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New Yorker wants to know what's up with breakfast

I'll be in your great city soon for a few memorable meals. On my home board - NYC Outer Boros - there have been a few posts about how there is nowhere here to get a Chicago breakfast. What's up? Let me know what I'm missing and where I can find typical examples next month. I'll be staying at the Hilton & Towers (or whatever it's called now).

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  1. Chicago style breakfasts? Never heard of such a thing! Breakfast is pretty much the same here as in NY or anywhere else. IMO, it's them Southern folks that take it to whole another level.

    For a great breakfast in the city go to Sweet Maple on Taylor St. or if your really mobile, go to Walker Bros. in Lincolnshire.

    The absolute best breakfast I've had in the Chicago region is in downtown Kenosha, WI at Franks Diner, one of oldest operating diner cars in the country (1926), amazing food and great atmosphere.

    1. Is this the Outer Boroughs thread you are thinking of?

      If so, the Chicagoan OP mentions "Bongo Room, Orange, Toast, Flying Saucer, Bite among others" There are branches of both Bongo Room and Orange near your hotel: Bongo Room at Wabash and Roosevelt, Orange on Harrison between Federal and Clark. I think Bongo Room would be the better bet for you.

      Another poster in that thread misses Lou Mitchell's in particular, which is more of an old-style coffeeshop kind of place, as opposed to the trendy spots listed above. It's near the train station, a short cab ride from the Hilton. Personally, I don't think I'd make a special trip for it.

      And you might want to read through a recent thread here on the Chicago board, "Breakfast out, rants and raves"

      Oh, while I'm copying urls I'll throw in this one too. This is a post of mine about breakfast places near the Congress Hotel, a block north of your Hilton:

      1. Ina's on west Randolph is great. Try the Heavenly Hots.
        Tempo Restaurant on State Street. Great ommlette's and Greek Food.
        Original House of Pancakes on Bellview and Rush for great pancakes. Forget Walker Bros in Lincolnshire (Orig. House of Pancakes serves the same stuff).
        Check out brunch at several of our Hotels...Four Seasons Hotel, Caliterra Restaurant, Peninsula Hotel, etc.
        Lou Mitchel's is overrated.

        1 Reply
        1. re: amoncada

          I would have to agree about Tempo. After 25 years of eating breakfast all over Chicago, Tempo wins hands down for consistently producing superb, fresh, hot omelettes that are top notch. And HUGE! The spinach and feta omelette gets me salivating just to think of it. With Greek toast. Mmmm...

        2. I think Norma's at the Meridien is one of the very few places in NY where you can get much more creative creative breakfast offerings. Otherwise, I think it's generally standard fare.

          Chicago has a number of spots that serve almost exclusively breakfast offerings that are far more creative than simply ham and eggs. Considering that you will be staying at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, the poster above is correct there are two such breakfast places close to you -- Bongo Room (Roosevelt & Wabash) and Orange (Harrison b/w Federal & Clark). I think both are excellent. Here's a link to the menu at Bongo Room:


          One thing I really like about Bongo Room is that if you can't decide what you want, you can order 1/2 or 1/3 portions of any dish. I probably slightly prefer Orange, mostly because if their weekly-changing pancake flight which offers a four-sectioned plate, each with 3 miniature buttermilk pancakes, each section offering a different creative topping or presentation. Here's a link to Orange's menu:


          1 Reply
          1. re: BRB

            One note on both of these restaurants. They do get fairly crowded on weekends, so if you're flexible, it's probably best to go on a weekday. Of the two, I prefer Bongo Room (on-the-money Eggs Benedict), but Orange, as per the above, has its adherents. By the way, if you're stuck with a long wait at the Bongo Room on a Sunday, you might want to try Gioco down the block. It serves a good breakfast (only on Sundays) with an Italian touch, and seems to draw far less of a crowd (unless the Bears are at home).

            1312 S. Wabash Ave.

          2. The discussion above gives a good picture of what's available here in two categories of breakfast places, the upscale/creative spots like Bongo Room and the Greek diner kind of places like Tempo. But (to complicate the picture further) my favorite kind of Chicago breakfast is a third category which I'll label "ethnic". I love the breakfast at Healthy Food Lithuanian restaurant on Halsted St. in Bridgeport (and I know jbw will agree with me here):

            And I love breakfasts at many of the Mexican places in town, at Nuevo Leon on 18th Street for example, where I'd recommend either the chilaquiles or the machacado con huevo, and be sure to get their house-made flour tortillas with your breakfast.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Amata

              A definite ditto on Healthy Food (you'll want to give the pancakes--blynais?--a shot), and if you're there on a Saturday morning don't neglect to ask for a bacon bun (not on the menu). If you're lucky there'll be a couple left.

