If you’re the kind of person who gets giddy the night before about breakfast and that first sip of coffee the next day, this list is your breakfast bible.
Daley’s Restaurant has been at it since 1892 and you won’t find Belgian Waffles with pork chops or chicken wings at those fancy downtown places selling $6 coffee concoctions. Speaking of the South Side, Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles is the real deal in soul food breakfast (with a second location in Oak Park).
Yolk, a local success story that began in the South Loop in 2006 and now boasts seven more outposts in Chicago, welcomes kids to instill a love of having breakfast out. Cupitol, in Evanston and Streeterville, (and soon-to-be in the West Loop) shines in the breakfast pastries department (but the menu is extensive with all your breakfast faves) and for southern breakfast, a la North Carolina, Kentucky or New Orleans, get to Wishbone in the West Loop – bring your pup to the outdoor patio, too. New to the list, Batter & Berries offers homemade breakfast and brunch that’s full of flavor plus fun, friendly service.
Goddess and the Baker is a fast-casual cafe near Chicago attractions that’s good for families with kids and neighborhood coffeehouse and eatery, Beatrix, defines the new healthy. The hottest items filling breakfast menus these days include chilaquiles, chicken and waffles, soft buttery biscuits served as sandwiches or crowned with spicy sausage gravy and the ubiquitous avocado toast still has tons of fans.
The first Yolk opened in the South Loop in 2006 and has added six more outposts in Chicago as well as others in Indiana and Texas. The appeal appears to be fresh food, large portions and reasonable prices. What’s not to love?
Yolk is known for its many versions of Eggs Benedicts (try the Caprese or pot roast version) but also for pancakes, omelets and create-your-own scramblers. Fan favorites include chilaquiles verde, West Coast crepes, Red Velvet French Toast, loaded baked potato cakes and Nutty Monkey Cakes.
The menu changes twice a year and there are limited time offerings such as a Pancake of the Month. Little noshers can enjoy challah French toast strips, Oreo pancakes and various combinations of eggs and pancakes.
All eight locations offer an elevated coffee program featuring handcrafted espresso drinks and homemade syrups like Sweet Flower and Pecan Pie.
Recommended for Breakfast because: One of the most popular breakfast restaurants in Chicago, Yolk breaks it open for every taste.
Jacky’s expert tip: The Yolk Test Kitchen in Bucktown lets you test new and potential menu items and experiment with coffee blends.
Cupitol is an all-day eatery located in Streeterville and Evanston that serves just what you crave after the sun rises. Choose various breakfast sandwiches and protein breakfasts like housemade corned beef hash poached eggs; a deliciously sloppy country Benedict with buttermilk biscuits, pork sausage gravy, eggs; and a European Breakfast with the thickest Greek yogurt you’ve ever witnessed, sprinkled with homemade almond granola, berries and local raw honey.
Pancakes and Belgian waffles are made with a proprietary mix. Cupitol shines with in-house bakery made croissant, muffins, scones and sweet rolls of all kinds. Expect lovely tarts, macaroons and financiers in the display case or try a slab of handmade phllyo dough Greek pie.
Savor espresso drinks, specialty coffees, organic cold pressed juices or even a cocktail.
There’s outdoor seating from April to the first freeze! Look for a new West Loop location coming May, 2021.
Recommended for Breakfast because: The varied continental menu and housemade pastries are drop dead delish.
Jacky’s expert tip: Your joe is an award-winning blend from Greece that you can only get at Cupitol in North America.
This Andersonville neighborhood favorite is beloved for its new American-style breakfasts, fresh bakery, charming setting, and its use of locally sourced and organic food.
While other breakfast menus are serving the obligatory eggs and avocado toast, spring and summer at m.henry brings a dandelion, shallot, and leek omelette; blackberry bliss cakes; Fannie’s killer fried egg sandwich; “veritable vegan epiphany” with scrambled organic tofu, rapini, sweet onions served with tempeh strips or veggie sausage, sliced avocado, a petite fruit salad or house potatoes. The flavors of fall are revealed in items like Sweet Potato Flapjacks w/Apple Cider Syrup; Rustic Peasant Quiche; and Pumpkin Pecan Hotcakes w/maple mascarpone, among many others. Bestsellers any kind of Blisscakes.
