A few weeks ago, Jon Humes was hanging out with a couple of friends, Ronnie Irizarry and Landon Pinchin — and around midnight, they got hungry.
The three were dismayed by the limited options of late-night food in Salt Lake City. They got talking about what they would order and eat, if they could.
Now they, and other Salt Lakers, can.
The three friends recently launched Feed Me, a late-night ghost kitchen that serves elevated comfort food from 8 p.m. till 3 a.m., Thursday through Sunday.
The three men, in just a month and a half, managed to fill out all the business paperwork, land in the last available space at ComCom Kitchen, a commercial kitchen that caters to startup projects and ghost kitchens, and test out more than 30 dishes before settling on 15 for the menu.
A typical night shift starts at 2 p.m., when Humes arrives to start the prep work. Once the food trucks that use ComCom leave for their dinner runs, the commissary is largely empty. That’s when Irizarry and Pinchin arrive, and the three focus on making food — which they either hand off to delivery drivers, or sell directly to people who come by ComCom (at 67 W. 1700 South in Salt Lake City) in the middle of the night.
On Feed Me’s opening weekend, Humes said, the three were busier than they expected. They filled more than 120 orders over the course of a few nights — confirmation of what they first noticed about the lack of good late-night food in Salt Lake City that’s not a chain diner.
“I think before COVID, there was kind of a surge,” Humes said. “Restaurants were starting to push those late-night hours. But I think people have been afraid to take risks after COVID.”
Feed Me’s esthetic is tongue-in-cheek, with a bit of a Deadhead vibe. Humes said many of their customers are just coming home from bars and nightclubs, but a number of them work swing shifts — at bars and restaurants, or hospitals — or are dealing with insomnia and are just hungry.
“We all come from restaurant backgrounds,” Humes said, “so we really tried to build a menu that was simple to execute. We use two pieces of equipment: a fryer, and a grill. We start with just base ingredients, and build up from there. We kind of went for the Taco Bell effect — 30 ingredients, used 27 different ways.”
However — and no offense to Taco Bell fans — Feed Me uses ingredients like high-end cheeses and fresh vegetables and herbs, and makes its sauces from scratch.
“For our mac ‘n’ cheese, we load it with six different spices,” Humes said. “It’s got a great flavor to it, because we use shredded cheese and cheese sauce, so it’s just super cheesy.”
Their chicken tenders are hand-breaded, and soaked in a buttermilk batter — and can be paired with a number of dipping sauces, including ranch, barbecue, honey mustard and Feed Me’s signature sauce, called “dank sauce,” a spicy version of fry sauce. The same sauce is used on their Dank Burger, served on a brioche bun with cheese, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce and grilled onions.
Feed Me also makes desserts you probably can’t get outside of the midway at a state fair — including deep-fried Oreos and Twinkies, and breakfast cereal bars that use sugary marshmallow cereals, not just crisped rice.
The burgers and the fried stuff — the chicken tenders, Oreos and Twinkies — are the most popular dishes right now, Humes said. The next step, he said, is to start a healthy menu, to balance out the fried foods.
“We’ll have some salads, some pita and beet hummus,” he said. “We’ll also be adding some elote [Mexican-style corn on the cob] and fried Korean dogs. And, of course, it’ll all be loaded with toppings. So it’ll be elevated, it’ll be available late at night, and it’ll be good.”
Feed Me, based at ComCom Kitchen, 67 W. 1700 South, www.sendmemunchies.com, 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., Thursday through Sunday. Orders placed as late as 3 a.m. will still be filled.
Other late-night food options
Arempa’s Venezuelan Cuisine • 350 S. State St., Salt Lake City, 385-301-8905, arempas.com • A longtime go-to for those who literally can’t stomach fast food at 1 a.m. Serving handmade arepas, empanadas and patacons (which are similar to burgers), Arempa’s also has a respectable vegan menu that includes bowls, salads and plant-based arepas and empanadas. • Late-night hours: 10 a.m. to midnight Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Pie Hole • 344 S. State St., Salt Lake City, 801-359-HOLE (4653), pieholeutah.com • Just two doors up the block from Arempa’s, Pie Hole serves big slices of traditional pizzas, including a basic cheese slice and pepperoni, as well a specialty pie of the day. You can also build your own pizza starting with lots of different sauces, including a vegan roux. The delivery system is no-frills, with slices served on paper plates — making them easy to carry out, which can come in handy since the small dining room can fill up quickly. • Late-night hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Purgatory Bar • 62 E. 700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-596-2294, purgatorybar.com • Purgatory offers some of the most varied and high-end options for vegans seeking late-night food, including vegan cheese fries, Japanese curry rice, a vegan burger, and Japanese-style potato croquettes. There’s also dishes for omnivores, including several kinds of loaded fries and gourmet burgers. • Late-night hours: 4 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday.
White Horse Spirits & Kitchen • 325 S. Main St, Salt Lake City, 801-363-0137, www.whitehorseslc.com • White Horse offers one of the only fine dining late-night options, with elevated bar snacks like fried stuffed olives, confit duck wings and charcuterie as well as fresh fish and shellfish, salads and wagyu steaks. • Late-night hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Sunday; food orders can be placed until 12:45 a.m.