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Hold It Down, Kids

The real hangover helper: grease, grease and ... grease.

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A hair of the same dog next morning/Is best to quench our fev'rish burning, Englishman Edward Ward wrote in 1717. After 287 years, that's still good advice. But not every victim of a throbbing New Year's Day hangover can confront a post-reverie Bloody Mary or pint of warm Guinness. Instead of the hair-raising hair of the dog, perhaps a more comforting, slightly less intoxicating cure is in order.

An Internet search spews out tons of unpleasant possibilities: a tall glass of olive oil, sipped slowly; several cups of ginger tea; chomping down a big bowl of peanuts (loaded with vitamin B, which aids in metabolizing all that booze); or various stomach-settling blender drinks involving bananas, milk, honey and God knows what else.

But a traditional hangover cure with more culinary appeal is a big, greasy breakfast.

The classic post-hangover hangouts in town are, of course, all-night diners, the ones that specialize in the kind of breakfasts that quickly lubricate all that head-spinning and stomach-churning: hot java, followed by a thick cheese omelet, hash browns or home fries, crispy bacon and a mountain of buttered toast. One of the oldest greasy spoons in the city has been frying up eggs and burgers for more than half a century. At the cozy Heriford's Grill (4613 Independence Avenue), you can plop down at the bright-orange counter and dig into a cheap, rib-sticking morning meal. The cooks still peel, boil and slice the potatoes for their crusty, tender hash browns on the premises. The locale also offers a juicy cheeseburger that works faster than two Tylenol and a Swedish massage. Still feeling a bit woozy? Wolf down a slab of coconut cream pie.

The venerable Nichols Lunch (39th Street and Southwest Trafficway) is an even older venue -- the kitchen crew there has been curing hangovers since before the end of Prohibition. The tough-as-nails waitresses are still serving breakfast to the inebriated until about 4 a.m.; after that witching hour, the zoned-out zombies (sober but miserable) stumble in, timidly requesting coffee and perhaps a single pancake. If that stays down, one might confidently order one of this diner's brawny, butch breakfasts: a He-Man or a Lil' Abner.

Finally, unrepentant drunks all over the city swear by the signature breakfast at downtown's 24-hour Town Topic (2021 Broadway). The Truck Stop is the surefire remedy for postparty pain. This omelet is loaded with everything that cures you: bacon or ham, hash browns and onions draped with melted cheese. "If you can keep it down long enough to crawl back into bed," insists one devotee of the dish, "you can wake up in ten or twelve hours and feel somewhat close to normal."

Some true believers think that an Egg McMuffin or two from McDonald's or one of the paper-wrapped breakfast sandwiches from QuikTrip can hold back the horrors of a hangover. But that's not nearly as much fun as sitting at the counter of a diner. After all, misery loves company.

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