Category Archives: cheap, tasty brunch

Restaurants that offer just that. Great brunch on the fly for around $10.

Brunch at Prairie Fire

Did you think I’d go to Prairie Fire for the first time and only do a mystery spot on the place? Especially when a bacon waffle is on the menu? Yeah, yeah, bacon waffles, we’ve seen them, but really, can you resist one? Luckily the brunch menu offers relatively heathy items like eggs benedict, local mushroom and goat cheese (I said, relatively) omelets served with potatoes or juicy red tomato slices (I love that this is a side option) and other egg dishes, so you can easily throw in a bacon waffle for the table. Slather it with maple syrup and you’ll be happy you did…the pork doesn’t seem off-balance or over-whelm the fluffy sweet cake. You almost can’t detect it for a few bites, but you soon discover that chef Sarah Stegner’s version of the ironic waffle-du-jour is perfection.

Simple, perfect, bacon-laden goodness


But just when you’ve gotten over that sweet dish, the lemon ricotta pancakes catch your eye. A light-as-air thin stack arrives, bearing specks of lemon rind and fluffy ricotta mixed into the batter. The only thing this dish maaybe needs is a side of blackberries or something colorful, a little tart and sweet, but really, they are just fine stacked up on their own.

Lemon ricotta pancakes at Prairie Fire


Now that decided on sweets to share, the aforementioned local omelette is basic, but delicious. For something heartier and with a kick, order the chiliquiles with sour cream, guac and two eggs.

Omelette with goat cheese and mushrooms


Chiliquiles, and the object of order envy when my companion got this


With a fresh but hearty brunch menu, I can’t wait to get back to Prairie Fire for lunch or dinner, especially on a Tuesday evening when their guest bartender series has guest bartenders shaking things up with mixologist Daniel Sviland behind the bar. 215 N. Clinton Street

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On the table: The Southern

Formerly Chaise Lounge, The Southern started brunch service this weekend with shrimp and grits, bananas foster French toast, chicken and biscuits and crab cake benedict

4 napkin rolls, 4 plates, 2 votives, 1840 W. North Ave., 773.342.1840

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On the table: Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap

2 napkin rolls, 2 placemats, 2 plates, 2 water glasses, glass of crayons, ketchup, mustard, 2 hot sauces, sugar packets, salt, pepper, drink/food specials board. 1970 N. Lincoln, 312.642.0007

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Bakin’ & Eggs

A Lovely spot for brunch


I have a love/hate relationship with weekend brunch in this city. On one hand, well, I love it, especially when I go with friends who are down to order their own egg entrée to appease the salty cravings, and are totally fine with throwing in an order of pancakes, scones or waffles to share, and simultaneously satisfy the sweet. Sometimes I love it just for the endless warmups of coffee in thick porcelain mugs, and also because I can say that I’ve already been social for the day and can easily just do a whole lot of serious nothing for the rest of it. And what I hate? Well, waiting. And being hungry, and waiting. Sometimes outside and totally coffee-less for up to a good hour! So when I ventured up to the new and highly praised Bakin’ & Eggs in Lakeview a couple weekends ago, I expected a wait, and there was one, 40 minutes..but I didn’t mind a bit. The place, decked in shades of chocolate brown and light blue, is spacious and bright, so you don’t get that crammed-up-against-the-bar hovering feeling while you wait, trying not to let any drool get on the passing platters of heuvos rancheros and eggs benedict. Large, wide open wooden church pews await, and are conveniently placed near self-serving coffee stations, and well, things like this…

The bakery case at Bakin & Eggs


An endless bakery case filled with goodies that’ll hold you over until your name is called. Cupcakes, pies, danishes, cookies make up most of the Bakin’ side of the menu, and are a natural addition being that the brunch spot’s owners are also behind Wicker Park’s Lovely Bakery. Sit, snack, appease hunger.

Bacon Flight


And once you do sit, the eating adventure continues to the salty side, with a somewhat limited, but still tasty array of items like breakfast sandwiches, chicken apple sausage, fresh spinach, mushroom and gruyère frittatas, cheese grits, biscuits and gravy, and more sweet stuff like pumpkin pancakes, banana bread French toast, and a bacon waffle. And speaking of bacon, (nope not sick of it!), the $5 bacon flight is relatively pricey, but novel and interesting, so how can you not give it a go? The bacon isn’t cured in-house, but does offer an interesting array of tastes that hit each bud, like a smoky mesquite, spicy jalapeño, sweet honey, maple pepper and cherry-smoked, which was probably the least distinct of the bunch. Taste, ponder, compare, feel gross, finish it all anyway. Bakin’ & Eggs, 3120 N. Lincoln, 773,525.7005

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On the table: Juicy Wine Bar

Love going here to see what fab vino Rodney Alex has up his sleeve. Head there Aug. 22 from noon-3PM for the Pug Chug charity event hosted by Alpana Singh

Love dropping in to see what fab vino Rodney Alex has up his sleeve. Head over on Aug. 22 from noon-3PM for the Pug Chug charity event hosted by Alpana Singh

Single votive (lit). Juicy Wine Bar, 694 N. Milwaukee, 312.492.6620

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Vietnamese iced coffee at Vella Cafe

Vietnamese iced coffee on the rocks at Vella Cafe

Vietnamese iced coffee on the rocks at Vella Cafe

Man oh man am I going to miss the bright and sunny Vella Cafe when it closes up at the end of August to make room for Bill Kim’s (of Urban Belly) new venture, Belly Shack (Latin American and Pan-Asian influenced salads, sandwiches, soups and more). But Vella had a good run with owners Melissa Yen (a previous and future guest blogger) and Sara Voden, offering delicious brunch items like a spicy tofu scramble, amaranth pancakes with lingonberry jam and a sausage frittata panini. Lunch offers a surprisingly good vegetarian bánh mì with fried tofu, carrots, jalapeño, cilantro, mint, house pickled daikon and spicy chili mayo and grilled cheese with tomato. But the Vietnamese iced coffee is what I may go in for daily before they close up shop. You’ll be more productive than you ever thought possible after this tall pint glass full of espresso, coffee and sweet, creamy condensed milk served over ice. Yeah, you can get iced Vietnamese coffee at more authentic spots, but I loved how Vella whips theirs up and has it available for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Any other favorite items you’ll miss? Don’t worry, there’s still time to get in your final fix. 1912 N. Western Ave., 312.489.7777

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On the table: Jam

Killer new brunch/lunch spot in Ukie Village, I can't stop thinking about eggs Benedict with spinach hollandaise and crispy pork belly, and the housemade biscuits and raspberry jam. Review to come.

Killer new brunch/lunch spot in Ukie Village, I can't stop thinking about eggs Benedict with spinach hollandaise and crispy pork belly, and the housemade biscuits with raspberry jam. Review to come.

4 glasses, 4 napkins, 1 lime green runner (love). 935 N. Damen, 773.489.0302

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