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Apr 29, 2012 07:25 PM

Upscale Diners

Hey Chow Hound friends,

I am the owner of a wine bar and a food truck in Calgary. My chef and I are hitting your town for 4 days in May (17 to 20) to eat and research a new upscale diner project we are working on. We would love a little local insight and any recommendations you might have.

We are staying at the Westin River North, but are willing to travel anywhere in Chicago to see and eat at the right places. We hope to eat at at least 12 to 15 breakfast places in our short stay.

We‘re looking for classic, been around forever diners, as well as new concepts that take a twist on the old school and use high end ingredients, chef driven menus, design, etc...
Hipper places that are more evening focused but do a great brunch would also be of interest.

We‘ve done a little research and here is our current list of possible places......

Delish Diner
Eleven City Diner
Bongo Room

What do you think?

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  1. M. Henry (daily but they have more specials on the weekend)
    Lula Cafe (same, but the more creative dishes are only on weekends)
    Southport Grocery (daily, try the sweet and savory French toast)
    Longman & Eagle (daily, try the duck egg hash)
    Jam (cash only, closed Tuesdays, try the pink peppercorn French toast, eggs Benedict)
    Bleeding Heart Bakery Cafe (daily, try the doughnut breakfast sandwich)
    2 Sparrows (daily, see the special homemade pop tart section of the menu)
    The Publican (weekend, note that Saturday menu is different from the Sunday)
    Big Jones (weekend)

    Of the ones I listed only The Publican and Big Jones take reservations.

    Lines can get long for a lot of these options on weekends.

    1. Of your list, the only one worth your time is the Bongo Room. No lines during the week, but expect waits upwards of an hour on weekends. Kathryn's list is much more interesting.

      2 Replies
      1. re: chicgail

        I agree with this assessment.

        Another to add to your list. American Depot Diner. You'll need a car, but the pot roast sandwich is one of the best sandwiches in Chicago. It's a fairly new spot that specializes in well-done versions of old classics. Call ahead to make sure they're open if/when you decide to go.

        Lou Mitchell's (on Jackson) mentioned below is an old classic, and like some old classics they can be very uneven, but if they're on you'll have a memorable breakfast. Be sure to order something with eggs ( their feta omelets can be top-notch.)

        1. re: chicgail

          Generally agree with chicgail, but Eggy's actually looks intreresting as well. Just opened, it's a "reimagining of a classic Chicago Diner" by the same team behind Custom House (a solid upscale-ish spot in the South Loop):

        2. Glenn's Diner for some fanastic fish. Easy to get to off the brown line.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lbs

            I'll second Glenn's for breakfast anytime plus an upscale twist.

          2. It's a stretch to call Au Cheval a diner as it bills itself but it is truly a unique concept. Not open for breakfast and more of a late night/dinner spot. It takes a twist on the old school and uses high end ingredients with a chef driven menu. This place is fantastic by the way.

            1. Sending you in couple of different directions, Ina's on Randolph is a home-cooking kind of place with great breakfast/lunch. Tweet in Uptown has a funky, artsy vibe, great organic food and lots of vegetarian options.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ferret

                lou mitchells on jackson blvd
                double yolk eggs and eggscellent omelets and great coffee

                1. re: seminole phil

                  Thanks Kathryn! and everyone else.
                  That‘s a great list already.
                  We‘ll do our best to hit them all and report back.
                  Much appreciated.