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A spread of brunch dishes including beignets, a cinnamon bun, an omelet, coffee and orange juice.
Roux serves New Orleans-inspired breakfast all day in Hyde Park.
Neil Burger Photography

Chicago’s Essential Breakfast Spots

Start the day off right with these morning standouts

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Roux serves New Orleans-inspired breakfast all day in Hyde Park.
| Neil Burger Photography

Breakfast’s status as the most important meal is debatable, but too often it’s the day’s most overlooked dining opportunity. Though some people skip right to lunch, a plethora of Chicago restaurants provide a quality start to every morning. From longtime neighborhood favorites to newcomers dishing out sweet and savory creations, here are the city’s most outstanding breakfast spots.

Egg sandwiches are a sufficiently robust category to merit its own map, available here.

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Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club

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Chef and owner Manny Mejia, who previously worked at M. Henry and Marmalade and also owns Big Hill, turns out dishes with global influences at this North Park gem. The eclectic selection includes a Caprese omelet, blackberry and kiwi French toast, scallion pancakes with eggs and pork belly, and French toast stuffed with Canadian bacon. Expect crowds and a wait on weekends. A second outpost is located in Belmont Gardens.

Tre Kronor

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Over on the Northwest Side, Chicagoans pack this charming two-story building every day for Scandinavian comfort fare. Satiate the sweet tooth with maple pecan Danishes or cinnamon rolls before digging into cheesy omelets, Swedish pancakes with lingonberry preserves, and a plethora of sausages.

Lula Cafe

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One of the best restaurants in Chicago, Lula Cafe helped establish Logan Square as a culinary destination. Chef and owner Jason Hammel, a two-time finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes, was a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement and continues using sustainable and local ingredients in dishes like a smoked trout scramble, pork belly and grits, and a celery root and ricotta omelet. Book a table through Resy.

Nellie’s Restaurant

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Nellie’s is known for its breakfast buffet that features a mix of continental American and Puerto Rican favorites. It’s never a real visit unless customers order a bowl of coconut oatmeal (avena de coco). Gluten-free diners may find solace in the breakfast jibarito.

Michelin-starred mega hit Kasama features both daytime and dinner options from chefs and spouses Genie Kwon and Tim Flores. Their breakfast sandwich (stuffed with egg, cheese, longanisa, and hash browns) is a banger that’s developed its own following, but there’s also a classic Filipino breakfast (fried egg, garlic fried rice, and longanisa or tocino) and Kwon’s stunning laminated pastries. Lumpia is also a wonderful way to start the day. Skip the long lines by ordering ahead.

The Bongo Room

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A Chicago staple for almost three decades, the Bongo Room specializes in indulgent, over-the-top pancakes and French toasts. But if that’s too much sugar in the morning, the menu is also balanced out by eggs and sandwiches. There’s a second location in Andersonville. Place online orders here.

Honeybear Cafe

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This cozy cafe has become one of the best breakfast destinations in Rogers Park. Guests can build their own omelets, skillets, scramblers, benedicts, and more. Other house specialties include breakfast quesadillas, biscuits stuffed with andouille sausage or smothered in country gravy, and truly decadent waffle and pancake platters. Order online here.

Uncle Mike's Place

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Tired of the same old bacon and eggs? Visit this Ukrainian Village diner for homey Southeast Asian specialties. The fluffy omelets and pancakes won’t disappoint, but the most popular choices are the marinated skirt steak and the hearty Filipino breakfasts. They can be ordered with longanisa (sweet sausage), bangus (marinated milkfish), tocino (cured pork shoulder), and more. The staff also serves complimentary bowls of lugaw (rice porridge) to every patron. Online ordering is available here.

M. Henry

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Hailed as one of Chicago's top breakfast and brunch spots, M. Henry puts the focus on quality ingredients. The creative menu offers Jorge’s black bean cakes and huevos borrachos (“drunken eggs”), lemon-raspberry brioche French toast, and Fannie’s killer fried egg sandwich. There are also lots of vegan and vegetarian options. Order online here.

