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2:30 a.m. Mon.-Sun.: Best Place to get a Real Mexican Meal in the Middle of the Night 

La Piñata

It's well past midnight and you're craving Mexican food. What're ya gonna do? Sure, you could drive through a Taco Bell for some vaguely south-of-the-border treats if you don't mind ingredients extruded from a tube or warmed under a heat lamp. But maybe you'd rather have something a little more home-cooked? If so, we direct you to La Piñata in San Leandro. Sure, the decor is a little hinky, what with the dual focus on taxidermy and actual piñatas, but the kitchen serves up genuine Mexican standards such as tamales and chiles rellenos, as well as specialties such as camarones a la diabla (spicy shrimp) and caldo de pescado (catfish soup). The restaurant's bar stays open until 1:00 a.m. and features foosball, a couple of pool tables, and an all-Spanish-hits jukebox with the notable exception of, for some reason, John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band's Shaved Fish album. The restaurant is open from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 a.m. daily. And in case San Leandro is a little out of your late-night driving orbit, the branches at 1440 Park Street in Alameda and 904 Rose Street in Hayward stay open equally late.

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