Coming for brunch? m.henry is BYOB.
Recommended for Breakfast because: A longtime neighborhood favorite, m.henry may be the model breakfast and brunch eatery serving globally inspired spins.
Jacky’s expert tip: The sweet neighborhood cafe/bakery/market also offers fantastic vegetarian and vegan breakfast and lunch items throughout the week (7a.m.-2:30 p.m.)
The Bronzeville spot debuted in 2008 (with a second location in Oak Park in 2010) and owner Tonya Johnson’s aim is to “serve food that takes you back to the good ole’ days when your grandmother would be in the kitchen, waking up the entire house with the aroma of a homemade breakfast.” Everything is freshly made with nary a frozen nor canned item in the place.
Chicken and Waffles originated in the South and became popular in Harlem in the 1930s. Johnson has her own special waffle mix with secret ingredients and the chicken is cooked in a cast iron skillet. Some rave about the five-egg omelets offered in variations like chicken sausage and veggie, escorted by homemade home fries, smothered in bell peppers and onions, or the signature waffle.
You can also order homemade macaroni ‘n’ cheese, greens, candied yams, fried catfish and homemade cornbread at 9 a.m.!
Recommended for Breakfast because: The family-friendly, casual eateries serve flavorful, generous homemade breakfast dishes that play a Southern tune on your tastebuds.
Jacky’s expert tip: Try one of the signature skillets, catfish ‘n’ waffles or anything with old fashioned country style grits.
Known for Chef Ken L. Polk’s popular “French Toast Flight,” Batter & Berries is a happy place filled with breakfast fans loving their morning meal. It’s all fresh (you can spy them shredding the potatoes for the luscious cheese-crusted hash browns) from the handmade buttermilk and herb biscuits to sweet potato waffles stuffed with bits of fried chicken. Even sausages are hand made from locally sourced poultry and Maple Leaf Farms Pork,
French toast fiends can’t pass up the flight that includes samples of strawberry, lemon, blueberry and caramel batter dipped brioche French toast. Specials can make your decision especially difficult: lobster Benedict with lemon aioli; lump crab omelette; or Impossible breakfast wrap are just some of the possibilities. Ask for the homemade hot sauce to spice up your plate. Staff is friendly, coffee is robust – what more could you ask for? What’s that tune? It’s classic Chicago House Music, the only music played at B & B.
Look for another Batter & Berries’ location when you’re in the South Loop.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Batter & Berries offers homemade breakfast and brunch that’s full of flavor plus fun, friendly service.
Jacky’s expert tip: Batter & Berries does not take reservations but you can ask to be put on the waitlist.
John Daley, an Irish ironworker who came to Chicago to work on building the elevated line, saw a need for a restaurant to feed all the men constructing the University of Chicago, The World’s Columbian Exposition and the Rapid Transit Line. More than 100 years later, hungry diners are delighting the “famous” club breakfast ordered by the number. The Number 1 is an egg with your choice of meat (including sausage, bacon, salt pork, chopped steak, hot links, smoked ham or a well-seasoned salmon patty) plus toast or biscuits. Order pancakes, waffles or French toast with chicken wings and hot sauce if you like or how about liver, catfish or pork chops with your eggs sided with grits, hash browns or rice? There are skillets, omelets and breakfast sandwiches still prepared to fill up a construction worker.
Recommended for Breakfast because: It’s not all about the north side: Daley’s in Woodlawn offers a hearty old fashioned breakfast that fills you ’til dinner.
Jacky’s expert tip: Even choosing bread is a dilemma. Will it be Daley’s Famous Homemade Biscuits; white; wheat; rye; Greek toast; marble rye; English muffin; or a bagel?
Count on all of the Kanela locations, Andersonville, Lakeview, Old Town, Wicker Park and Streeterville, to be just as impressive as the next. All Kanela locations feature a warm and cozy ambiance amid the zeal of the kitchen and waitstaff turning out indulgent as well as healthy meals made from scratch in-house with lots of local and organic ingredients..
