March 12, 2013

'Feed the Beast' host says dinner is better late

Mikey Roe features late-night dining spots, including several in Austin

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There's a saying that nothing good happens after 2 a.m.

Mikey Roe, a self-appointed late-night food expert, begs to differ.

The Plano native maintains that many of his best dining-out experiences, in cities all across America, have occurred during the wee hours, long after most eating establishments close their doors.

"Just because it's 3 in the morning doesn't mean you have to settle for a burger in a bag," Roe says. "Some great places are open 24 hours."

You just have to know how and where to find them.

That's where Roe's new Travel Channel show, Feed the Beast, airing 8 p.m. Wednesday, comes in.

Feed the Beast is introducing viewers to the best after-hours eateries, one city at a time.

"I'm a big traveler," Roe says. "My friends and I like to experience a city and what it has to offer as a night life. We like to go out and see the town and go to the bars and go to concerts.

"After that, it's fun to go somewhere, sit down, get good food and recap the night."

Through trial and error, Roe developed a knack for finding places to satisfy his late-night needs.

Not that it's hard to pick a winner in, say, Austin's Sixth Street entertainment district. Or in Manhattan's East Village. Or San Francisco's Chinatown.

There's a late-night subculture in those communities, Roe notes, that makes the areas as alive at night as they are during the day.

Last week's Austin episode showcased Chi'Lantro (a Korean-Mexican fusion food truck famous for its kimchi fries), Frank (a restaurant on Colorado Street that does an "unforgettable" Jackalope hot dog), Sam's (on 12th Street, a great barbecue dive) and Magnolia Cafe (on South Congress Avenue, famous for the "Sorry We're Open" sign and the tasty "Love Migas").

The show also visits Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Roe says that after-hours dining doesn't have to mean a steady diet of dive bars.

"It all depends on the night and the mood," he says. "There's a place in L.A. called Pacific Dining Car that is high-end food all the way. It's a famous place. It's in an actual railroad car, it's open 24 hours, and you can get steak and lobster there at 3 o'clock in the morning.

"It all boils down to what you're feeling on any given night. When I go out, I literally let the night take me. I may end up getting biscuits and gravy one night and another night I might get Thai food."

If you think a food-themed show is an awkward fit for a travel-themed TV network, try looking at it this way:

Food is inseparably part of travel. Read what travel critics have to say and they tend to devote a lot of ink to where to eat. Food often defines the very identity of a city.

You can visit a city, skip the famous landmarks and still come home raving about the trip because of the great eating experiences. But rarely does the opposite occur. You almost never hear someone chatting up a trip but admitting the food was lousy.

"Food is part of the experience," Roe says. "You can tell somebody, 'I just got back from Maui,' and you'll hear, 'Oh, yeah, what did you eat?' almost before they ask, 'How was the beach?'"

Roe says he hopes the show inspires viewers.

"I like to encourage people to get out there," Roe says. "Maybe it's outside of your wheelhouse, but instead of going to dinner and movie, why not reverse it?

"Go to a movie and then get a late dinner at 12:30 or 1 o'clock. Keep the babysitter for an extra hour and, instead of rushing home, go to a place where you can sit down and have a good time after seeing a movie or a show. Share a piece of pie or a milkshake.

"You might just discover that it tastes a little bit better to you at that hour."

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