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Breakfast in Chicago

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

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

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  1. 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.

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    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

      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.

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

      1. re: beanbreath

        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).

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        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

      2. 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.

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        Breakfast Club
        1381 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60642

        8 Replies
        1. re: achoo

          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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                  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

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

              2. re: achoo

                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. 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

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

                2. 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/restaura...

                  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/restauran...

                  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

                    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.

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                    Bongo Room
                    1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

                  2. 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.

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                    Bongo Room
                    1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605