            2. Breakfasts in Chicago are definitely something special. It's not that there's a specific style that can be defined as "Chicago-style." Rather, it's the inventiveness of the breakfasts in Chicago that sets them apart (and to a lesser extent famously large portions and solid to superior quality across the board). Having lived in New York the last 3 years, I can say that breakfast was a huge part of what I missed from Chicago. New York does brunch that can be quite good at places like 9th St. Market and some of the UWS locations, but they don't do heaping platters of omelets or a side of 4 heaping cinnamon rolls. Chicago does breakfast, and in a big way.

              Others in the post above have already mentioned some of the more famous locations, but let me add arguably the two most famous breakfast place in Chicago: Ann Sather's and Manny's Deli. There are several locations for Ann Sather's, of cinnamon roll fame - most are on the north side. There's only one Manny's location, close to the South Loop, just off Roosevelt.

              Additionally, let me throw in a couple of places if you find yourself on the north side that are new to me since moving back to Chicago. Nookies Tree on Halsted serves up high-quality ingredients all night on the weekends and holds one dish I particularly love, the crunchy french toast. Melrose Diner has great omelets for the late breakfast the day after, and both Deleece Restaurant and Platiyo consistently turn out (respectively) delicious fritadas and chorizo omelets.

              1. Breakfast! I love breakfast! haha
                Ok there is Twisted Spoke, fav of mine, their bloody mary's are FANTASTIC! They also have a great eclectic brunch menu.


                We also like Ann Sathers they have great swedish pancakes


                Also Orange


                Wishbone (southern style

                Cafe 28
                amazing cuban! just off the brown line

                Hardy Boys

                There is a great place in andersonville, the name is on the tip of my tongue UGH sorry!

                I'm sure I've missed a bunch of places but there are some!!!
                do you know about the CTA trip planner?! that thing is great for getting around chicago!!

                have fun!!

                1. I'm from NYC too, but I have to say, from what people have mentioned, it's nothing you couldn't get in Union Square on a Sunday like at Chat and Chew or any diner in NYC. I think any NYCer can say without question, that we own on Greek diners I can name 20 in NYC that are better than Tempo.

                  But I will say this, until I moved to Chicago, I hadn't ever had chilequiles like here. I lived in Corona and Red Hook, but seriously, that is something I'm convinced doesn't exist in NYC.

                  Really though, based on that post you're referring to, I have to believe those people who transplanted from Chicago, don't know NYC. I'm actually really appalled, because I feel like Chicago diner food is dismal compared to NYC-especially items like home fries, spinach pie, and gyros.

                  I think Clinton St. Baking Co, Kitchenette, Norma's pancakes are better than the aforementioned places.

                  But, I think Lula cafe on the corner of Kedzie Blvd and Logan Blvd. (take the blue line from downtown to Logan square) is probably the best within the city. It's all organic and natural stuff, but really decadent. I get their pancakes probably once a week because they're that good. Plus really good bloody marys.

                  Must warn you though, if you decide to do Sunday brunch, expect a half hour or hour wait at any decent place you go. People in Chicago really are about the Sunday brunch wherever they go.

                  PS. I lived in NYC for 20 years, and Chicago for 6. Do yourself a favor too, if you eat Chinese here, don't get an eggroll. A lot of places screw it up royally compared to NYC using peanut butter. Yes, they use peanut butter. Get Thai food. The Thai here is 10x better than NYC.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: SKing

                    Well, perhaps at a diner, but it's difficult for me to conceive of a better gyros than those that can be found at the Parthenon. Have you tried it there?

                    1. re: jbw

                      I have and honestly think I get a better gyro from a vendor in Queens along with souvalakis.

                      From my experience, a gyro is the Greek equivalent to a burger; that is it's intended to be really satisfying and hearty fast food. I would hope that Gibson's has a great burger just like I'd hope a gyro at Parthenon, Athena's, or whatever else is a fine eatery down in Greektown to be great, but I wouldn't go out of my way order one there again.

                  2. Please do yourself a favor and do not miss out on Orange and The Bongo Room.

                    1. IF you want a true "Chicago-style" breakfast, Lou Mitchell's in the Loop is the place. Not trendy, nothing fancy. Big Chicago breakfast.

                      1. Voted best croissant in Chicago - you must visit Vanille Patisserie 2229 N. Clybourn Ave. almond croissants are my favorite as well as the coffee eclairs.