Downtown Late at Night? Hope You're Not Hungry.

This is a repost from over here on my blog that KandN and I thought might spark a good conversation. What do you have to say about late night eats in downtown Salem?

You know what's missing in downtown Salem? Well, okay, I know a lot of you will come up with a laundry list as soon as you read that question. But really. You know what is seriously missing? Late night food options. The only thing you can find downtown after about 10 PM is greasy bar food from the fryer.

Now, I have nothing against greasy bar food once in awhile, but sometimes I'd like some other options.

I was downtown with a friend last Friday night and we had a couple drinks and then decided we needed some food. We searched the streets and bars of Salem for someplace with a decent late night menu. Even a sandwich or nachos would have made us happy, but everywhere we went, they told us the kitchen was closed down except for the fryer.

Very frustrating indeed.

I know La Perla is sometimes open late, but by the time we thought of that it was just before closing. We also did not check The Brick, but perhaps someone knows if they have a decent late-night menu.

You know what we really need downtown? Late night food vehicles! I'd like a grilled cheese cart and a nacho cart, please. And perhaps a good BBQ cart would be nice as well.


jeff said...

I was told that several years ago The Brick had some of the best hamburgers going.

You might just have missed something.

Anonymous said...

I think the main reason you can't find food late at night in Salem is because the clientele doesn't support it. Why should a restaurant keep the kitchen open and pay staff when there is no calling for it? Salem in general rolls up the sidewalks at 8-9 p.m. Drive thru town past 8 p.m. on any given night and you might see tumbleweed in the streets!
I know Jonathan's and Venti's serve past 10 on weekends and what about La Capitale, Bentley's, Best Little Roadhouse, Brown's Towne Lounge, Boon's Treasury,McMenamins, & The Half Penny Bar and Grill?

Rebekah said...

I will have to try the Brick I guess, although I haven't had great late night experiences (due to the patrons, not the restaurant) there in the past.

We tried Jonathan's and La Cap - by 10:30 they were getting ready to close down. We didn't try Bentley's because every other time I've tried to go past 10 it was starting to roll up the carpets. Best Little Roadhouse, Half Penny, McMenamin's (I assume you mean Thompson's)- may have good late night food, but not within walking distance of downtown. Brown's Towne - we had actually been there earlier, so we didn't go back. I will have to hit them up next time and check to see if they have more than tots available late night. :)

I do understand that downtown is a little on the quiet side at night. Both my friend and I live downtown, so we see how dead it gets. It would be hard for a kitchen to support that I'm sure. Pete's Place used to do a good late night breakfast menu, but quit. I'm sure they stopped because they couldn't support it. That's why I'm proposing little food carts.

How about just one of those taco trucks that hangs out in other parts of Salem? Maybe one of them would come downtown on weekend nights! I would love that option!

AMY said...

Just a few nights ago a friend and I hung out and worked a bit at some cafes with wi-fi hotspots. That ended at 9 when the Beanery kicked us out, and that left us to spend the next 2.5 hours in the car talking. We both were craving Thai. If some place serving Thai had been open, they would have had at least two customers. :)

I don't believe we can necessarily have a happy world where you can get EVERYTHING you want at ANY hour... but coming from a college town I can say I miss the ability to get many things at any hour of the day.

Anonymous said...

Brown's will typically move to fryer only about 10 or 11 on Friday or Saturdays, but it seems to depend on how busy it is. Like the other poster stated, it isn't efficient to keep a cook in the kitchen if it doesn't constantly pay for itself. Same deal with food carts, not enough business downtown.

Until there are more people out in the evenings it doesn't make sense. Which means we need to develop a more welcoming nightlife.

Anonymous said...

I hate late night muchos gracias runs but I do it multiple times a week because nothing else is really open from 11 - 3am... it's really gross!

Anonymous said...

but which needs to happen first? Food? Or people?
People aren't going to start showing up, if there isn't any food late at night.

Anonymous said...

If there were that big of a need/call for late night "dining" in downtown Salem it would have happened by now. There just isn't enough business to support it- period. If you want more dinning options you need to live in a bigger city like Portland. I lived in NYC for 10 years. Now, there you have a lot of late night options because it is a very cultural and populated city that can support the need.

