Scene’s favorite late night eateries

| Scene Staff

If you’re half-drunk or just seized by midnight munchies, the chef of a diner in the wee hours of the morning can seem worthy of Cordon Bleu honors. Even if you need to remain closer to campus, some of the grub available here can satisfy your gullet. When Scene needed a late-night bite over the weekend, here’s where we turned.

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House

To know the soul of a city, search not its monuments or museums. Instead, head for its greasy spoons and listen. At Uncle Bill’s Pancake House on South Kingshighway, a patron can witness the amazing vitality of St. Louis at night. All sorts of folks, from prom parties to crotchety construction workers to slightly stoned yuppies, convene and converse. The restaurant, a term used loosely here, is a true microcosm of St. Louis. I’ve overheard complaints about city ordinances, comparisons of marijuana strains and demands for “soggy, soggy eggs.” Especially recommended are the apple pancakes and the Hawaiian pancakes. The former consists of the filling of an apple pie piled en masse on enormous pancakes. Pineapples and a “Hawaiian syrup” top the latter. In either case, the patron will have six times the recommended daily intake of sugar and saturated fats. Uncle Bill’s is an experience not to be missed.

Ursa’s

If it’s midnight, let’s face it: anywhere off-campus is too far, no matter how delicious it may be. Fortunately, choosing to stay on-campus doesn’t involve much sacrifice for your taste buds. Ursa’s features an excellent gelato bar, frozen drink selection and a staff that can only be described as chill. Unfortunately, Ursa’s best late-night snack also seems to be annoyingly exclusive: crêpes are offered only on Fridays from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. Lines are known to be up to an hour long, as two slow-cooking, savory thin pancakes are often worth the wait. Bring your own Nutella, order with a side of vanilla ice cream, and the painful wait is very quickly forgotten.

Courtesy Diner

Cheap, delicious and just a little sketchy. What else do you need to know when it’s 3 a.m. and you have a craving for something greasy? Courtesy Diner is pretty standard when it comes to diners—dingy tile floors, waitresses with attitude and accepting of cash only. The place will likely be deserted upon arrival, save for other college students and the occasional regular, so expect a quiet dining experience. I recommend the grilled cheese—really nothing more than American cheese sandwiched between slices of Wonder Bread—and the unbelievably delicious, tender, melt-in-your-mouth pancakes, which are unlike any you’ve ever had before. Despite the sandwich’s simple ingredients, it appears that somewhere between cooking in butter and arriving on your plate, someone injects them with a little magic. As for the pancakes, they’re so sweet and perfect already that adding syrup just gilds the lily. Courtesy Diner is what would be classified as a “greasy spoon” restaurant—an establishment without pretensions and complete with hard booths, plastic-coated menus and a liberal approach to hygiene. The restaurant is nothing fancy, but the sweet pancakes are so good, and so reasonable at only $1.50 for one, that nothing else matters. Especially in your drunken stupor.

Bear’s Den

For those of us with a more dinosaurian appetite, make friends with the chefs at Bear’s Den grill. A good attitude often pays off with an extra-large helping of fries. If you’re lucky enough to have a Gold Plan, you can easily order one of everything off the menu without straining your budget. Meal points aren’t real money, right? Late at night, that sort of logic is completely valid. The correct pronunciation of the best late-night guilty pleasure here is “half-n-‘alf.” Golden brown breading surrounds moist and tender chicken, accompanied by crispy golden fries, usually taking less than 30 seconds to be placed into your hands. If you’re looking for a sponge to soak up all that liquid from tonight, look no further: a half-and-half boasts more than 100 percent of the daily value recommendation of sodium, and is guaranteed to get the job done.

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