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Bananas Foster Cafe
1147 W. Granville | 773-262-9855
$$
AMERICAN, ENGLISH/IRISH/SCOTTISH | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: MONDAY-FRIDAY; DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH

Housed in a small corner space by the Granville Red Line stop, Bananas Foster Cafe seems to be filling 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. An English influence shows up in the lunch and dinner offerings as well, which include not just shepherd's pie but also fisherman's pie, bangers and mash, and steak, mushrooms, and ale pie. 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. —Kate Schmidt


Bongo Room
1470 N. Milwaukee | 773-489-0690
$
GLOBAL/FUSION/ECLECTIC | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: MONDAY-FRIDAY | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH

"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. The bustling pace and blaring music will not be everyone's cup of tea; you could always try the other location, at 1152 S. Wabash. —Laura Levy Shatkin


Breakfast Club
1381 W. Hubbard | 312-666-2372
$
BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS | CASH ONLY

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. Service is generally prompt and accommodating. Reservations not accepted Sundays. —Martha Bayne


CJ's Eatery
3839 W. Grand | 773-292-0990
$
AMERICAN, SOUTHERN/SOUL FOOD, MEXICAN/SOUTHWESTERN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: THURSDAY-SUNDAY | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH

Bright, spacious, and friendly CJ's Eatery might do for west Humboldt Park what the original Wishbone did for another desolate stretch of Grand Avenue in the 90s: grow into a vital community hub while serving solid southern and soul-inspired comfort food. Charles Armstead and Vanessa Perez have filled a couple deep voids already, providing a Lavazza-dispensing coffee bar and sit-down table service for three squares in a neighborhood where the only other viable eats are at Jimmy's Red Hots around the corner. Breakfast choices include mouthwatering biscuits and gravy and a hangover-blanketing sausage casserole. Sandwiches predominate at lunch, along with soups, salads, and a handful of appetizers (crab cakes, spinach dip) that pull a double shift at dinner. Entrees include a "BBQ Meatloaf Tower" crowned with mashed potatoes and fried onions. And Armstead's banana bread pudding with peanut butter creme anglaise could've raised Elvis off the bathroom floor. —Mike Sula


Curio Cafe
3400 N. Lawndale | 773-463-2233
$
AMERICAN, 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, but the clincher is the communal kids' table and play area. Still, 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, refried black beans, a square of salty queso fresco, sweet fried plantains, and warm tortillas. A savory Spanish omelet incorporates serrano ham, Spanish chorizo, red onion, and red pepper, but you can choose from these and many more high-quality ingredients to build your own. —Kiki Yablon


Flo
1434 W. Chicago | 312-243-0477
$$
AMERICAN, MEXICAN/SOUTHWESTERN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: TUESDAY-FRIDAY; DINNER: TUESDAY-SUNDAY | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 11 | CLOSED MONDAY

A neighborhood favorite thanks to affordable prices, inventive but down-to-earth cuisine, and a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere. The menu offers big flavors in familiar dishes: at breakfast (which is popular here) the egg sandwich is served with roasted red peppers and spinach, and stacks of buttermilk pancakes are covered with bananas and chocolate. Weekend brunch adds dishes like eggs Flo (brioche topped with smoked turkey, spinach, and poached eggs) and bolsillos (breakfast tacos with eggs and grilled veggies) to the mix. Dinner and lunch items continue in a Mexican vein: enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos. —Laura Levy Shatkin


Flying Saucer
1123 N. California | 773-342-9076
$
AMERICAN, VEGETARIAN/HEALTHY | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS | BYO | CASH ONLY

Weekend breakfast is the most popular meal at this cozy Humboldt Park breakfast-and-lunch spot, though the menu offers mostly standards: eggs, over-the-top pancakes or French toast, plus a few Mexican-influenced dishes like the huevos volando—eggs with tortillas, black beans, cheese, guajillo sauce, and pico de gallo. Lunch brings salads, sandwiches, and several vegetarian and vegan options. —Laura Levy Shatkin


Hashbrowns
731 W. Maxwell | 312-226-8000
$
AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS

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


Ina's
1235 W. Randolph | 312-226-8227
$$
AMERICAN | BREAKFAST: SEVEN DAYS; LUNCH: MONDAY-SATURDAY; DINNER: TUESDAY-SATURDAY