A plate of lemon raspberry brioche French toast.
M. Henry is an Andersonville hotspot in the mornings.
M. Henry [Official Photo]

Tiztal Cafe

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Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish and one of Chicago’s best versions is found at this small Uptown cafe. The recipe features fresh tortilla chips topped with green salsa, eggs, Chihuahua cheese, onions, cilantro, and a choice of chorizo, steak, or chicken. Omelets and creamy oatmeal milkshakes are also standouts. And there’s a lovely back patio for outdoor dining. Online ordering is available here.

A plate of steak chilaquiles.
The chilaquiles are a must-try at Tiztal Cafe.
Tiztal Cafe [Official Photo]

Stax Cafe

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Popular with UIC students and workers in the Illinois Medical District, Stax Cafe is known for its creative spins on breakfast staples. The menu boasts exciting dishes like a Monte Cristo waffle sandwich, cinnamon roll waffles, “Healthy Start” oatmeal pancakes mixed with blueberries, and prosciutto avocado benedict. There’s also a selection of cocktails so guests can pair their bites with a Bloody Mary or an old fashioned. A second Stax Cafe outpost is located in River West. Online ordering is available here.

Sweet Maple Cafe

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The University Village community hub warrants a visit for many exceptional dishes, including breakfast tacos, country scrambles, holiday French toast, home fries, and Southern-style fried catfish nuggets that are only available on Fridays.

Batter & Berries

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An adorable Lincoln Park BYOB cafe with a soul food twist, Batter & Berries is most notable for its French toast flights which offer a taste of its signature lemon, blueberry, strawberry and caramel versions. The restaurant also offers a French toast special each week, with previous iterations including Oreo or caramel corn. Other highlights include deconstructed omelets and sweet potato waffles topped with fried chicken and nutmeg hot sauce. Skip the mob-inducing brunch hours by heading over for weekday breakfast.

Wishbone

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The longtime West Loop restaurant moved from its original location in 2018 but the food hasn’t skipped a beat. The menu still leans heavily on Southern comforts, such as salmon cakes, shrimp and grits, fried catfish, and chicken andouille hash. Online ordering is available here.

Lou Mitchell's

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A Chicago icon that’s been in business for a century, Lou Mitchell's dishes out a dose of greasy spoon Americana rarely seen in the 21st century. Omelets, skillets, pancakes, waffles, and complimentary Milk Duds (yes, Milk Duds) are go-tos for regulars who stop in for a dose of old-school charm and entertaining people-watching.

A plate of chicken and waffles.
Lou Mitchell’s is an old-school diner experience.
Lou Mitchell’s [Official Photo]

Pearl's Place

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For an endless supply of Southern-style soul food, Chicagoans should make their way to Pearl’s. In addition to the a la carte menu, there’s also a buffet of breakfast comfort food, such as made-to-order omelets, waffles, grits, biscuits, mac and cheese, collard greens, fried chicken wings, and much more. It’s a bountiful spread that will keep even the biggest appetites full until dinner. Order online here.

Mini-waffles and chicken wings
Pearl’s Place is an institution in Bronzeville.
Pearl’s Place [Official Photo]

Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe

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Located right near Millennium Park, Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe is regularly packed with a mix of tourists and local workers tucking into rich plates of key lime pie pancakes, cookie dough waffles and red velvet cake french toast accompanied by fresh-squeezed orange juice and Intelligentsia coffee. Service is friendly and fast, though WiFi is available for anyone who needs to catch up on emails while they eat. Wildberry also has a location along the Magnificent Mile and suburban outposts in Libertyville and Schaumburg.

Cafecito

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Start the day with a shot or two of espresso or a sweet and creamy cafe con leche along with a breakfast sandwich made with steak, eggs, grilled onions and Cafecito’s excellent Cuban. For a more indulgent meal, dig into pancakes topped with sweet plantains and pineapple while sipping a mimosa made with guava or mango nectar. Cafecito also has locations in Lincoln Park and The Loop.

Peach's Restaurant

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Bright and airy, Peach’s Restaurant stirs the soul with Southern delights. Salmon croquettes and flaky biscuits are hits, as is the juicy and peppery fried chicken served with cinnamon French toast and honey butter. Place online orders here.

