Spirit Room 133 SW 2nd 525-7880
Most notably, downtown's new restaurant, The Spirit Room, is open late. Until 4 am most days, and until 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights. So, instead of drunk-driving to the Taco Bell on Interstate, ordering a 7-layer burrito, a double layer taco, Nachos Bell Grande, a cheese quesadilla, and a bean burrito (low in calories), one can order up a heaping pile of pasta, a filet mignon, a buffalo burger with a salad, or one of the Spirit Room's many breakfast options.

The Spirit Room offers a bevy of high-protein dishes, perfect for the person who has been drinking since 2 pm, or the ambitious partier who plans on staying up until dawn. And beyond that, their cuisine is entirely suitable for the person who stopped drinking in the '90s and just wants a good plate of food.

The Spirit Room's commitment isn't to subtlety. They serve Steak and Eggs Benedict for breakfast, and ladle on the creamy sauce in the Jalapeno Chicken Penne and Seafood Fettuccini dinners (more so in the former). The Seafood Fettuccini, however, comes piled with delicious seafood: huge, tender prawns and mussels that shirk the norm by actually tasting fresh. Also, the creamy Alfredo sauce has a hint of white wine, and goes well beyond the half 'n' half and butter mixture concocted at most pasta chains. The Stuffed Chicken Kiev is a piece of art; thick slices of pepper jack-stuffed chicken around a huge pile of mashed potatoes and decorated with marinated spears of asparagus.

The Prawn & Avocado Niscoise is also impressive, with juicy prawns, tender avocado, and Spicy Honey Mustard dressing. This is a good salad to share, however, unless you want to eat half an avocado.

The prices at The Spirit Room are a bit high for a late-night joint, but at $8.75 for the Southwestern Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, or $7.25 for the Buffalo Burger--which is much healthier than ground beef, by the way--you can certainly seek out the deals. And actually, even though the 10-oz. Top Sirloin with Eggs costs $9.75, that's a steal for such a huge hunk of meat.

One aspect of the Spirit Room that could definitely use some work, however, is the ambiance. It's a long, hallway-like restaurant with exposed brick on one wall, but completely devoid of art. The back wall is blank with a couple nails sticking out, and the maroon polyester tablecloths are from one of those restaurant supply companies that wash your linen every week. The bar is pretty cool, with a nice display of liquor bottles, and the front tables look out the window onto the street, but if you're sitting in the back, the restaurant doesn't feel like a chic late-night eatery. In other words, I can't imagine Sarah Jessica Parker dining there with the gals. But then again, this ain't New York.

Next time you're downtown, give the Spirit Room a shot. If not for dinner, their Brie plate with fruit is a classy way to end the evening, and you're not giving any more money to Taco Bell and the Pepsi Corp.