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Bakin' & Eggs

3120 N. Lincoln | 773-525-7005

$

AMERICAN, BREAKFAST | breakfast: Monday-Friday; lunch: seven days | BYO | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

If bacon has officially jumped the shark, someone forgot to tell the folks behind Bakin' & Eggs (also the owners of Lovely: A Bake Shop). At this breakfast and lunch spot, you can get it on anything from a burrito to a biscuit—even the waffle involves bacon. It's a good thing it's done well, or the bacon flight might seem a little over-the-top; as it is, you'd better have either a hearty appetite or plenty of reinforcements if you plan to attack the five large rashers of jalapeño, honey, mesquite, cherry, and maple-pepper bacon. Portions are ample here, and at eight to nine bucks apiece are a good deal as entrees at moderately upscale brunch places go. Even a half order of rosemary-Parmesan drop biscuits with sausage gravy and—inevitably—a slice of bacon (available weekends only) is a reasonable-size meal in itself. —Julia Thiel

Bananas Foster Cafe

1147 W. Granville | 773-262-9855

$$

AMERICAN, BREAKFAST, ENGLISH/IRISH/SCOTTISH | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: MONDAY-FRIDAY; DINNER: thursday-saturday | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Housed in a corner space by the Granville Red Line stop, Bananas Foster Cafe seems to fill a much-needed niche in Edgewater, drawing droves that are routinely lined out the door. And I can certainly see why it's a popular neighborhood spot for brunch: though the place was packed, service was smooth, and our food—eggs Benedict with Irish back bacon and standout ham and eggs with potatoes and baked beans—was well prepared and came out promptly. I wouldn't exactly call this fine dining—it's a former coffee shop with a garish yellow awning. But so much the better these days. Lunch and dinner menus are eclectic. —Kate Schmidt

Bongo Room

1470 N. Milwaukee | 773-489-0690

$

BREAKFAST, GLOBAL/FUSION/ECLECTIC | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: MONDAY-FRIDAY | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

"It's entirely worth the wait," says one reader of this frequently jam-packed breakfast and lunch spot. The weekday menu offers what seem to be standards—pancakes, omelets, sandwiches—but the pancakes might be Oreo-banana flapjacks. The weekend brunch menu adds specials like "Chocolate Tower" French toast and variations on eggs Benedict—for example, a BLT Benedict with smoked bacon, spinach, tomatoes, and a pesto hollandaise. There's a second location at 1152 S. Wabash. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Breakfast Club

1381 W. Hubbard | 312-666-2372

$

BREAKFAST | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS

The decor is unassuming, the entryway is cramped, and the tightly packed tables are not for the claustrophobic. But the food is worth the wait and close quarters. The stuffed French toast—slabs of eggy bread layered with cream cheese and walnuts and drenched in sticky-sweet syrup—is the signature indulgence, but omelets and other breakfast staples are equally hearty and satisfying. The crowd is a mixed bag of neighborhood residents and workers from the predominantly industrial area to the south. Service is generally prompt and accommodating. Reservations not accepted Sundays. —Martha Bayne

Curio Cafe

3400 N. Lawndale | 773-463-2233

$

BREAKFAST, LATIN AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS; DINNER: FRIDAY-SATURDAY | BYO

This corner storefront has a family-friendly vibe, from its mismatched, hand-painted chairs to the La Leche League flyers on the bulletin board to the sunny quotes on the big, low blackboard; the clincher is the communal kids' table and play area. But while I was introduced to the Curio by a pal with a three-year-old, I've returned many times with a party of adults for the food, which is not only delicious but often organic, hormone free, free range, and/or fair trade. My favorite is the Guatemalan plato tipico—a plate of eggs your way, dabbed with mild red sauce and served with sliced avocados, perfectly seasoned refried black beans, a square of salty queso fresco, sweet fried plantains, and warm tortillas. Smaller breakfasts include a bacon and egg sandwich on a croissant and a pretzel bun with house-made strawberry cream cheese. And despite all the healthiness, this a place that's not afraid to put chocolate chips in stuff—be it your granola or your flapjacks. —Kiki Yablon

Eggsperience

35 W. Ontario | 312-870-6773

$

BREAKFAST, AMERICAN, BURGERS | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: 24 HOURS DAILy | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

This large River North diner, the first Chicago location of the suburban chain, is almost frighteningly cheery, decorated in buttercup yellow with touches of sky blue and grass green and enormous displays of colorful fake flowers. Open 24 hours, it focuses (as the name would suggest) on breakfasts that feature eggs, though it also offers lunch-oriented sandwiches, wraps, salads, and burgers. Portions are enormous, and everything we tried was more than decent: the pancakes were fluffy, the hash browns crispy, and the skirt steak in a "super skillet" tender and flavorful. Sweet potato fries were also a favorite. Despite the extensive menu, vegetarian options are severely limited on the lunch side of things, though the breakfast menu has several more choices. Juices are fresh squeezed and smoothies are excellent. —Julia Thiel

Hashbrowns

731 W. Maxwell | 312-226-8000

$

BREAKFAST, AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Owner Ron Ruffolo says he went to "every breakfast house in Chicago" before settling on his restaurant's name and signature dish: hash browns in five varieties, among them sweet potato, red potato with rosemary, and gussied-up versions of the traditional Idaho spud. Other breakfast options include waffles and hearty banana-wheat pancakes. But it's the omelets, named for a street or neighborhood (the Maxwell Street, the Taylor Street, the North Sider) that most reflect Ruffolo's scouring of the city; one, a six-egg behemoth called the City of Chicago, incorporates 14 ingredients, 6 of them meats. —Ryan Hubbard

Jam

937 N. Damen | 773-489-0302

$$

AMERICAN, BREAKFAST, BURGERS | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED TUESDAY | cash only

The Ukrainian Village brunch spot Jam is a radically different animal from owner Jerry Suqi's nearby Chickpea. This time it's not Suqi's Palestinian mama in the kitchen but Jeffrey Mauro, formerly of Trotter's and North Pond, and while the place is perfectly welcoming, it's the antithesis of Chickpea, with its kitchen-table vibe. Early notices touted Mauro's sous vide malt custard French toast and eggy plates fashionably loaded with pork cheeks and belly, which gave me the impression that this was going to be the sort of brunching meant for blanketing uneasy stomachs and pounding heads. And indeed Mauro's egg sandwich, a French roll with slabs of meaty braised pork cheek covered in a lava flow of egg yolk, has a restorative quality. Buckwheat crepes stuffed with braised lamb are plated with perfect spheres of Asian pear, but biscuits and gravy with satisfying chunks of rough-cut cotechhino sausage are nearly undone by a gray shiitake gravy that looks far less appetizing than it actually is. Meals start with imaginative amuses, such as intensely anise-y fennel sugar-lemon custard doughnut holes, which you can wash down with Metropolis coffee or a juice du jour. Dinner will be offered beginning April 7. —Mike Sula

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