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Breakfast in Chicago

s
showmechicago Sep 7, 2010 10:49 AM

Tomorrow I will be doing a post on my Show Me Chicago blog for the best breakfast spots in Chicago. I am trying to narrow my list to ten. I am also trying to define my criteria for choices. I am looking more at breakfast spots than brunch. I am also limiting my list to inside the city limits. When checking the spots on the net a lot of the same names such as Lou Mitchell's and Ann Sathers come up--also--a lot of the one name spots like: Yolk, Jam, Taste, Orange, Toast, Feast, etc. I have tried many--and do have some favorites but don't want to miss any that should be there.

If anyone has a favorite that you think must be on the list would love to know.

Thanks,
Carole

-----
Lou Mitchell's Restaurant
565 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60661

  1. nsxtasy Sep 13, 2010 02:31 PM

    Yesterday I ate brunch at Southport Grocery and Cafe in Lakeview, which serves breakfast seven days a week. I liked it a lot and would consider it one of the ten best spots in the city for breakfast, although maybe not in the top three. The omelet was pretty good but the real standout for me was their bread pudding pancakes. They have a lot of other interesting breakfast dishes as well. I posted a detailed report on my meal in the brunch topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy
      a
      achoo Sep 20, 2010 04:26 PM

      I agree that Southport Grocery is SOOOO much better than YOLK, Ann Sather, and Lou Mitchell.

      -----
      Lou Mitchell's Restaurant
      565 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60661

      Southport Grocery & Cafe
      3552 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

    2. GraceW Sep 12, 2010 09:15 AM

      For sure the Bongo Room. Expect to wait there but it is worth the wait.. and all of the servers and patrons are extremely friendly because it is such a cheerful place.

      Also if you want something in addition: go to Phoebe's Cupcakes for their breakfast cupcakes. Yum!

      -----
      Phoebe's Cupcakes
      Chicago, IL, Chicago, IL

      Bongo Room
      50 E Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL 60605

      1. s
        showmechicago Sep 8, 2010 12:14 PM

        Here are my breakfast picks as posted on my Show Me Chicago post for Chicago Now--I had put a link to it earlier but found out that is a no-no. I will be continuing explore Breakfast spots in Chicago including some ethnic spots and will try to put together another list by December. In the meantime--here are my current 10 choices along with my criteria. Thanks for all the suggestions--I will be trying them out. Also let me know what you think of my choices.
        I take my breakfast seriously, so trying to determine Chicago's 10 Best Go To breakfast spots has been both joyful and painful. First, I asked myself--what makes a great breakfast spot? Is it the tender corned beef cooked on the premises, the frothy hollandaise sauce, the mimosas, the French toast, the fig-infused vodka topping on the pancakes, the coffee, the service, the ambiance, the crowd, the buzz, the clientele, the atmosphere? I considered all of these but mostly I was trying to find the quintessential ingredient that says, I'm am Chicago!

        1. Bongo Room.
        If quality and attention to detail is what you are looking for go directly to the Bongo Room. Start with their house brand coffee, Inteligentsia, then add an order of banana bacon pancakes topped with a warm praline sauce and a mimosa with fresh squeezed orange juice. Expect to wait a while in line--I have heard of 2 hours waits--especially on weekends. Two locations: Wicker Park, 1470 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773 489 0690 and South Loop, 1152 S. Wabash, 312 291 0100. Weekdays 8a.m. to 2:30p.m.; Weekends 9a.m. to 2p.m.

        2. M. Henry.
        What is it about this Andersonville hangout that keeps breakfast aficionados coming back for more. It's clean, it's comfortable, there are healthy choices, the house coffee is organic, there are vegan choices and exceptional service--but it is so much more than that. Try the blackberry bliss cakes and you won't be sorry. If you want a kick with your meal just remember M. Henry is BYO. 5705 N. Clark (second location in the works). 773 561 1600. Short wait on weekends usually less than 30 minutes. Tuesday through Friday, 7a.m. to 3p.m., Weekends, 8a.m. to 3p.m.

