Breakfast between Downtown and Far Northern Suburbs
I am staying downtown, but on Sunday morning, I am driving up to the Far Northern Suburbs (libertyville) to see my grandma. I guess that means I will take the Kennedy to the Edens to the Tri-State. Given that route, do you have any ideas for a good breakfast/brunch place along the way? I'm open to any suggestions food-wise and I'd like to keep the tab under $30 per person.
This question is easy to answer. The Chicago area has a very special group of restaurants. There is a nationwide chain called the Original Pancake House. In the Chicago area, several of the locations were started by the Walker Brothers (which is what everyone here calls the restaurants) and their standards are much, MUCH higher than the typical OPH franchisee. The restaurants are outfitted in wood and stained glass, including some original Tiffany pieces of stained glass. The food is simply outstanding. Their most popular specialty is an apple pancake that is really not a pancake; it's a big egg-based pastry made in a hot cast iron skillet, with apples and gooey cinnamon. It's TO DIE FOR. You can see a picture of it on their website. Other specialties include the German pancake (big and puffy using the same batter as the apple pancake, but without the apples or cinnamon, served with lemon and powdered sugar) and the excellent omelettes. All of these items are in the $7-10 price range. Allow 20-25 minutes for them to cook the apple or German pancake; I assure you, they're worth the wait. Everything there is top quality, from these specialties, to the coffee... everything. This is one of those MUST TRY places that are pure Chicagoland. The Walker Brothers website is http://www.walkerbrosoph.com
They have six locations in the northern suburbs and all are somewhat convenient to your route. You can get directions to any from their website. The location in Glenview is perhaps most convenient; exit at Lake Avenue Wilmette, take Lake westbound to Waukegan Road and turn north to the restaurant. You can return to the Edens spur (that's the I-94 section from the Edens to the Tri-State) by continuing north on Waukegan Road from the restaurant and there's an entrance ramp from Waukegan onto the spur.
Alternatively, you could stay on the Edens as it becomes US-41 and go to the location in Highland Park, then when you're done continue north on US-41 and cut across on IL-176 to Libertyville.
I should also mention that on Saturdays and Sundays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., waiting time for a table at Walker Brothers is typically 30-60 minutes. This is also true of many places that serve breakfast or brunch on Sunday mornings, not just Walker Brothers. If you don't mind, just bring the Sunday newspaper with you; otherwise, you may want to call whatever place you're considering during the week and ask them what their waiting time is on Sunday mornings (or make a reservation, for places that accept them, but many Sunday brunches don't - including Walker Brothers).
Again, Walker Brothers is the quintessential Chicago breakfast experience, the one that any food-lover from the Chicago area is familiar with (and nothing in the world can compare with their apple pancake)...
Another good option is Country Kitchen in Highland Park. It has a huge menu of breakfast, brunch and lunch foods. In recent years the food has gotten a little inconsistent, but it is usually very very good. It is about 2 blocks from the Highland Park Walker Bros. location, and I like Country Kitchen better.
If you are looking for something fancier, you could go to Betise in Wilmette or Frank & Betsies in Winnetka. Neither is right off of the highway, though.
"If you are looking for something fancier, you could go to Betise in Wilmette..."
Nope - Betise closed a couple of months go. Convito Italiano (same owner) and its market is expanding into the space after the first of the year, as the Plaza del Lago ownership plans to tear down the original Convito space.
Since it is a Sunday, and your budget suggests something a little more upscale, I recommend having brunch at Sweets and Savories. It is on Fullerton, not too far east of the Expressway. I believe the fixed price for brunch is $16/pp and it is served from 10-2pm. It is a small place, so you will probably need to make a reservation.
Sweets & Savories
1534 W Fullerton Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
Here is a link to a discussion by a group of people who recently enjoyed brunch at S&S.