A pile of French toast topped with chopped peanuts, powdered sugar and a scoop of ice cream.
French toast from Peach’s Restaurant
Cliff Rome

Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles

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With two locations, Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles has become a soul food destination with fluffy waffles, huge portions, and family-friendly service. Choose from wings, thighs, or breasts to find the right combo. Sub in catfish, too. Not everything is fried either. There are plenty of egg dishes if diners are trying to eat healthier.

Josephine's Southern Cooking

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Josephine Wade is a mythical figure in Chicago. The namesake owner, also known as “Mother,” has run this soul food diner in Chatham for decades. She received national attention in 2019 when her South Side institution was renovated on an episode of Restaurant: Impossible. Customers can expect to find catfish, pork chops, chicken and waffles, and salmon croquettes.

Daley's Restaurant

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Chicago’s oldest restaurant — which moved across the street in 2019 — has been part delicious soul food, part time capsule, and part gathering place for nearly half the city since 1892. At breakfast, there aren’t many places in town where one can get pork chops, catfish, chicken wings, salmon patties, grilled salt pork, and other Southern comforts alongside eggs and pancakes. Online ordering is available here.

A breakfast skillet.
Daley’s is a timeless treasure for daytime dining.
Daley’s Restaurant [Official Photo]

Located near the University of Chicago, this modern counter-service diner serves a New Orleans-inspired breakfast all day long. Lillie’s Q chef Charlie McKenna is the visionary behind the menu, which explores the world of Southern cooking. Guests can start with beignets and pimento cheese, followed by staples like shrimp and grits, fried catfish, and chicken fried steak. There’s a small, curated selection of alcoholic beverages as well. Online ordering is available here.

A person preparing to cut into fried green tomato tartine.
Southern cuisine shines bright at Roux.
Neil John Burger/Roux

Plein Air Cafe

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Situated next to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House on the University of Chicago’s campus, Plein Air is a French-inspired café that provides both students and locals alike a warm and cozy environment to refuel. Head to the bright, minimalist space in the morning for pastries, breakfast sandwiches and burritos, quiches, and savory pies. Don’t forget the most important item: a hot (or cold) cup of coffee showcasing beans from artisan roasters. Online ordering is available here.

A variety of pastries and baked goods on a counter.
Plein Air Cafe brings a touch of Europe to Hyde Park.
Plein Air Cafe [Official Photo]

Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club

Chef and owner Manny Mejia, who previously worked at M. Henry and Marmalade and also owns Big Hill, turns out dishes with global influences at this North Park gem. The eclectic selection includes a Caprese omelet, blackberry and kiwi French toast, scallion pancakes with eggs and pork belly, and French toast stuffed with Canadian bacon. Expect crowds and a wait on weekends. A second outpost is located in Belmont Gardens.

Tre Kronor

Over on the Northwest Side, Chicagoans pack this charming two-story building every day for Scandinavian comfort fare. Satiate the sweet tooth with maple pecan Danishes or cinnamon rolls before digging into cheesy omelets, Swedish pancakes with lingonberry preserves, and a plethora of sausages.

Lula Cafe

One of the best restaurants in Chicago, Lula Cafe helped establish Logan Square as a culinary destination. Chef and owner Jason Hammel, a two-time finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes, was a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement and continues using sustainable and local ingredients in dishes like a smoked trout scramble, pork belly and grits, and a celery root and ricotta omelet. Book a table through Resy.

Nellie’s Restaurant

Nellie’s is known for its breakfast buffet that features a mix of continental American and Puerto Rican favorites. It’s never a real visit unless customers order a bowl of coconut oatmeal (avena de coco). Gluten-free diners may find solace in the breakfast jibarito.

Kasama

Michelin-starred mega hit Kasama features both daytime and dinner options from chefs and spouses Genie Kwon and Tim Flores. Their breakfast sandwich (stuffed with egg, cheese, longanisa, and hash browns) is a banger that’s developed its own following, but there’s also a classic Filipino breakfast (fried egg, garlic fried rice, and longanisa or tocino) and Kwon’s stunning laminated pastries. Lumpia is also a wonderful way to start the day. Skip the long lines by ordering ahead.

