Just because you're eating late doesn't mean you can't be eating great.

Just because you're eating late doesn't mean you can't be eating great.

Tavern Olde Town

Food service until 1 a.m.

Beet burgers, handmade blueberry applesauce and grown-up quesadillas are served late night by candlelight (and to the peppy beats of Michael McDonald) at this Olde Towne East neighborhood hangout. While fried foods are conspicuously absent from the menu, there's still a little sin in this place. Try the Tavern Salad ($8) with a healthy tossing of olive oil, eggs, avocado and a crispy crown of bacon.

Hounddog's

Open 24 hours daily

The best pizza dive in Columbus is a rockin' and rollin' party parlor that howls all night, every night. An off-campus Buckeyeland classic for more than two decades, Hounddog's has the kind of genuinely off-center ambience other outfits try to fake. But along with hippy drippy murals, its walls contain lots of framed accolades touting its famous pizzas. Two crusts are available: thin-and-crispy, square-cut "Hounddog's" (with "three degrees" of spiciness) and puffier, pie-cut Smokin' Joes (with garlic butter and herbs). Both go great with Columbus Brewing Co.'s IPA ($4). Gloriously greasy pepperoni's a no-brainer ($12.50), but a favorite is the three-little-pigs-and-sauerkraut-topped Hot Mama ($18.25).

The Rossi

Food service until 1 a.m. (midnight on Sundays and Mondays)

This is your after-hours hookup for talented chef-cooked stuff in a suave-but-casual hotspot. So order a snazzy cocktail (like the just-sweet Metropolitan for $10), an Ohio draft or a good wine, and start snacking on house-made Burrata ($9). It's an impressive mound of creamy, almost foamy mozzarella crusted with sea salt, topped with fried leeks and sweetened by a balsamic-like saba. Or how about a trio of luscious chargrilled lamb lollipops ($14) used to mop up chive vinaigrette and wonderfully chunky bacon jam? Too fancy? Then target one of the city's best burgers with fries ($12) or real NYC-style pizzas ($15).

Press Grill

Food service until 1 a.m.

The "grill" part of "bar and grill" is not an afterthought for this Short North reliable. Quick service and enticing daily specials make up for the small number of seats. Stop by for Thanksgiving dinner Thursdays, complete with green bean casserole, or steak dinner Sundays, with a totally-worth-it-$10 rib eye and baked potato served with butter and sour cream. Not feeling the specials? The open-faced veggie sandwich ($7.50) and grilled chicken pesto sandwich ($8.50) are longtime favorites as well.

Thurman Cafe

Full menu until midnight, appetizers until 1 a.m.

The ever-present lines at this bar and burgery dissipate as it gets late. Simply slide into a booth and order oversized sandwiches. As morning hours approach, consider the famed Thurman Burger, whose toppings (ham, mushrooms, cheese and onions, to name a few) could be the makings of an omelet. Though the dinner menu has a curfew (midnight), a selection of deep-fried appetizers including jalapeno poppers, fried pickles and a golden stack of onion rings are available to eat beneath the countless stories scratched into the bar's woodwork.

Fitzy's Old Fashioned Diner

Open 24 hours daily

A larger-than-life wedding portrait of the original owners accompanies the sounds of Sunny 95 and sizzles at this North Side diner. Fitzy's serves a vast menu any time of day to bar-goers, brewery workers and breakfast lovers. Real mashed potatoes (with just the right amount of lumps to make them authentic) are served aside homemade meatloaf ($8.19) and covered in a river of glossy gravy in one popular favorite. The chili cheese fries ($6.29) are done right, too-they're the homemade kind, with the kidney beans just like mom used to make.

Pita Hut Grill

Food service until midnight

This next door neighbor to Bob's Bar (the self-proclaimed Cultural Hub of the Midwest) offers two rarities for late night eating-Mediterranean murals and that hard-to-find roughage often excluded from the traditional trifecta of drive-thru menus. Pita Hut serves up hearty gyros (complete with that hidden pickle that makes this cuisine so enjoyable) and a variety of vegetarian-friendly dishes: taboulleh, baba ghanoush and perfectly fried falafel. Sound a little too healthy? Order yours to go and enjoy it with a beer at Bob's.

Bakersfield

Food service until 1 a.m.

Named after a city famous for urban cowboys and raucous country music played in the key of electric twang, Bakersfield has a slick, movie-set-saloon look and the best cheap margaritas in town ($7). It's also got terrific Mexican food. Start with citrusy guacamole ($6) served with warm tortilla chips. Since Bakersfield's tacos rock-they arrive on house-made corn tortillas-tack on a Cochinita Pibil (spicy pork) for 3 bucks and a rare-around-here Huitlacoche taco (delicious corn fungus) for 4 bucks. Now, pull the trigger on Bakersfield's killer, best-bang-for-your-peso tortas in chicken cutlet (Milanesa, $8) or Short Rib form ($9).

Dirty Franks

Food service Downtown until 1:45 a.m.; West Side until midnight Friday and Saturday, 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 p.m. Sunday

You can't purchase more fun in a bun for less money than at these hot doggeries. Giggles commence with funky ambiences: retro-hip tavern atmospheres where local music and local beers rule, smile-generating paintings honor baseball players and '80s bands and neon-tinted slushies can be hooched up. Renowned Chicago faves Vienna Beef frankfurters come standard but can be replaced by good Polish sausages, brats or first-rate vegan weenies. Toppings run from obvious to outrageous-try the Cowgirl Carmen (with coney sauce, cheddar cheese and Fritos for $3) and the Whoa Nellie (brisket and barbecue sauce for $4.50). Bonus: Great $2 fries!

Lalibela

Food service until 1:30 a.m.

Looking for something kind of exotic to ignite your evening? Let friendly and terrific Lalibela come to the rescue. No one makes better Ethiopian food in Columbus, and certainly nobody serves it later. Sporting a lively bar-meets-social-club vibe and playing great African tunes, Lalibela's main dining area (in the rear) is tidy and quaint. Order some Ethiopian honey wine ($4; think sherry-spiked apple juice), then dial up Beyaynetu ($8). A crazy-cheap, feeds-three smorgasbord of stewy and delicious vegetables, it's served atop tangy injera (spongy fermented bread) and is even better eaten with "Lamb Dices," a tender-but-fiery Mediterranean-type stew ($10).