        3. Jam.
        New kid on the block, Jam (2009), offers an urban vibe with silver walls, clear plastic chairs and a sculpture filled "backyard" garden space. The emphasis is on a great menu with chef Jerry Mauro (formerlyTrotter's and North Pond) pulling out all the stops by elevating breakfast to a gourmet delight. Look for pork cheeks, pork bellies, innovative infused toppings, pickled plums, beautiful benedicts and each entree accompanied by an amuse-bouche prelude. 937 N. Damen Ave. 773 489 0302. 8a.m. to 9p.m. daily (closed Tuesdays). BYO. Cash only.

        4.White Palace Grill.
        The White Palace Grill screams Chicago. You'll think you've walked into an
        Edward Hopper painting as you step into this 24-hour Chicago diner. The place has been here forever--or at least since 1939. Call it an urban oasis, the stereotype Chicago diner that has survived while many of its neighbors have gone away. Rub shoulders with city workers, policemen, fireman, college students and politicians. If you've had it up to here with the infused sauces, pickled plums and malted custard french toast--run, don't walk to the White Palace Grill and a fried eggs sandwiches squished between two pieces of soft white bread (probably Wonder bread) or try the 2 pork chops, 2 eggs combo--you won't be sorry. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Extensive menu, reasonable prices. 1159 S. Canal, 312 939 7167.

        5. Pauline's.
        Some may disagree with this choice, but it I felt Pauline's needed to be on the list if for nothing else its charming painted red-brick exterior and its out of the way location--a residential corner in Andersonville. To me, Pauline's says quintessential Chicago. Inside the atmosphere is bright and cheerful, the service can be spotty. Expect typical American breakfast fare, large portions and reasonable prices. 1754 W. Balmoral (corner of Ravenswood and Balmoral). 773 561 8573. 7a.m. to 3p.m., Open 365 days a year.

        Also Valois, Ann Sather’s,Magnolia Café, Lou Mitchell’s and Feast.

        -----
        White Palace Grill
        1159 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60607

        Bongo Room
        1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

        North Pond
        2610 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614

        Lou Mitchell's Restaurant
        565 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60661

        Palace Grill
        1408 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607

        3 Replies
        1. re: showmechicago
          nsxtasy Sep 8, 2010 12:25 PM

          I don't understand how you can include Magnolia Cafe in a discussion of breakfast places. It's not open for breakfast (it's not even open for lunch!), only for brunch on Sundays.

          1. re: showmechicago
            h
            harken banks Sep 8, 2010 01:50 PM

            Can you clarify if you're talking about "Palace Grill" on W. Madison or "White Palace Grill" on S. Canal?

            1. re: harken banks
              nsxtasy Sep 8, 2010 02:04 PM

              The post gives the name White Palace Grill, the address of White Palace Grill on S. Canal, and the phone number of White Palace Grill on S. Canal. It also mentions - twice - being open 24 hours, which only White Palace Grill on S. Canal is. So I'm pretty sure he/she is talking about White Palace Grill on S. Canal. :)

          2. RichInMV Sep 7, 2010 09:06 PM

            So not to totally hijack this thread, if you're staying in River North, and working down in the Loop, where is the closest really good breakfast place of all these? I've been to Lou Mitchell's and agree with the other poster's comment about 1970's style, though I enjoyed it in a way.

            Many of the other places seem to be impractical to reach from a River North hotel, in time to be at work in the loop, so I'm kind of constrained here. And weekdays, not weekends, for me...

            Thanks!

            -----
            Lou Mitchell's Restaurant
            565 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60661

            4 Replies
            1. re: RichInMV
              nsxtasy Sep 8, 2010 06:06 AM

              >> if you're staying in River North, and working down in the Loop, where is the closest really good breakfast place of all these?

