published Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Five midnight-craving-worthy dishes

Lamar's, located on M.L. King Blvd, specializes in fried chicken and shrimp dishes that are made to order by a kitchen that doesn't close until the wee hours. (Staff Photo by Joy Lukachick)
Lamar's, located on M.L. King Blvd, specializes in fried chicken and shrimp dishes that are made to order by a kitchen that doesn't close until the wee hours. (Staff Photo by Joy Lukachick)

’Round about midnight, you might feel your energy start to drop. If your fuel tank is running on empty, never fear. Here are several late-night snacking options that provide quick, cheap and delicious pick-me-ups.

* The porcupine roll ($7) is the best-selling menu item at Raw Sushi Bar and Nightclub (409 Market St.) for a reason. This sweetened-up variation of the already-tame California roll was designed from the ground up as an entry-level option for sushi neophytes. Thanks to being doused in eel and white sauces and topped with sweet tempura crumbles, the resulting roll is sticky and carb-heavy. That combination really hits the sweet spot on prolonged pub crawls, especially since Raw serves until 2 a.m.

* Ask almost anyone who’s strayed into the velvet cave of Lamar’s Restaurant (1018 E. M.L. King Blvd.) and they’ll tell you the sure-fire way to perk up your evening is with the golden fried chicken ($7.50). The crust is flaky without being too thick and is wrapped around succulent meat smack dab in the sweet spot between too dry and undercooked. A true midnight staple.

* The fried pickles ($4.95) are not only the namesake of the quirky Pickle Barrel (1012 Market St.). They’re also one of its most popular appetizers. The pickles are cut into spears and fried in an herb bread-crumb mix that is flavorful without being overwhelming. They arrive fresh from the fryer in a basket along with a serving of horseradish dill dipping sauce. Feel free to share them ... or not.

* Forget other knot-shaped baked goods. The soft pretzels ($2.50) at O’Heiney’s Pub (825 Houston St.) are the king of the doughy kingdom. This Polish-German-Irish pub brushes on a garlic butter mix before popping these babies into the pizza oven. They come out baked to a golden brown, lightly dusted with salt and delightfully chewy.

* Like all fried potato products, tater tots are undeniably delicious, but the tots ($5) at The Honest Pint (35 Patten Parkway) take this golden-crusted snacking staple to the next level. These piping hot nuggets of deliciousness are fried in duck fat (!) and arrive at your table in a cone sleeve accompanied by a trio of dipping sauces — smoked aioli, curried ketchup and Sriracha mayo. It’s likely the classiest you’ll ever feel while eating bar food.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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