasonable walking distance of the university. Both are open 24 hours, but only the Campbell location has a drive-thru. Waiting time peaks after the bars close around 2 a.m., but is never excessive. The Speedway location offers several pinball machines to help pass the time while waiting for your tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas and other Mexican-food staples.

A local favorite, the California burrito, features meat, cheese and potatoes wrapped in an extra-large tortilla. Unless you haven't eaten all day, you may want to split it with a friend. Add a side of super nachos (tortilla chips, meat, sour cream, guacamole cheese, pico de gallo and sometimes refried beans, depending on the location) and you and your buddy will definitely be full of good food before drifting off to dreamland. If meat just isn't your thing, the veggie burrito is a work of art, made with rice, beans, guacamole and cheese.

The prices at Los Betos are low enough to keep you coming back for more, even if your waistband keeps expanding.

Jimmy John's - 749 N. Park Ave., 206-9999

If all that greasy diner food or greasy Mexican food gets to you, there is a healthier, or at least substantially less greasy, option nearby. Jimmy John's, on Park Avenue near University Boulevard, advertises itself as the home of "free smells," but once inside you'll find that the eats, which do cost money, are equally pleasing.

While it's not open 24 hours (open until 3 a.m. daily), its location makes it ideal for late-night snacking or study session meals. Offering gourmet subs like the Vito (Genoa salami, capicola, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions and vinaigrette) on its homemade, fresh-baked French bread at reasonable prices ($3.50-$4.50), Jimmy John's is a pleasant addition to your late-night menu when you just can't stomach another Carne Asada burrito.

Aside from subs, Jimmy John's also offers healthier sandwiches in its "Giant Gourmet Club" section of the menu. The fancy-sounding snacks, including the Gourmet Veggie Club (double provolone, avocado spread, cucumber, sprouts, lettuce, tomato and mayo), are also large enough to satisfy even the biggest appetites. Again, the prices for such classy-sounding sandwiches ($5.50) are more manageable than any busy social life.

Something Sweet Dessert Lounge - 5319 E. Speedway Blvd., 881-7735

To top things off, what's better than having a little dessert? Because everything on the menu is sinfully delicious, this place should be illegal, but just to tempt us even more into stopping by, it stays open rather late. Plus, there are several board games, playing cards and other activities.

Something Sweet is open Sunday - Thursday, 3 p.m. - 12 a.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. - 2 a.m.

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