Cheap breakfast diner in downtown?
In town this weekend at Intercontinental. Would love to find a great cheap breakfast diner in downtown/Navy Pier area (or within walking distance of Intercontinental). If you're familiar with Sears in San Francisco, that's the type of place I'm looking for. Nothing fancy...just good all-American breakfast food with superb coffee.
It is a mystery why downtown Chicago has so few breakfast places when New York has several per block. Anyway: If you are up for an interesting 20-minute walk before breakfast, exit the InterContinental and turn right, walking north on Michigan Avenue. Go all the way past the Water Tower and keep going until you've passed the Hotel Drake and the stores along the way are replaced by condo buildings on one side and lake on the other. Turn left at Bellevue and go the long block of 1880's townhouses. Then on your right will be the Old Original Pancake House, breakfast until 3 PM, worth the walk, good food, vast variety. If you don't want to walk all the way back, State offers the choice of the 36 Broadway bus or the Red Line Subway (station at State & Division), or walk back along Rush for a change.
Actually, Chicago has quite a few breakfast places in and around downtown - regular restaurants like Atwood Cafe and South Water Kitchen and Heaven on Seven, as well as breakfast specialty places like Bongo Room and Orange on Harrison and Lou Mitchell's and Kitsch'n (in addition to the previously-mentioned Original Pancake House and its awesome apple pancake). However, they tend to be concentrated more around the Loop, with its concentration of office workers who have breakfast before work, rather than around the Mag Mile hotel/tourism district. And none of those places are what I would call "cheap", either.
I should add, every time I've spent a lot of time working at a particular location downtown, I've found that there's a cheap place to get breakfast within a 2-3 block radius. I don't know what's in the immediate vicinity of the Intercontinental, but it wouldn't surprise me to hear that there is such a place nearby.
I live in SF, and come to Chicago monthly. My favorite place for breakfast is Fox & Obel, which is more of an upscale store (think Whole Foods + A.G. Ferrari) with its own cafe. Big, delicious breakfasts with great ingredients, and good coffee. I can't think of ANY other place in that area that's worth it. But it's not a diner/cafeteria place like Sears (and I don't really think Sears is all that great anyway ;-)
Fox & Obel Food Market
401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611