By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Mar 25, 2023 at 11:02 AM

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Bar culture varies around the world, from what folks drink to the customs they follow. But one of the most fascinating aspects are the dishes that people choose to eat after they indulge.

We’ve rounded up a collection of nine foods from around the world that folks use to soak up a night of sometimes questionable decisions, as well as where to find them in Milwaukee.

The list has but one caveat: As restaurants recover from the pandemic and staffing issues have forced abbreviated hours at venues around town, late night options have dwindled. So you won’t necessarily find all of these options available after bar time. Fortunately, they’re all options that taste just as great before midnight (or even earlier) as they do after 2 a.m.

1. Argentina: Empanadas

Empanada from Lola's Food Truck

Among Argentina’s most treasured dishes, empanadas are often a meal unto themselves. But thanks to street vendors, the traditional food has also become a popular anytime snack, including for local bar-goers. In Milwaukee, you’ll find South American empanadas at a variety of restaurants; but these locations feature Argentinian style empanadas more specifically.

Antigua Latin Inspired Kitchen / Lola's Food Truck
6207 W. National Ave, West Allis, (414) 321-5775
Serving: The Yolanda Empanada (beef with basil chimichurri)

401 E. Erie St., (414) 930-9088

Serving: Pork or beef with chimichurri

La Masa
1300 E. Brady St., (414) 885-1866
Serving: A variety of Argentine inspired empanadas

El Gaucho Grill
17800 W. Bluemound Rd., (262) 846-5445

Serving: Argentine beef with chimichurri

2. Canada: Poutine

Poutine from Drunken Cobra

What’s more delicious than crisp fries with gravy and squeaky cheese curds? We can thank the folks to the North for this remarkable indulgence that’s perfect after a few brews. The dish can be found at a wide range of spots around town, but here are a few for starters:

434 S. 2nd St., (414) 800-5641
7211 W. Greenfield, West Allis (414) 810-4838
Serving: Bar poutine with hand-cut fries, chorizo gravy, local curds

Drunken Cobra
6818 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 837-4997

Serving: Classic Red Dot recipe for poutine

Poutine Stop 
Paper Table Co., 733 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 395-0905

Serving: Eight distinctive poutine variations
Carry-out or delivery only

Three Lions Pub
4515 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood, (414) 763-6992
Serving: British chips, curds, house Guinness gravy

3. Germany:  Currywurst 

Currywurst at Von Trier

In Berlin, currywurst wins the day. But what is it? It’s sausage (usually smoked) that’s been cooked, fried and served with curry ketchup. Up until 2018, Berlin even had the  Deutsches Currywurst Museum, an entire museum dedicated to the sausage. We haven’t gone that far, but there are a number of places that offer up the oh-so-German dish. 

Old German Beer Hall
1009 N. Old World Third  St., (414) 226-2728
Serving: Currywurst with fries

The Vanguard
2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 539-3593
Serving: Berlin currywurst: pork and beef frankfuter with grilled onion, mayo, ketcup, curry dust; served over fries

Von Rothenburg Bier Stube
N116 W15863 Main St., Germantown, (262) 293-3098

Serving: Currywurst: smoked Hungarian bratwurst served over spaetzle and mixed vegetables and topped with curry tomato sauce

Von Trier
2235 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 272-1775

Serving: Currywurst: two fried Usinger's bratwurst, herbed spaetzel, apple kraut, pickled red onion, curry ketchup and haus mustard

4. Greece: Loukoumades

Loukoumades at Honey Butter Cafe

These light, airy Greek doughnuts (soaked in honey and often topped off with nuts and seeds) were traditionally eaten as fare for special occasions. While they can be eaten any time of the day, they’re a popular late night snack in Greece. We’re fortunate to have a couple of great spots to find them right here in the Cream City.