Luscious sweet options include lemon blueberry pancakes; red velvet French toast, monkey bread and Greek doughnuts with honey and toasted walnuts. The savory side is extensive from a rich Crb Cake Benedict to zippy chorizo with eggs and inventive omelets like one with spicy whipped feta, red onion and tomato. Those who are still hanging in with their yearly resolutions will go for chia pudding, acai bowls, oatmeal and any of the many juice combos. Sip La Colombe coffee, smoothies, healthy juices, Bloody Marys and Mimosas, too.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Serving some of the freshest breakfast fare in Chicago, Kanela works for everyone from the hungover to the health nut.
Jacky’s expert tip: Pastries baked in-house include muffins, traditional Greek Diples (pastries with honey) and other inspired options.
Wishbone, a family owned, independent restaurant, has been cooking southern style, made-from-scratch comfort food for more than 30 years. You can get bacon and eggs anywhere but Wishbone’s Shrimp & Grits, Blackened Catfish, Jambalaya Omelette, Chicken Andouille Hash and homemade biscuits in pork sausage gravy will wake up your neurons and digestion. There aren’t many places in the Midwest offering signature cornmeal pancakes made with sweet corn and scallions with roasted red pepper sauce plus two eggs. The Louisiana Bowl will take you to NOLA via red beans over rice dappled with chicken andouille sausage, two eggs any style and corn muffin, toast or biscuit. Black Bean Cakes and Buckwheat Pancakes are popular with vegetarians and vegans and everyone appreciates the affordable prices and friendly service. There’s good coffee and a full bar with unique breakfast/brunch beverages. Look for the early bird special to resume when downtown gets busy again.
Recommended for Breakfast because: The West Loop’s Wishbone serves southern style, made-from-scratch breakfasts from fried catfish and grits to straight up bacon and eggs.
Jacky’s expert tip: If you like breakfast, return for lunch, dinner or Happy Hour food and drink specials.
The coffeehouse-meets-restaurant concept is known for healthy meets delicious menu specials, fresh-squeezed juices and an appealing coffee and pastry counter.
Launch tropically with mango, orange and pineapple nectar; seriously healthy with Power Greens; or happily via an orange or blue Mimosa or a spicy Bloody. Coffee, including “bulletproof,” is exceptional. The menu offers plenty for the diet conscious including ten-grain oatmeal, Greek yogurt and berries and egg white omelettes stuffed with good-for-you produce like red onion, sweet grape tomatoes and avocado. Looking for more flavor? Go with steak chimichurri and eggs; spicy chicken tinga; or shakshouka. Light and fluffy lemon pancakes satisfy the sweeter folks and you’ll be thrilled with the housemade lemony syrup. Pastries are fresh and go way beyond muffins and croissants – plus there are gluten-free options.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Beatrix stocks everything good for breakfast: healthy menu items; spicy, trendy dishes; fresh-squeezed juices; and an appealing coffee and pastry counter.
Jacky’s expert tip: Located in River North, Streeterville, Fulton Market, Oakbrook and a grab-and-go market in the Loop, Beatrix offers convenient extended breakfast hours weekdays until 11:30 a.m.
Just a few minutes from Millennium Park (and other locations in the Loop and River North), Goddess and The Baker is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert all day.
The River North location is a conveniently quick stroll from countless hotels and attractions, too. Cast your eyes on the impressive roster of morning eye openers: Vietnamese cold brew; black honey almond matcha latte; apple butter oat latte; detox tea; ginger pineapple tonic; immunity shots; liquid chocolate drinks; plus sturdy javas and teas. Couple one of those with a punch of protein in a steak, eggs and quinoa bowl; an Impossible breakfast sandwich; classic shakshuka; and various waffles and omelettes. If you’ve been a good girl or boy and opted for an açai blended with fresh fruit bowl, study the pastry display to reward your virtue: rainbow cake, cupcakes, muffins, macaron cookies, jars of sweetness, pastries, bars and brownies.
Recommended for Breakfast because: Count on a cheerful, welcoming space with tempting pastries, inventive morning drinks and really good breakfast fare.
Jacky’s expert tip: Goddess and the Baker is a fast-casual cafe near Chicago attractions and good for families with kids.