(Rendering courtesy University of Chicago News Office; photo courtesy Clarke’s)

Oh my, fries!

Clarke’s diner satisfies students’ hunger all night long.

In my first two years at UChicago, some of my friends and I thought that the best way to get all of our work done was to pull all-nighters together. Predictably, most of the work didn’t really get started until around 4 a.m., by which time we would stay awake a few more hours, just waiting for Bartlett to open with pancakes and eggs.

By now, most of us have realized that all-nighters are not a fun (or group) activity. Nevertheless, the arrival of Clarke’s 24-hour diner in Hyde Park two blocks from my apartment has revived my desire for late-night breakfast. Hyde Park has always had very few late-night dining options, and being a college neighborhood, it’s long overdue.

Last weekend, my friends and I were hanging out until the wee hours of Sunday morning, and someone suggested we go. I was instantly drooling. I had been there for dinner two nights prior, but the Clarke’s experience is really intended for late-night-early-morning consumption.

At dinner earlier that week, a waitress said that although the first days had been packed, around 2 a.m. things slowed down. She expected that to change when the weekend came.

The first weekend didn’t. The clientele at 4 a.m. was just a few pleasant college students and a few older gentlemen; no wait for a table, no wait for food (the next weekend, however, we waited an hour and a half for our food; by that time we almost gave up—our need to sleep far outweighed our need to eat). One friend was disappointed about the slow night; he said that on a college campus he wanted to be entertained by a ruckus. “There should be people throwing up all over the aisles,” he said. I, for one, was perfectly happy not eating in a frat house.

But, the servers are so friendly, and they wear shirts that say “Oh my, you should eat!” so we took their suggestion and ordered as much as possible. The Greek fries with feta are glorious, the omelets will feed you for a week, and the milkshakes are divine. They’re still working out some kinks, but it came out in our favor. They delivered our quesadilla with a few wrong ingredients, so we got a free one, plus a free hot chocolate.

Due to my abysmal domestic skills—and my constant cravings for omelets well past 1 a.m.—Clarke’s is the best culinary experience I’ve had in ages. One tip: ask for a mixture of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream for your shake. But don’t let anyone else taste it, you’ll definitely want the whole thing.