At Ina Pinkney's cheerful namesake restaurant, brick walls are brightened with salmon trim and aqua wainscoting and tables are topped with white butcher paper and salt-and-pepper shakers from Pinkney's eclectic collection. Entrees are comfort-food favorites like fried chicken, chicken potpie, and meat loaf; there's also a BLT with avocado and a grilled cheese with Gruyere and Swiss. The breakfast menu includes scrapple with black beans and corn, four kinds of pancakes, homemade granola with dried cranberries, omelets with potatoes, and a vegetable hash. The bread comes fresh from Labriola, the coffee from Intelligentsia. Perhaps best of all, the place is a cell-phone-free zone. —Laura Levy Shatkin


Lou Mitchell's
565 W. Jackson | 312- 939-3111
$
BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

Still the downtown breakfast spot, the place to go for a big, cheesy, perfectly cooked omelet with crispy hash browns and thick slabs of toast. There's often a line at the door, but the complimentary Milk Duds and doughnut holes make the wait tolerable. Curiously, the coffee revolution seems to have passed Lou's by. —Laura Levy Shatkin


M. Henry
5707 N. Clark | 773- 561-1600
$
AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: TUESDAY-SATURDAY | SUNDAY BRUNCH | CLOSED MONDAY | BYO | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

This charming cafe from partners Michael Moorman and Jorge Aviles offers an eclectic selection of breakfast, brunch, and lunch dishes featuring natural ingredients and house-baked breads. There's a turkey sandwich with walnut pesto and cranberry sauce, a miso-glazed veggie burger, a Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich, a veggie Dagwood, and five others, along with nourishing "peasant bowls" with beans, noodles, organic rice, and veggies. Breakfast and brunch entrees are more interesting: a dish called Vegan Epiphany is organic tofu scrambled with red and green peppers, onions, and yuba (a baconlike soy product), while Dulce Banana Rumba is thick-cut brioche French toast with warm bananas, rum, golden raisins, and pecans. Pancakes come with either pomegranate or maple syrup or layered with blackberry compote and vanilla mascarpone and topped with a brown-sugar-and-oat crust. Prices are reasonable, and the staff is friendly and eager to accommodate. An attached patisserie offers breads, focaccia and other savories, and an array of tempting-looking treats for takeout; it's open till 4 PM. —Laura Levy Shatkin


Noon Hour Grill
6930 N. Glenwood | 773-338-9494
$
AMERICAN, ASIAN, KOREAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED TUESDAY | BYO | CASH ONLY

A small breakfast-and-lunch spot manned single-handedly by grill veteran Susie Lee, Noon Hour Grill offers an appealing mix of Korean standards and American breakfast fare. Omelets range from bulgogi and kimchi to bologna and cheese to ginger, garlic, and carrot, a new favorite of ours; all come with toast and golden hash browns (you can substitute rice). We can never resist the pajun (Korean pancake), light, savory, and served with a homemade jalapeño soy sauce. Susie's bi bim bop is famous in the neighborhood (she ran a restaurant in Rogers Park before relocating to Irving Park Road for a number of years), and while the rice crust wasn't as crispy as the best I've had and the fried egg could have been runnier, it was satisfying, down-home comfort food. —Kate Schmidt


Orange
3231 N. Clark | 773-549-4400
$
GLOBAL/FUSION/ECLECTIC | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | BYO | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Orange lives up to its name: rows of oranges behind the counter wait to be squeezed by the order, coffee is flavored with essence of orange, and the restaurant's sign is on an orange crate in the large front window. The menu is full of whimsical surprises: coconut-milk-soaked French toast kebabs skewered with fruit; the Jelly Doughnut Pancake (a Swedish pancake filled with a different jelly every week); and Green Eggs and Ham (three eggs scrambled with pesto, roasted tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella). Combine the juice bar and the BYO policy and you've also got the makings of a mean mimosa or Bloody Mary. There are additional locations in Lincoln Park and Roscoe Village, plus a new one on the near west side. —Laura Levy Shatkin


Over Easy
4943 N. Damen | 773-506-2605
$
AMERICAN | BREAKFAST: TUESDAY-SATURDAY; | LUNCH: SUNDAY, TUESDAY-SATURDAY | SUNDAY BRUNCH | CLOSED MONDAY | BYO

At this cozy breakfast-and-lunch spot chef Jon Cignarale works hard to keep things interesting, changing the brunch and specials menu weekly. Offerings have included a corn pancake with red pepper coulis and sour cream, souffles, and fried bologna with "frazzled" eggs and a spicy maple mustard; standbys on the regular breakfast menu include "sassy eggs," served with chorizo-potato hash, cheddar cheese, red peppers, jalapeños, and guacamole, and Emily's Dream Pancakes, with blackberries, orange butter, and raspberry coulis. At lunch there are sandwiches, salads, and burgers. —Anne Ford