              Most of the breakfast places in River North fall into two categories: hotel restaurants (which serve lunch and dinner and are also open for breakfast as an accommodation to hotel guests), and restaurants specializing in breakfast (many of which are not open for dinner, although there are exceptions). There's a thread about breakfast places in River North:

              River North Breakfast Ideas - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/693985

              Here's what I know about the ones mentioned in that topic, beyond what you can see for yourself on the menus on their website. I haven't been to LB Bistro, in the Sheraton, but it is run by a two-time World Pastry Chef Champion; I've heard it lauded for its buffet breakfast, but the $25 price means you might not want to go there most days. I love Fox & Obel, for their baked goods as well as their Cobb omelet, made to order, and if I were staying close by, I'd probably stop in several times a week. I've been to other locations of Orange and Yolk; as mentioned above, Orange has their juices and pancake flights, which are great ideas, although I've found those pancake flights a bit disappointing, partly because the tiny pancakes cool off too fast. And Yolk is competent, if unremarkable. I haven't been to Eggsperience. XOCO is good, for Mexican breakfast. I haven't been to Sable but I've had breakfast/brunch at Atwood Cafe before Chef Heather Terhune moved from there to open Sable, and it was excellent.

              River North covers a fairly wide area and if I were you, I'd try the places closest to where I'm staying, and fall into a routine at one of them. If you'd like to mention which hotel you're in, I could tell you which of these is closest.

              HTH

              1. re: nsxtasy
                RichInMV Sep 8, 2010 11:56 AM

                nsx - thanks - those are good suggestions, and actually Fox & Obel has been one of my favorites since I discovered it a couple of years ago. I usually alternate between the Trump and the Courtyard, so it's just a bit of a walk in terms of time to get to F&O and still get into the office at a decent time. I've been to Atwater and like it, particularly with the location heading in the right direction.

                I ate at Sable one or two trips ago (maybe July?) and really enjoyed it - I may try that this time for breakfast, as I thought they had an interesting, and high quality menu for a "hotel restaurant" which I generally avoid.

                As a tip to other business travelers, the Intelligentsia coffee shop at 53 W Jackson is the best downtown coffee source I have found, amidst a plethora of mediocre chain places. Both their coffee and their pastries are top notch, something I have been spoiled by back at home, as my office is just opposite the San Francisco Ferry Building (food & coffee mecca).

                1. re: RichInMV
                  nsxtasy Sep 8, 2010 12:05 PM

                  Great!

                  As noted in that other topic, I listed the places in order of increasing distance from the Trump, so I guess you're covered there.

                  Just FYI - in addition to the location of Intelligentsia in the Monadnock Building that you mention, they also have a location on Randolph between Wabash and Michigan that would also be on your way from either hotel.

                2. re: nsxtasy
                  q
                  Querencia Sep 9, 2010 08:36 PM

                  The Bistro place on the lower level of the Sheraton is fun. It's set up as chef stations and for $25 you can eat yourself crazy. Great place to take out-of-town guests.

                  Does anyone know of a Mexican buffet-style brunch in town? There used to be a good one on Lincoln but it's history.

              2. Breadcrumbs Sep 7, 2010 03:19 PM

                I frequently visit Chicago and all but one of our faves (Ina's, Bongo Room, Lou M's) are mentioned above...we love Wishbone on Washington. With its Southern cuisine and funky vibe...just a great, different, fun spot w terrific food.

                -----
                Bongo Room
                1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

                1. nsxtasy Sep 7, 2010 12:51 PM

                  I have three favorite breakfast places in Chicago, and they're well known so I'm surprised no one has mentioned them.

                  First is Bongo Room. Bongo Room specializes in unusual pancakes with sauces, such as their pretzel pancakes with white chocolate caramel sauce. Here's a tip - one portion consists of three GIGANTIC pancakes, but you can also get one-third and two-thirds portion sizes at a reduced price, so you can try more than one kind. They have two locations, one in the South Loop and the other in Bucktown/Wicker Park. http://chicago.menupages.com/restaurants/text/bongo%20room/all-areas/all-neighborhoods/all-cuisines

                  Second is M. Henry, in the Andersonville neighborhood on the North Side. They have lots of breakfast specialties, including their "blisscakes" (pancakes with fresh fruit and mascarpone) and on weekends they have great bread pudding. www.mhenry.net

                  The third is Walker Brothers. achoo mentions the Original Pancake House, which is a national chain with several locations in the city of Chicago. Walker Brothers is like the Original Pancake House on steroids. The menu is similar but the food quality is absolutely top notch, and the decor is too, with its exposed carved wood and stained glass lamps and panels including some genuine works by Louis C. Tiffany. That's why Walker Brothers is the only franchisee of the Original Pancake House allowed to put its own name on the restaurants. Don't miss their huge, puffed-up, cinnamony apple pancake! Walker Brothers has six locations in the suburbs - I know you said within the city limits, so do what you must - but IMHO the reason the quality is as high at the Original Pancake House locations in Chicago is because of the presence of the Walker Brothers locations in the suburbs. www.walkerbrosoph.com If the suburban location disqualifies them, then the city locations of the Original Pancake House deserve a nod.

