Midnight snackin’

It’s midnight and you still have two hours of homework left to do. We’ve all been there before and we all know that what’s on your mind isn’t, “Wow I should really finish this homework,” but rather, “Man, I’m really hungry.”

Pubescent teenagers need their food. What Mom has in the cupboard will not always suffice, so outside help can be necessary. Palo Alto has a number of 24-hour fast food shops and convenience stores that can fill up a stomach and bring a smile to anyone’s face. Next time you are stuck with a case of the grumbles, try out some of these shops that are sure to ease your gastro-pain. The best part is that they are there for you every hour of the day.

Happy Donuts, Palo Alto
3916 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Food quality: 4/5
Atmosphere: 3/5
Nighttime snack: 5/5

Hands down one of the best mom-and-pop joints our city has to offer, Happy Donuts is home to some of the best donuts around. Try a donut ($1 regular, $1.95 filled) or buy more and share with your friends ($5.75/half dozen, $9.75/dozen for regular donuts). Their donut holes ($2.75/dozen) are also nice small treats if you are looking to pace your eating. I was surprised to find that these donuts are polar opposites of those of the Krispy Kreme empire: they are moist and fluffy inside and do not leave your mouth with an overbearing taste of sugar.

Happy Donuts also has various sandwiches ($5-$6) and breakfast sandwiches ($3-$4) that are filled with a combination of three breakfast items, such as egg, bacon, ham, sausage or cheese. Although these options may not be as appealing in the middle of the night, they are definitely a good alternative if you are looking for a substantial meal.

To wash your food all down, try a hot chocolate ($1.95/medium) or a coffee ($1.75/medium). The coffee is fresh hot and served with real milk and cream (not any of those fake creamers). Happy Donuts also has fruit smoothies ($3.95) however they were not available when I went to visit.

If you are looking to get some work done, Happy Donuts is the perfect place to get some nice study time in, and there is also free Wi-Fi available with any purchase. Despite the fact that the the area surrounding the shop can be sketchy, Happy Donuts itself is relatively quiet, has abundant seating and is a great place for a late-night snack.

205 University Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Food quality: 3.5/5
Atmosphere: 2/5
Nighttime snack: 2/5

The world’s largest fast food chain has a location open for 24 hours on University Ave., and although it may not be as appropriate as it is at lunchtime, Subway never gets old. Subway’s custom sandwiches are available with different meats, cheeses and vegetables in six-inch ($3.50-$5.25) and footlong ($5-$8) sizes. Also keep an eye out for the $5 footlong of the month. January’s featured sandwich is the Chipotle Chicken & Cheese.

Subway also has breakfast sandwiches ($2-$6) that include combinations of egg, cheese, bacon and other meats. These sandwiches can be made on a bagel (190-330 calories) or on one of Subway’s housemade breads (650-1320 calories). Coffee ($1.50) and fountain drinks ($1.09) can be added to any meal, as well.

The University Ave. location was fairly empty at 11:00 p.m., as I expected, since Subway is often not one’s first choice for a late evening or middle-of-the-night snack. However, this location has seating for about 15 people, so if you find yourself looking for something filling, eat fresh at Subway.

401 Waverley Street
Palo Alto,CA 94301

Food quality: 2/5
Atmosphere: 1/5
Nighttime snack: 4 /5

Known as the granddaddy of all convenience stores, 7-Eleven is your go-to stop if you are looking for junk food heaven. Snacks like donuts ($0.99), pastries ($1.39), packs of candy ($1-$2) and hot dogs ($1.29) are unhealthy favorites that never fail to disappoint. In addition, various sandwiches ($3-$4) are delivered daily if you want a more healthy snack.
For all those looking to get through an all-nighter, you will be pleased to know that there is a whole section filled with every single type of caffeinated energy drink known to man, including the favorite 5 Hour Energy ($3.49). Everyone knows that a trip to 7-Eleven would not be complete without a slurpee ($1.29-$1.99), or a fountain drink which are available for the same price if you so choose.
7-Eleven brand snacks tend to be slightly cheaper than their competitor’s options, so look for those if you are looking to save a couple cents. It seems as the only thing that the 7-Eleven corporation does not offer as competition are their own chocolate and condoms.
While you may not need to go to 7-Eleven for the motor oil or cat litter that they have, they do offer the best range of sugar-filled snacks that parents despise. Day or night, 7-Eleven has the best selection of food that although may not be very healthy, is perfect for any time of day.

Jack in the Box
2280 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Food quality: 3.5/5
Atmosphere: 3/5
Nighttime snack: 3.5/5

My first-ever visit to Jack in Box was definitely a memorable experience. I was greeted by a self-order kiosk that I could not pass up the opportunity to use. Although the machine says everything you order out loud (which made me feel slightly embarrassed about what I was eating), it was a convenient and fun way to see the entire menu and all that the fast food chain has to offer.

I was surprised by the quality of the food itself, and although it is no In-N-Out, Jack in the Box’s food was shockingly tasty. The chicken sandwich ($1) was cheap but not terrible for its price. I liked how the kiosk let me customize my order so I could request what toppings I wanted on the sandwich. If you order a combo meal, pay the extra 30 cents to substitute regular french fries for curly fries. Trust me, it’s worth it. I gobbled down the curly fries ($1.99/small) instantly, as they were not too oily and seasoned just right.

Different kinds of hamburgers are also available, including the Sirloin Cheeseburger ($4.99) and the Sourdough Cheestesteak Melt ($4.49). Other chicken options include chicken nuggets ($2.50/10 pieces) and Jack’s Spicy Chicken ($3.99).

To drink, there are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and Oreo milkshakes ($2.69/regular size), and although extremely thick and barely able to fit through the straw, they will fill you up instantly.

If you are looking for an early morning meal, breakfast is served all day at Jack in the Box, with options ranging from the Supreme Croissant ($2.69) to the Steak & Egg Burrito ($3.39).

The El Camino Real location is fairly small but has enough seating to accommodate about 20 people. Also, the employees that I encountered were cheerful and very helpful. This chain has surprisingly tasty food and is definitely a good choice for a heavy meal, whether for lunch or for midnight brunch.

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