Patty's Diner
3358 Main, Skokie | 847-675-4274
$
BREAKFAST, AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SUNDAY, TUESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED MONDAY | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED | CASH ONLY

Patty's Diner is the type of place everyone wishes was in his neighborhood. Locals fuel up on bountiful breakfasts of picture-perfect eggs, heaps of home fries, plump sausages, crisp bacon, fluffy pancakes, and, best of all, griddled salty-sweet ham cut directly from the bone. Biscuits and gravy with potatoes is popular, as is the tasty corned beef hash, but if you ask me, ham hash paired with two eggs over easy is the brass ring. The off-menu "old potatoes" are home fries given a second seasoning and deep-fried crisp. At lunch nicely charred coarse-ground hand-formed burgers come on a bakery bun. Daily specials come with bread and house-made soup; I love the soul-satisfying beef barley. Meat loaf and beef stew also satisfy, but don't miss the Wednesday turkey special: roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, veg, and gravy—old-school comfort food done right. —Gary Wiviott


Toast
746 W. Webster | 773-935-5600
$
AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: MONDAY-FRIDAY | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

A cozy little shoe box of a place serving up some of the best breakfast (and lunch) vittles in town. Open daily from 8 AM to 3 PM (8 to 4 on weekends), the joint gets packed and waits can be long, so you'd best bring your patience. But bring your appetite too—portions are enormous. Omelets are huge affairs, filled with cheese and vegetables; sandwiches are titanic. Everything is fresh and perfectly cooked. Don't neglect the signature dish, French toast stuffed with strawberry puree or mascarpone. It's worth waiting until tomorrow to start that diet. There's a second location at 2046 N. Damen (773-772-5600). —Lauren Brooks


Tre Kronor
3258 W. Foster | 773-267-9888
$$
SWEDISH | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS; DINNER: MONDAY-SATURDAY | BYO

Every morning the kitchen at Tre Kronor turns out their legendary Danish, cinnamon rolls, and a number of cheese-filled omelets, each packing enough points to top out your Weight Watchers quota for the day. Most of the foods are of Scandinavian stock, though there's one quisling burger on the lunch menu; other offerings include quiche and Norwegian meatballs on limpa bread. Tre Kronor's herring, made in-house, is a superbly moist and meaty version, and Swedish meatballs here are light, delicate, and deliciously dressed with sweet-tart lingonberry sauce. In line with the robust Viking tradition, you won't find a salad here without cheese or bacon or both; the menu is full of the kind of fortifying food you'd want to eat before heading out to herd reindeer or invade your southern neighbors. There's backyard seating under a canopy of trees, and across the street a shop offering Swedish housewares. —David Hammond


Victory's Banner
2100 W. Roscoe | 773-665-0227
$
VEGETARIAN/HEALTHY | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED TUESDAY | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Victory's Banner is one of the best breakfast houses in Chicago, period; the owner told me he learned how to make his omelets from the immortal Lou Mitchell himself. Satisfaction Promise is a scrambled-egg dish with spinach, pesto, sun-dried tomato, and feta. But the killer is the French toast, in a batter made with cream and orange marmalade, served with peach butter and real maple syrup. There are also pancakes, waffles, and uppuma (an Indian hot cereal). Lunch items include homemade soups, salads, and wraps. The restaurant is owned by a student of meditation master Sri Chinmoy, and the menu says that it exists for one reason: to give joy. I think they've succeeded. —Jeff Kolton


Yolk
1120 S. Michigan | 312-789-9655
$
AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS | BYO | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

Perhaps self-evidently, the specialty at this sunny South Loop breakfast-and-lunch spot is eggs, offered in several different Benedict styles (for example, there's an Irish Benny topped with corned beef hash) as well as in omelets and frittatas or served just plain old sunny-side up. I opted for a "West Coast" crepe filled with scrambled eggs, avocado, mushrooms, and cheese, and though it said "sweet crepe" right there on the menu, I still found it odd with all the other savory flavors. As for the eggs Benedict (we went for the classic version), despite the fact that it was crowded on the plate by huge chunks of fresh fruit ("Who wants fruit covered in hollandaise?" my companion asked), it was very good. In addition to egg dishes, Yolk's menu features a variety of pancakes, waffles, and French toast, as well as sandwiches and salads for the lunch crowd. The custom-roasted coffee was significantly better than typical diner swill and refilled often, and on a weekday service was friendly and prompt. There's a new second location in River North, at 747 N. Wells (312-787-2277). —Kathie Bergquist

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