What is it about mediocre food that is so comforting after a late night of drinking, debauchery, and “I swear I’m cool, I’ve been drinking water for 20 minutes” driving? Maybe it’s just that our standards are lowered at this stage, and similar to ‘beer goggles’ (or as I like to call it “non-selective vision ”), we don’t require dignity from our meal. I mean, most of the food at these places is so boring it’s napping when you get it. We wouldn’t blink an eye at these places during the week since they have no “trend” factor related to them. Do you think you’ll have better lunch time scenery at Denny’s rather than Chipotle, Rubio’s, Jamba Juice, or Starbucks? Every had a craving for a ‘Super Bird’ when your completely sober on a Tuesday afternoon? If you answered yes, you’re over the age of 65, the ‘quiet’ guy in the complex, or live with 10 cats. Yes, God probably hates you as well
However, this establishment takes on a whole new life at 2:00 AM. You have your mix of club kids, bar folks, shady characters, and just plain weird people. Look around a Denny’s this late and you’ll most likely see a few scantily clad women (usually texting, laughing, and speaking in high pitched yelps), people passed out on tables (but awake when time to order or eat), various males trying to charm the ‘cute’ waitress (“So, can I be your grand slam?”), and a solitary older man/woman at the bar area drinking coffee (usually mumbling and laughing at random intervals). It’s like looking into a tank full of sea-monkeys, but actually seeing something alive and interesting.
The food itself is a mash-up of everything. You have your large mix of ‘Grand Slams’ which are the cornerstone to every drunken man/woman’s diet. Obnoxiously large burgers and sandwiches, which all come in various flavors of plain, plain, or plain. Hot wings, which I know of no one who craved to eat something hot while focusing on keeping $40 worth of drinks in their stomach. Questionable looking dinner items like steak, chicken fried steak, pork chops, and fried/grilled chicken (which all smell like real food, but taste closer to AM/PM then we probably want to admit). Standard drinks such as coffee, soda, tea are all helpful when it comes to rehydrating your liver, but the true ‘Nectar of the Gods’ is the strawberry lemonade. I don’t care if it’s just frozen strawberry puree dumped into regular lemonade, it’s daam near life-affirming when in a drunken haze.
In the end it’s really not about the food. It’s more about reminiscing over the night’s events and exaggerating to make them seem better, putting together elaborate stories/alibis together to tell girlfriends or significant others, and generally just enjoying time with the company you choose to keep. The food is just an edible wrapper to help finish the tale. Plus, you can’t beat burping up ‘Moon’s over my Hammy’ when waking at Noon on a Saturday or Sunday.
Note: For cool points try to order the no-longer on the menu, ‘Breakfast Dagwood Sandwich’. It’s a huge sandwich that was once described by a waitress as “Big as a baby’s head”. It will leave you in a meat/egg stupor when finished. Only a few places will still know how to make it, but if you’re lucky enough to have one, consider yourself that much closer to true enlightenment.