Craving late-night junk food

Columnist Caitlin Weigel suggests some deep-fried snacks that may make dieters reconsider – whether in Philly or elsewhere.

Columnist Caitlin Weigel suggests some deep-fried snacks that may make dieters reconsider – whether in Philly or elsewhere.

AMSTERDAM – I’m going to be upfront with you. This article is about Amsterdam, and I plan on keepin’ it real. Ya dig? I could tell you about the canals, the tulips or the Van Gogh museum, but let’s not kid ourselves. We all know the most notable feature of Amsterdam is the weed.
There. I said it.

Marijuana has been legal in Amsterdam since the 1970s and is sold at various coffee shops around the city. It’s available in a variety of forms, from pre-rolled joints to “space cakes.”

Amsterdam seems to be well aware of its status as a stoner city, because the only thing more prevalent than Mary Jane is junk food. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find fry stands, ice cream shops and my personal favorite, the Dutch fast-food establishment, FEBO.

FEBO isn’t your typical burger joint. It simultaneously looks retro and futuristic, like something Marty McFly would have encountered in “Back to the Future Part II.”  The yellow and red décor are perfectly aligned with the tacky fast-food staples, and the cuisine is fairly standard, with a few Dutch favorites such as frikandellen – mutated cousin of hot dogs – and krokets (consider them fried surprises). The insides of krokets could have anything in them – potatoes, minced meat, fingers, whatever. As long as it’s fried, right?

Instead of ordering at a counter, customers view their options in little glass cases  – much like women in the Red Light District – along the walls of the shop. Simply choose an item, throw a few euros in the coin slot and open the little door to retrieve your heart-attack-inducing treat.

Over the course of the trip, I ate more food than the entire cast of “Heavyweights” combined. Fries with mayo, falafel, grilled cheese, pancakes, cinnamon ice cream and stroop waffles made up my diet for the weekend. (Google these immediately and prepare yourself for some serious food envy.)

Despite protests from the little man in my head telling me it was bad to eat these foods, I have to say, I felt pretty good. Maybe if the little man was eating more stroop waffles, he wouldn’t be such a Debbie Downer.

There’s something comforting in eating those salty, sweet, late-night snacks. And while I’m not advising you to forsake all things green and start worshipping at the alter of the Deep Fryer, I would highly recommend indulging every now and then on your favorite greasy, guilty pleasures.

For those of you in the 215 craving something other than a salad, I recommend hitting up the Center City Pretzel Co. at 816 Washington Avenue. It’s not much to look at, and you shouldn’t expect to sit down – it’s literally a teeny, tiny little counter next to the actual pretzel factory. It can be hard to spot, but it’s worth looking for. The factory starts serving fresh, piping hot pretzels at midnight Monday through Friday  and 1 a.m. on Saturdays, and for only 35 cents, even the most broke college kids can afford to gorge themselves.

While you’re in the South Philly ‘hood, you’ll obviously have to stop at Pat’s and Steaks at 1237 E. Passyunk Ave. to pick up a cheesesteak. A combination of grease and hype make this the ultimate munchie meal.Don’t get drawn into the bright lights of Geno’s – that’s what insects do. B-line straight for Pat’s and never look back.

If you find yourself in West Philly, stop by Mexicali at 110 S 40th St. A five-dollar bill and some change will get you a sweet potato and plantain burrito that will leave you swooning.

And finally, if your craving for junk is so bad you can’t bear to leave Main Campus, your best bet is Insomnia Cookies at Montgomery Avenue, between 12th and 13th streets. Warm, gooey cookies are only a few blocks away? And they deliver? Say no more.

Whether your munchies stem from some late-night, ahem, “activities” or you fall into the general love-of-all-things-food category with me, Philly has you covered. Just be sure to eat an apple the next day so it balances out.

Caitlin Weigel can be reached at

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