                  Most of the other places mentioned are just okay. A lot of them are places where they serve conventional breakfast fare, and let's face it, there's nothing special about a place that serves ordinary scrambled eggs and pancakes. Lou Mitchell's is in this group, and gets mentioned just because it's been around for a bazillion years and is still serving commuters going through the nearby train stations each day, not because of the food, which is decent but unremarkable. The food is similarly decent but unremarkable at Ann Sather's, Ina's, Hot Chocolate, Kitsch, and Yolk. Victory Banner is okay, nothing special unless you're impressed by the fact that it's vegetarian. And I'm pretty sure there's no such place in Chicago as "Taste", other than our annual "Taste of Chicago" event.

                  OTOH Jam does a mighty fine job and is worth checking out. So is Orange, which offers a couple of unique features, such as their themed pancake "flights" and their design-your-own custom fresh juice blends. Toast and Over Easy are pretty darn good too. And Lula deserves mention as well. The first three - Bongo Room, M. Henry, and Walker Brothers/Original Pancake House - are easily the top three breakfast places in the city, head and shoulders above the others. But if I had to name a top ten, then Jam, Orange, Toast, Over Easy, and Lula would be in there as well.

                  I haven't been to the Breakfast Club, but getting mentioned alongside the Original Pancake House immediately gets my attention (thanks, achoo!). I also haven't been to Tweet or Feast.

                  Incidentally, I've been working my way through the Chicago Tribune's list of the best French Toast in town. The article is reasonably accurate, and Jerry's, which is unfortunately also in the suburbs, really is the best, although it's not open for breakfast so it's really not a breakfast place. You can find the article at http://chicago.metromix.com/restaurants/essay_photo_gallery/fabulous-french-toast/1701149/content

                  Over the past few years I've posted detailed reports on some of these places in the brunch topic at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364403

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nsxtasy
                    s
                    showmechicago Sep 7, 2010 02:04 PM

                    Bongo Room is probably my favorite--and M. Henry is on my probable list. Haven't gotten to Lula yet because the wait time has been longer than I had on my two attempts to eat there. Will definitely have to make the time to go back and wait to be served. I wii check out the French Toast article and your brunch post. For better or worst, I have promised to post my list tomorrow. Thanks for your help and suggestions.

                    -----
                    Bongo Room
                    1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

                  2. s
                    Shaggy Sep 7, 2010 12:50 PM

                    Tweet is probably my favorite. Besides the food being exceptional, the decor is strange and fun, and the staff is incredibly friendly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Shaggy
                      s
                      showmechicago Sep 7, 2010 01:56 PM

                      Tweet is another good one--it is really hard to just pick ten.

                    2. a
                      achoo Sep 7, 2010 11:40 AM

                      I know some people will groan, but The Original Pancake House on Bellevue in the heart of the Gold Coast is still my top choice after all of these years. The Dutch Baby, a delicious lemon pancake, remains my favorite even after trying all of the new "Hot Spots". Plus it's in the Gold Coast which is a great walking neighborhood.
                      My second favorite is The Breakfast Club on West Hubbard- but not a great walking around location.

                      -----
                      Breakfast Club
                      1381 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60642

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: achoo
                        s
                        showmechicago Sep 7, 2010 01:55 PM

                        I have been considering The Breakfast Club--but probably not the Original Pancake House as it is part of a chain but I too have had some decent meals there. Thanks for your input.

