Meadowlark. 303 Magazine. Photographs by Meg O'Neill

Curbside view of Meadowlark Kitchen – Photo by Meg O’Neil

An hour after midnight munchies set in, after-hours bar crawlers find themselves in need of a hot and ready meal. The answer to every late night patron’s hunger hunt can be found at RiNo’s own Meadowlark Kitchen. The 37 seat new-American restaurant and bar showcases a small changing menu that focuses on local products, flavors and inspirations. Mixologist Billy Tickle shakes and stirs cocktails from a short and sweet list of concoctions that include takes on classic favorites, barrel aged manhattans, 12 wine choices and 12 rotating draft beers. The cocktail list is supplemented with what is hands down one of the best late night menus that Denver has to offer.  Part owner and Executive Chef Joshua Bitz has gifted the city of Denver with half-a-dozen dishes that are made to impress until 2 a.m. — seven days a week.

Photo by Kari Cummings

Photo by Kari Cummings

What’s really cool about this gem of a menu is that it features the infamous Meadowlark burger ($12) — arguably one the best burgers in Denver. The first time I saw the burger from behind the open kitchen I couldn’t believe the sheer height of it. Candied bacon, a beef heart blended patty, a poached egg, a Wisconsin three-year aged cheddar cheese sauce, and beer-battered onion ring stack up to make a sizable and filling meal fit for the gods of late night food. I suggest that you either pick up a fork and knife or ask the bartender for a second napkin because this burger doesn’t go down without a fight. It’s recommended to “attack from above” and press the two pieces of brioche together — compressing the towering burger makes the meal a bit more manageable while strategically breaking the yolk.

Photo by Meg O'Neil

The Last Word cocktail – Photo by Meg O’Neil

The beverage that I repeatedly enjoy is The Last Word ($13). It is bitter, floral, refreshing and pairs perfectly with the rich and heavy ingredients in the Meadowlark burger that often accompanies it. This concoction is a reproduction of a classic prohibition style drink that doesn’t frequently resurface. Gin, chartreuse (herbal liqueur ), Luxardo (cherry liqueur) and lime juice get shaken, tipped and strained into a rocks glass. This beauty is a pale golden green cocktail gets garnished with a cherry and is a great way to start or finish any evening.

The late night crowd at Meadowlark Kitchen - Photo by Meg O'neil

The late night crowd at Meadowlark Kitchen – Photo by Meg O’Neil

The Meadowlark Kitchen is located at the heart of the city in the RiNo district and is serving Colorado inspired food that blows its competition out of the water. Denver Diner and The Breakfast King don’t have anything on this beast of a late night burger.

Meadowlark Kitchen 2705 Larimer St, Denver; Open Monday through Sunday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.