Jam

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

M. Henry

5707 N. Clark | 773-561-1600

$

AMERICAN, BREAKFAST | 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. 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 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. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Nana

3267 S. Halsted | 312-929-2486

$

BREAKFAST, VEGETARIAN/HEALTHY | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS | SATURDAY & SUNDAY BRUNCH | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

Cafe 28 pastry chef Maria Solis (aka Nana) and her sons, Omar and Christian, preside over this genuinely friendly, slightly crunchy upscale diner. Menu selections include a breakfast burger crowned with a runny egg and smeared with aioli and the “Nanadict,” two cheese-stuffed pupusas topped with poached eggs and house-made chorizo in poblano sauce, a colorful and creative take on the standard. Banana-hemp buckwheat pancakes (see “crunchy”) were remarkably light and airy. Soyrizo is a surprisingly successful vegetarian alternative to the real thing, and we also enjoyed the mascarpone-stuffed French toast. —David Hammond

Orange

3231 N. Clark | 773-549-4400

$

GLOBAL/FUSION/ECLECTIC | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS | 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. The latest Orange, in River North at 738 N. Clark, is also BYO. —Laura Levy Shatkin

Over Easy

4943 N. Damen | 773-506-2605

$

AMERICAN, BREAKFAST | BREAKFAST, lunch: TUESDAY-SunDAY | CLOSED MONDAY | BYO | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

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. The space is bright and playful: near the entrance five wires strung with white wooden eggs run from the floor to the orangish red tin ceiling, and there’s a “wall of eggs” in the back. —Anne Ford

Pannenkoeken Cafe

4757 N. Western | 773-769-8800

$

EUROPEAN, BREAKFAST | BREAKFAST, LUNCH: SUNDAY-MONDAY, WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED TUESDAY | BYO | RESERVATIONS FOR LARGE GROUPS ONLY

Linda Ellis, owner of this tiny Lincoln Square cafe, fell in love with Holland on her first trip in 2000—the bikes, the easy pace, the friendly people. And she got hooked on pannenkoeken, the large, thin, crispy-edged Dutch pancakes—so much so that she apprenticed herself to a gruff elderly master of the art. The initial result was a tightly compressed menu: a few egg dishes, regular buttermilk pancakes, and three pannenkoeken (apple, chocolate-banana, and bacon and Havarti). “I wanted to start small,” Ellis says. “I wanted to be able to control what we do qualitywise.” These days, with the help of her daughters, Ellis has expanded her pannenkoeken repertoire to a dozen, offering combos such as raisin and ginger marmalade, apple and ginger, ham and cheese, and bacon, cheese, and mushroom. There’s a second location at 2257 W. North. —Mike Sula

Yolk

1120 S. Michigan | 312-789-9655

$

AMERICAN, BREAKFAST | 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 second location in River North at 747 N. Wells. —Kathie Bergquist