The Bongo Room

A Chicago staple for almost three decades, the Bongo Room specializes in indulgent, over-the-top pancakes and French toasts. But if that’s too much sugar in the morning, the menu is also balanced out by eggs and sandwiches. There’s a second location in Andersonville. Place online orders here.

Honeybear Cafe

This cozy cafe has become one of the best breakfast destinations in Rogers Park. Guests can build their own omelets, skillets, scramblers, benedicts, and more. Other house specialties include breakfast quesadillas, biscuits stuffed with andouille sausage or smothered in country gravy, and truly decadent waffle and pancake platters. Order online here.

Uncle Mike's Place

Tired of the same old bacon and eggs? Visit this Ukrainian Village diner for homey Southeast Asian specialties. The fluffy omelets and pancakes won’t disappoint, but the most popular choices are the marinated skirt steak and the hearty Filipino breakfasts. They can be ordered with longanisa (sweet sausage), bangus (marinated milkfish), tocino (cured pork shoulder), and more. The staff also serves complimentary bowls of lugaw (rice porridge) to every patron. Online ordering is available here.

M. Henry

Hailed as one of Chicago's top breakfast and brunch spots, M. Henry puts the focus on quality ingredients. The creative menu offers Jorge’s black bean cakes and huevos borrachos (“drunken eggs”), lemon-raspberry brioche French toast, and Fannie’s killer fried egg sandwich. There are also lots of vegan and vegetarian options. Order online here.

A plate of lemon raspberry brioche French toast.
M. Henry is an Andersonville hotspot in the mornings.
M. Henry [Official Photo]

Tiztal Cafe

Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish and one of Chicago’s best versions is found at this small Uptown cafe. The recipe features fresh tortilla chips topped with green salsa, eggs, Chihuahua cheese, onions, cilantro, and a choice of chorizo, steak, or chicken. Omelets and creamy oatmeal milkshakes are also standouts. And there’s a lovely back patio for outdoor dining. Online ordering is available here.

A plate of steak chilaquiles.
The chilaquiles are a must-try at Tiztal Cafe.
Tiztal Cafe [Official Photo]

Stax Cafe

Popular with UIC students and workers in the Illinois Medical District, Stax Cafe is known for its creative spins on breakfast staples. The menu boasts exciting dishes like a Monte Cristo waffle sandwich, cinnamon roll waffles, “Healthy Start” oatmeal pancakes mixed with blueberries, and prosciutto avocado benedict. There’s also a selection of cocktails so guests can pair their bites with a Bloody Mary or an old fashioned. A second Stax Cafe outpost is located in River West. Online ordering is available here.

Sweet Maple Cafe

The University Village community hub warrants a visit for many exceptional dishes, including breakfast tacos, country scrambles, holiday French toast, home fries, and Southern-style fried catfish nuggets that are only available on Fridays.

Batter & Berries

An adorable Lincoln Park BYOB cafe with a soul food twist, Batter & Berries is most notable for its French toast flights which offer a taste of its signature lemon, blueberry, strawberry and caramel versions. The restaurant also offers a French toast special each week, with previous iterations including Oreo or caramel corn. Other highlights include deconstructed omelets and sweet potato waffles topped with fried chicken and nutmeg hot sauce. Skip the mob-inducing brunch hours by heading over for weekday breakfast.

Wishbone

The longtime West Loop restaurant moved from its original location in 2018 but the food hasn’t skipped a beat. The menu still leans heavily on Southern comforts, such as salmon cakes, shrimp and grits, fried catfish, and chicken andouille hash. Online ordering is available here.

Lou Mitchell's

A Chicago icon that’s been in business for a century, Lou Mitchell's dishes out a dose of greasy spoon Americana rarely seen in the 21st century. Omelets, skillets, pancakes, waffles, and complimentary Milk Duds (yes, Milk Duds) are go-tos for regulars who stop in for a dose of old-school charm and entertaining people-watching.