Anonymous said...

What needs to come first is culture such as plays, events, etc. Not just nightlife such as bars, clubs, etc. The food would follow if there were people out and about attending such events. Just my 2 cents...

KandN said...

So it's a good thing we have places like The Elsinore, The Grand Theater, The Capitol Theater, The Pentacle Theater, 5 movie theaters and Prudence Uncorked doing their dinner theater. Sounds like a great start.

Anonymous said...

Do The Elsinore, The Grand Theater, The Capitol Theater, The Pentacle Theater, 5 movie theaters and Prudence Uncorked doing their dinner theater gather large regular crowds? Do any of the readers here ever attend regularly? I have to admit I have never attended anything at any of these venues. Usually the performance doesn't interest me. As for the movies, there isn't anything worth paying $10 per person to see anymore. Movies suck these days. Even IF a person were to attend any of these venues and then search for late night eats, by the time you pay for tickets who can afford dinner too in this economy? Our family of 3 went to the movies recently, it set us back 50 bucks and the movie sucked!

Anonymous said...

Looking at the Grand Theater website it looks like they do mostly wedding receptions. The Elsinore and The Pentacle Theater venues look like they are geared toward an older crowd w/ only one of the two doing shows every weekend. In 1994, the Capitol Theater was included in a plan to restore the neighboring Elsinore Theater that never materialized. The Capitol Theater was demolished in May/June 2000 because of structural decay. The location is now a parking lot, however, the adjoining office and retail space remains.

KandN said...

Anon, I'll try to answer both of your comments with one. N & I have been to many well attended events around town. Last night, The Elsinore was nearly packed. The Pentacle Theater sold out of tickets to every performance to The Fiddler on the Roof. We've watched some great movies, the last one on Sunday evening at Salem Cinema. I apologize, I meant to say Capitol City Theater--it's downstairs in the Reed Opera House.
I'm glad Salemites cared enough to raise money for the 3 phases of the Elsinore's restoration. That's too bad you've had so many bad experiences. I hope you don't give up. If this nice weather continues, I'm looking forward to an evening stroll around town to enjoy the lights. Somethings are still free to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

At least on weekends, Venti's is open late late, and in the bar you can still order food. And its DELICIOUS :)

Recently (weekend night) we were at the Brick and ordered sandwiches and nachos around 11, so I assume their entire menu can be ordered from late. It was quite noisy and obnoxious in there, though, like you said. Not my choice.

And I dont know about recently but Willamette Noodle Co used to be open pretty late weekend nights with food offerings.

Guess weekday nights are where it really gets tough huh.


Rebekah said...

Okay, I appreciate all of the comments here. But seriously? There's nothing going on that we would want to attend in downtown Salem? I should move to New York or Portland if I want late night food? A couple of years ago that's what people were saying about any decent fine dining establishments in Salem too, "Move if you want good food." Now we have great options like La Capitale making great food and well supported by the fine people of Salem.

All I can say is that I would rather stay in Salem and see it grow and develop rather than run to the big city to find what I want.

In addition, did you know that the downtown area is home to over 800 residents? Yes, more than 800 people call downtown home. What I have noticed about these people is that many of them are young, single professionals, OR in other words, people who stay out late and have money to spend. :)

Granted, Salem isn't a big city with tons of nightlife. I understand. Completely. That doesn't mean we can't grow and expand and become a little more cultured and grown up as the small city we are. I am hoping that as the city changes its noise ordinance, it will create a new entertainment district so more business can grow in our city's core. As more business comes downtown, more people will hopefully come too. And perhaps THEN we will get better late night food options. :) But I'm willing to support them before that, in case any entrepreneurs are reading.

Thanks for all the other suggestions for late night dining. Most of them close the kitchens by 10 or so, but perhaps the Brick will have to be my late night dining spot after all.

jeff said...

I dunno - when I needed late night food I knew that being choosy, no matter where I was, wasn't in the cards.

Denny's and Shari's exist for a reason.