                        1. re: achoo
                          h
                          Harry Niletti Sep 7, 2010 02:40 PM

                          I used to live about 100 feet from the OPH on Bellevue and ate there frequently. Compared to OPH's around the country, it's ... middlin' -- but that means it's better than about 85% of all breakfast places I've eaten at (in Chicago and elsewhere). Compared to the original OPH in Portland, Oregon, or the Walker Bros. OPH's in the North and Northwest suburbs (especially Wilmette), the Bellevue location is lacking in service, which is still decent, however, and in atmosphere, and the food is a clear notch down but still very good. In my opinion -- on food alone -- it's much better than Lou Mitchell's and better than Ann Sather's, although both of those two are very good, and I would often choose one of them for other reasons.

                          1. re: Harry Niletti
                            nsxtasy Sep 7, 2010 03:04 PM

                            I agree. FWIW, I've eaten in the Original Pancake House all over the country; it's my go-to breakfast place in my travels. I've eaten at a few that are downright dreadful (including San Jose, California, and suburban Milwaukee) and others that are very good indeed, including the ones here in Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast, as you note. I went to their original location in Portland and thought it was just okay, about average for the chain.

                            1. re: nsxtasy
                              h
                              Harry Niletti Sep 7, 2010 04:04 PM

                              I've gone to the Portland OPH five or six times and rate it somewhat higher than you do, nsxtasy, but it's not at the same level as Walker Bros. in Wilmette. However, there's something exciting about being at the original Original if you're an OPH devotee. By the way, if your travels take you to San Diego, avoid the pseudo-OPH Richard Walker's Pancake House. I haven't been to his two places in the Chicago suburbs, but I went to the SD location recently, because Richard is a member of the famed Walker family. The food was below general OPH standards -- not to mention Walker Bros. standards -- and the service was inhospitable (though not actually rude).

                              1. re: Harry Niletti
                                nsxtasy Sep 7, 2010 05:09 PM

                                Thanks! However, you're too late for the warning about Richard Walker's; I've been to the one in Schaumburg (and I agree with your assessment about the food, the service was okay though).

                              2. re: nsxtasy
                                h
                                Harry Niletti Sep 8, 2010 03:32 AM

                                BTW, anyone interested in the Original Pancake House who travels extensively might want to catch the old thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/324810

                                1. re: Harry Niletti
                                  nsxtasy Sep 8, 2010 05:54 AM

                                  Thanks! I was not aware of that, since I don't usually browse the Chains forum. I'll go post there.

                            2. re: achoo
                              ellenost Sep 13, 2010 02:27 PM

                              My sister and I are from NYC, and tried The Original Pancake House on Bellevue. She ordered the Dutch Baby; we both loved it!

                            3. b
                              beanbreath Sep 7, 2010 11:07 AM

                              As much as I hate to spoil it, it's been spoiled already; i.e. those in the know know and this place is packed most of the time:

                              Victory's Banner
                              http://www.victorysbanner.com/

                              You could also include:

                              Ina's
                              http://breakfastqueen.com/

                              though I've never been particularly impressed.

                              Please avoid Orange, Feast and the rest of the trend hoppers.

                              Mindy Segal's Hot Chocolate:
                              http://www.hotchocolatechicago.com/

                              probably deserves a mention.

                              Good luck with the article and have fun.

                              -----
                              Victory's Banner Restaurant
                              2100 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618

                              Hot Chocolate
                              1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: beanbreath
                                s
                                showmechicago Sep 7, 2010 01:47 PM

                                Thanks--I've never heard of Victory's Banner but will check it out. I kind of feel the same way you do about Ina's but did like Feast--and also like Hot Chocolate--maybe should consider it for my top ten. Very helpful.

                                -----
                                Victory's Banner Restaurant
                                2100 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618

                                1. re: beanbreath
                                  f
                                  ferret Sep 7, 2010 03:42 PM

                                  Tweet, Bongo Room, M. Henry and Victory's Banner are solid performers - never a bad experience, and we eat breakfast out a lot.

                                  Orange and Ann Sather's are hit-or-miss. I've been disappointed more than once at each.

                                  Lou Mitchell's is great if you happen to be time-traveling to 1978 (and that's not a reference to some trendy kitsch quality, it's saying that about 30 years ago it was a good standard - falls flat today).

                                  -----
                                  Bongo Room
                                  1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

                                  Victory's Banner Restaurant
                                  2100 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618

                                  Lou Mitchell's Restaurant
                                  565 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60661

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