A plate of chicken and waffles.
Lou Mitchell’s is an old-school diner experience.
Lou Mitchell’s [Official Photo]

Related Maps

Pearl's Place

For an endless supply of Southern-style soul food, Chicagoans should make their way to Pearl’s. In addition to the a la carte menu, there’s also a buffet of breakfast comfort food, such as made-to-order omelets, waffles, grits, biscuits, mac and cheese, collard greens, fried chicken wings, and much more. It’s a bountiful spread that will keep even the biggest appetites full until dinner. Order online here.

Mini-waffles and chicken wings
Pearl’s Place is an institution in Bronzeville.
Pearl’s Place [Official Photo]

Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe

Located right near Millennium Park, Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe is regularly packed with a mix of tourists and local workers tucking into rich plates of key lime pie pancakes, cookie dough waffles and red velvet cake french toast accompanied by fresh-squeezed orange juice and Intelligentsia coffee. Service is friendly and fast, though WiFi is available for anyone who needs to catch up on emails while they eat. Wildberry also has a location along the Magnificent Mile and suburban outposts in Libertyville and Schaumburg.

Cafecito

Start the day with a shot or two of espresso or a sweet and creamy cafe con leche along with a breakfast sandwich made with steak, eggs, grilled onions and Cafecito’s excellent Cuban. For a more indulgent meal, dig into pancakes topped with sweet plantains and pineapple while sipping a mimosa made with guava or mango nectar. Cafecito also has locations in Lincoln Park and The Loop.

Peach's Restaurant

Bright and airy, Peach’s Restaurant stirs the soul with Southern delights. Salmon croquettes and flaky biscuits are hits, as is the juicy and peppery fried chicken served with cinnamon French toast and honey butter. Place online orders here.

A pile of French toast topped with chopped peanuts, powdered sugar and a scoop of ice cream.
French toast from Peach’s Restaurant
Cliff Rome

Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles

With two locations, Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles has become a soul food destination with fluffy waffles, huge portions, and family-friendly service. Choose from wings, thighs, or breasts to find the right combo. Sub in catfish, too. Not everything is fried either. There are plenty of egg dishes if diners are trying to eat healthier.

Josephine's Southern Cooking

Josephine Wade is a mythical figure in Chicago. The namesake owner, also known as “Mother,” has run this soul food diner in Chatham for decades. She received national attention in 2019 when her South Side institution was renovated on an episode of Restaurant: Impossible. Customers can expect to find catfish, pork chops, chicken and waffles, and salmon croquettes.

Daley's Restaurant

Chicago’s oldest restaurant — which moved across the street in 2019 — has been part delicious soul food, part time capsule, and part gathering place for nearly half the city since 1892. At breakfast, there aren’t many places in town where one can get pork chops, catfish, chicken wings, salmon patties, grilled salt pork, and other Southern comforts alongside eggs and pancakes. Online ordering is available here.

A breakfast skillet.
Daley’s is a timeless treasure for daytime dining.
Daley’s Restaurant [Official Photo]

Roux

Located near the University of Chicago, this modern counter-service diner serves a New Orleans-inspired breakfast all day long. Lillie’s Q chef Charlie McKenna is the visionary behind the menu, which explores the world of Southern cooking. Guests can start with beignets and pimento cheese, followed by staples like shrimp and grits, fried catfish, and chicken fried steak. There’s a small, curated selection of alcoholic beverages as well. Online ordering is available here.

A person preparing to cut into fried green tomato tartine.
Southern cuisine shines bright at Roux.
Neil John Burger/Roux

Plein Air Cafe

Situated next to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House on the University of Chicago’s campus, Plein Air is a French-inspired café that provides both students and locals alike a warm and cozy environment to refuel. Head to the bright, minimalist space in the morning for pastries, breakfast sandwiches and burritos, quiches, and savory pies. Don’t forget the most important item: a hot (or cold) cup of coffee showcasing beans from artisan roasters. Online ordering is available here.

A variety of pastries and baked goods on a counter.
Plein Air Cafe brings a touch of Europe to Hyde Park.
Plein Air Cafe [Official Photo]

Related Maps