Since the founding of Harvard back in the 1600s, college students have always frequented the open-til-two or the 24-hour restaurants, whether it was grog they were seeking or ramen, either as a study break or after a long night of partying at the generic frat house. Six hours of sleep and under has nothing on us, and our metabolisms still function at a rapid pace, so what's a couple thousand calories consumed at 3 a.m. to us?
So it makes sense that OC restaurants and cafés have extended their hours later and later in the past couple of years to serve the surrounding colleges and universities, especially those near UC Irvine, America's college capital of coed foodies. Restaurants with lit "We're Open" signs attract us like light attracts moths; slip in a $5 deal and we're sold. These 10 restaurants are what we animalistic Anteaters are currently hungering for.
10. Ippo Sushi (pictured above)
This Irvine-based sushi company is a delivery service rather than a restaurant, delivers exclusively to UCI students and doesn't open until 6 p.m.--when the average college student begins studying. From bowls to rolls--the healthy late night alternative--and requiring a minimum of $15, Ippo offers a great deal for you and your chemistry study group. And did I mention that the company was started by two UC graduates who've had their own share of cramming and procrastinating? Contact Ippo at www.ipposushi.com.
9. The Playground
Open until 2 a.m. on the weekends, staffed by a young, energetic bunch and run by chef-turned-cooking star Jason Quinn, this Santa Ana restaurant appeals to the UCI masses. With burgers of massive proportions and unique side dishes being released all the time, it's more than enough to hold a college student's attention--and appetite. While you're waiting for your meal you can play the Ms. Pacman machine in the corner. Modern and simple--just how we like it. 220 E. Fourth St., #102, Santa Ana, (714) 560-4444; www.playgrounddtsa.com.
8. Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles
When you're a student and living on your own, there's no one to tell you what time to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. At Roscoe's, breakfast time is all the time. The Long Beach location of the popular chain offers some of the best waffle-and-fried-chicken combinations you'll ever have, and good news: a new location is to be opened in Anaheim. Don't forget to take home some cornbread. www.roscoeschickenandwaffles.com
7. Guppy House
Nestled in the UCI student-friendly plaza known as Diamond Jamboree, Guppy House is known for its boba, shaved ice and their famous popcorn chicken, of which Edwin approves. If you're down for some midnight indulgence, spring for some brick toast. The toasted white bread in condensed milk comes drizzled in condensed milk, chocolate and any topping of your choice. Order a large and share with your friends for an energy boost to get you through the night. 2730 Alton Parkway, Ste. 101, Irvine, (562) 865-7288; www.myguppyteahouse.com.
6. BCD Tofu House
Located just a few doors down from Guppy House in Irvine, BCD Tofu House prides itself on being the only Diamond Jamboree restaurant offering 24-hour service, where it's not uncommon to wander in at 3 a.m. to see the place packed with UCI students chatting as if it were 3 p.m. While you're waiting, enjoy some panchan like kimchi and fried fish, and then get ready for the sound of your bubbling pot of tofu. Perfect for cold nights or when you're coming down with a cold. 2700 Alton Pkwy., Irvine, (949) 553-6465.
5. NORMS Restaurant
This LA-based, 24-hour all-American chain restaurant has over 18 locations in SoCal, over half of which are in the good 'ol OC. Since 1949 the restaurant has been known for their slogan "We Never Close," and to this day they've continued to uphold it, much to the delight of 18-22 year-olds everywhere who need a place to study while grub. If you're craving an early breakfast, try one of their original omelettes--I suggest the Melting Pot, which is just as loaded as it sounds. Located in all old-school OC cities.
4. Pho Thanh
While pho houses are gospel in Little Saigon, what makes Pho Thanh stand out among the rest is their 24-hour service. It's clean, it's quiet and your pho is brought out to you within five minutes of ordering, ready to be seasoned and consumed by food-and-sleep-deprived college students. Pho is one OC college trend that, like boba, doesn't seem to be in danger of going out of style. 9625 Bolsa Ave. Westminster, (714) 839-9882.
3. Harbor House Café
Friendly service that's not too overbearing? Prices that are friendly to our student loan-ravaged wallets? Portions that are enough to last the next day so we don't have to cook? Count us college students in. With just two locations--the closest one to UCI is in Dana Point--Harbor House has stayed original for over 65 years and doesn't show signs of stopping, especially with their diverse menu of burgers, Mexican food and stir fry dishes.
2. In-N-Out Burger
Every SoCal student's #1 on speed dial. Make it a party and buy over ten burgers for less than $20; that's one deal you can't get anywhere else. Hunt for their secret menu for additional options; my occasional study companion has been the animal-style fries. And best of all? Right across the street from UCI.
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The Mexican restaurant of all Mexican restaurants, at least for UCI student grub needs. Though this hole-in-the-wall restaurant is located in Lake Forest--a good 20-30-minute drive from Irvine--every time I go in the middle of the night I run into someone from school. It's a popular place to eat after a clubbing event because their portions are enough to fill any drunkie. Who cares that there was a murder in the parking lot some years ago, a fact that every other student seems to bring up? After trying this out, you'll want to be buried with your California burrito.