Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Midnight munchies: Reviewing four local late-night eateries

Kensie Pao
AFTER-DARK DELICACIES — Various groups dine late at night inside an In-N-Out location, a chain restaurant specializing in burgers and other American-style food. Palo Alto High School junior Addison Pettyjohn dines there often. “I think it’s fun for after games,” Pettyjohn said. “The food is really cheap and…it’s [In-N-Out] not like Town and Country where it’s like $15 for a meal.”

After a long day of classes, extracurriculars and homework, a late-night indulgence with friends is just what’s needed to regain a high schooler’s energy. When the final assignment gets turned in and the sun has long set, what better way to treat yourself than with a cheesy slice of pizza or a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie? The Bay Area is home to many eateries that keep their doors open late into the night and can satisfy the midnight cravings of the surrounding community. Verde reviewed a few of the best late-night restaurants in the area.

In-N-Out: 4.5/5

A California staple located on the side of the US-101 highway, In-N-Out closes at 1 a.m. on weekdays and 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Known for providing cheap yet tasty American-style burgers and fries, the dining experience lives up to the restaurant’s reputation. We ordered the hamburger ($3.15), a small soft drink ($1.95) and Animal-Style fries ($4.25), a popular secret menu item. For its shockingly low price, the burger was satisfactory. The standout item was undoubtedly the Animal-Style fries. Smothered in melted cheese, grilled onions and the In-N-Out sauce, they make the perfect comfort food. The diner environment was also lively, despite the late night hours. The drive-thru option also adds to the restaurant’s appeal, earning In-N-Out a high overall rating.

The Melt: 4.5/5

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Nestled on the edge of Stanford Shopping Mall, The Melt serves classic American-style cuisine, such as grilled cheese and shakes. It closes at 3 a.m. every day, the latest hours on our list. We ordered the Italian Job grilled cheese sandwich ($10.99) and Tomato Soup ($5.99), with a Mini Mac ($5.99) on the side, and were pleasantly surprised. The grilled cheese was crispy, with the melted cheese and mushroom combining in a harmony of textures. It was best dipped in the creamy tomato soup, which had just the right amount of umami flavor. The mac and cheese (Mini Mac), on the other hand, was subpar with its small portion size and cheese that cooled too quickly, with the macaroni sticking stiffly together. The Melt’s nonchalant environment cemented the 4.5/5 rating. The young crowd, combined with the dim lighting and pop music, locked in the casual atmosphere, making it perfect for late-night conversation.

Pizza My Heart: 5/5

Located in the heart of downtown Palo Alto, Pizza My Heart serves classic California-style slices until midnight every day of the week. The atmosphere was booming as customers filled all the red-leather booths, enjoying their slices and a soda on the side. Customers ate and chatted at the same time, creating a casual atmosphere for big parties of people. Football games lit up the TV screens, keeping diners entertained. We ordered a slice of the Big Sur and the Maverick pizza ($6.38 for each). The Maverick was a meat lover’s favorite topped with bacon, Canadian bacon, sausage, and pepperoni. The Big Sur has a more diverse variety of toppings: roasted garlic, tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, mushroom and green onions. The combination of the ingredients made the pizza enjoyable and comforting. Both pizzas had a thin crust and the perfect amount of crispness, making for an enjoyable late-night meal.

MJ Sushi: 3.5/5

Since it opened in the spring of 2023, MJ Sushi’s simple, unlit red and white sign has beckoned to passersby on El Camino Real. The late-night closing times of 10:30 p.m. on weekdays, and midnight on weekends and Fridays, as well as the proximity to the Palo Alto High School campus, make this the perfect spot for post-football game dinners. Even after we arrived at 10 p.m., the crowd of about 20 people chatting and eating created a casual and enjoyable ambiance. Out of over 20 different House Special Roll options, we ordered the MJ Sushi Roll ($13.99), along with a side of gyoza ($5.99). The roll contains eel, tempura, cucumber and mango, wrapped in sushi rice topped with sliced raw salmon, house special sauce and fried tempura crumbles. For $14, the roll only came with six pieces — too few given the cost and the quality. The gyoza had a savory, well-seasoned pork filling with a hint of spice, although it lacked crispiness. The complementary savory sauce added an extra layer of flavor and for its low price of $6, we would order it again.