Honey Butter Cafe
7221 S. 76th St., Franklin, (414) 367-2800

Serving: Classic loukoumades (soaked in honey with cinnamon), plus flavors like Oreo, Nutella, milk caramel

Ouzo Cafe 
776 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 272-6896

Serving: Classic loukoumades: honey glazed with your choice of nuts (peanuts or cashews)

5. Japan: Ramen 


In Japan, ramen shops are open late to assuage late night drinkers. And there might be good reason for that. Two substances, alanine and glutamic acid, are both present (in the pork and noodles respectively) and are said to help break down the substances produced when your liver processes alcohol. Of course, we’d argue that a comforting bowl of ramen is delicious no matter when you choose to eat it.

Easy Tyger
1230 E. Brady St., (414) 226-6640
Serving: Tonkotsu, miso, shoyu, plus creative takes (gluten-free ramen also available)

Kawa Ramen & Sushi
2321 N. Murray Ave., (414)-800-7979
3rd Street Market Hall, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Serving: Tonkotsu and miso ramen on Murray Street location; paitan chicken ramen at 3rd Street Market Hall

Red Light Ramen
1749 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 837-5107
Serving: Tonkotsu, chicken paitan, miso ramen

6. Spain: Street Noodles

Street noodles
Street noodles at MOVIDA

You might not be able to get the street noodles from Zhou Yulong or "The Underground," the late-night hidden gem of a restaurant which once drew lines among local club-goers in Madrid, Spain before closing in 2019. But, you can find an homage to the delicious late-night fare right here in Milwaukee. Plus the bowl of delicious noods is far cheaper than a trip to Madrid. [Read more]

MOVIDA at Hotel Madrid
600 S. Sixth St., (414) 488-9146
Serving: Street noodles, other tapas

The Netherlands: Shawarma

Chicken shawarma at Lebnani House

These gorgeously tender strips of meat that have been roasted on a vertical rotisserie are famously found among street vendors and in small fast casual restaurants throughout the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam where global fare collides with international commerce. Get your fix at these local spots:

Lebnani House
5051 S. 27th St., (414) 488-8033 

Serving: Beef, chicken shawarma

Pita Palace
789 W. Layton Ave.. (414) 988-8100

Serving: Beef, chicken shawarma

2847 N. Oakland Ave., (414) 964-5475
Serving: Beef, chicken shawarma

Shawarma House
2921 N. Oakland Ave., (414) 967-1000
17385 W. Bluemound Rd., (262) 938-9300

Serving: Beef, chicken shawarma

8. Vietnam: Banh Mi

Banh mi
Lemongrass beef banh mi at Hue

This popular & fulfilling sandwich is often eaten for breakfast in Vietnam; but it’s also a popular late-night snack among the bar-hopping crowd. Get yours for lunch or dinner at these local establishments, including Mekong Cafe which serves up the equally delicious Lao variation on the sandwich, khao jee pate.

2699 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View, (414) 294- 0483

Serving: Lemongrass beef, lemongrass shrimp, chicken katsu, char xiu pork, veggie meat

Mekong  Cafe
5930 W. North Ave., (414) 257-2228
Serving: Khao jee pate (eight variations from ham roll and pork to veggie), their signature bahn mi burger

222 W. Wells St., (414) 817-0241

Serving: Eight banh mi variations, from pate and grilled pork to tofu and veggie

3835 N. 124th St., Brookfield, (262) 439-9149

Serving: Eight banh mi variations, from grilled beef or chicken to lemongrass tofu

9. The UK: Doner kebab

Doner kebab
Doner kebab at Wurst Bar

In the UK, post-pub options can vary; but stands offering up doner kebab are wildly popular, especially for the late night crowd. And it’s no wonder. The beautifully seasoned meat, which is traditionally cooked on a vertical rotisserie is popular across Europe and beyond for good reason. Get your fix at these local spots:

Centraal Grand Café and Tappery
2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 755-0378

Von Rothenburg Bier Stube 
N116 W15863 Main St., Germantown, (262) 293-3098

Serving: Beef and lamb

1239 E. Brady St., (414) 763-2180

Serving: chicken doner kebab, doner fries

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.