From an inquisitive reader (edited for space):
My husband and I are theater and concert fans who prefer to dine after a performance. Some of the places we've sampled are really designed for late-night mating dances among 20- and 30-somethings. Can the Trib help?
Can the Trib help? Does Jay Cutler have a limp?
Quite a few places in town stay open long enough for a post-concert or post-theater meal, but remember that on a very slow night, some restaurants might be tempted to pack it in early. Always, always phone ahead.
Following are a few places that serve grown-up food (that is, more than a burger or a burrito) after the clock strikes 10 p.m.:
Bijan's Bistro. For close to 30 years, this River North restaurant and its wide-ranging menu have been the late-night diner's best friend. Open until 4 a.m. every day of the year. The full menu is available until midnight most days, 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and then the late-night menu takes over. (Locals swear by the steak and eggs, but the barbecued salmon is pretty good too.) 663 N. State St., 312-202-1904
Chicago Cut Steakhouse. One of the best steakhouses in the city also keeps ridiculously long hours, opening for breakfast at dawn and serving into the wee hours (1 a.m. at least) every night. 300 N. LaSalle St., 312-329-1800
County Barbecue. This new Taylor Street 'cue specialist closes at 10 p.m. during the week but will serve until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 1352 W. Taylor St., 312-929-2528
Epic. Upscale and busy steak-seafood-pasta restaurant serves until 11 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and until midnight Wednesday-Saturday. (Warning to my letter-writing inquirer: You'll like the upstairs dining room, but the street-level lounge will have a fair amount of that "late-night mating dance" action of which you spoke.) 112 W. Hubbard St., 312-222-4940
The Florentine. This fine-dining Italian spot in the Loop's JW Marriott Chicago hotel serves its lounge menu (veal meatballs, beef carpaccio, pizzas, BLT burger) until 11 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 151 W. Adams St., 312-660-8866
The Gage. This bustling Michigan Avenue gastro pub, across the street from Millennium Park and close to the Auditorium Theater and Symphony Center, keeps the kitchen going until 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday. 24 S. Michigan Ave., 312-372-4243
Howells & Hood. Thursday through Saturday, the kitchen stays open until 11, though you'd be well-advised to place an order by 10:45. If all you want is sip craft beers (114 on tap), you can do that until 2 a.m. 435 N. Michigan Ave., 312-262-5310
La Madia. The full menu at this pizza-and-light-bites restaurant is available until midnight six days a week (11 p.m. Sundays), and there's always a selection of $6-per-glass wines (selections change weekly). 59 W. Grand Ave., 312-329-0400
The Local Chicago. This all-American neighborhood spot issues last call about 1:30 a.m., a nice option for Streeterville residents and nearby hotel guests. Split a trio of prime-beef (seriously) sliders or go heartier with the excellent meatloaf. 198 E. Delaware Place, 312-280-8887.
Miller's Pub. Another mainstay of the night-crawling set, Miller's has been a decades-old go-to for late-night dining in the Loop. The something-for-everyone menu is highlighted by barbecued ribs (a signature), prime rib and steaks, but there's plenty more to contemplate. The beer menu is impressive. The kitchen is open until 2 a.m. most nights (midnight on Sunday), and the bar goes until 4 a.m. 134 S. Wabash Ave., 312-263-4988
Niu Japanese Fusion Lounge. Sushi, maki rolls and a handful of Japanese-fusion entrees are served at this spot, which is next door to the AMC movie theater (free appetizer with dinner purchase with an AMC ticket stub). This place does a ton of carryout and delivery business, so the softly lit dining room is never crowded. 332 E. Illinois St., 312-527-2888
Porkchop. Pork ribs, pork chops and pulled pork, along with fried chicken and burgers and even salads and catfish, are served late at this Randolph corridor hangout. The kitchen is open until at least 11:30 most nights, later on the weekend. 941 W. Randolph St., 312-733-9333
Purple Pig. Jimmy Bannos Jr. cranks out his Mediterranean-inspired small plates until midnight, 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. 500 N. Michigan Ave., 312-464-1744
Rebar. This upscale lounge in Trump Tower serves its high-end sushi menu (augmented by desserts from Sixteen pastry chef Patrick Fahy) until midnight Sunday-Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday-Saturday. 401 N. Wabash Ave., 312-588-8114
Roka Akor. Gorgeous decor and upscale (and priced accordingly) sushi, robata-grill items and high-end seafood and steaks. Open until 11 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, midnight Thursday-Saturday. 456 N. Clark St., 312-477-7652.
Takito Kitchen. Yes, the modern tacos (Alaskan king crab?) are the draws to this Wicker Park spot, but Takito launches its new late-night menu on Halloween (available 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday thereafter). Interesting small plates on the menu included the drowned pork belly torta, and polenta with cheddar, bacon and pickled chilies. 2013 W. Division St., 773-687-9620
Three Aces. The restaurant's wide-ranging American menu is available until 11 p.m., at which point the late-night menu takes over (11 p.m. to 1 a.m.), offering bar bites, burgers and pizzas. Which, given its proximity to the United Center, might be just what most people want. 1321 W. Taylor St., 312-243-1577
Tortoise Club. Even at 6 p.m., this sultry restaurant gives off a late-night vibe. Tortoise Club is open until 10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 350 N. State St., 312-755-1700
The Village. The uppermost dining room in the Italian Village trio of restaurants, which is just steps from the Bank of America Theater, keeps its kitchen going until midnight. 71 W. Monroe St., 312-332-7005
Zed 451. Known for its "harvest table" buffet and unlimited rodizio-style service (which generally are available until 10 p.m. most nights, 11 p.m. weekends), Zed also has a "cravings" lounge menu of small plates such as grilled prawns, chicken samosas, ceviche and barbecued ribs. And those are available until 11 p.m. most nights and 1 a.m. weekends. 739 N. Clark St., 312-266-6691