There are Greek diners all over Chicago, but over the past few years, second generation owners have greatly expanded their menus. That means much more than just omelets, strong coffee and thick-cut Greek toast.
Many are embracing organic ingredients and some modern techniques. Meli Caffe in Greektown comes to mind, as does Prasino in the suburbs. At Kanela in Lakeview, breakfast and lunch are the real attractions.
The loukoumades fritter with lemon-honey syrup and walnuts is one sign and the loukaniko sausage is yet another. Is Kanela Breakfast Club in Lakeview masking as a traditional Greek diner?
"I didn't want it to be known as a Greek restaurant, but I wanted to bring in a lot of the Greek flavors that I grew up eating," said owner Chris Lardakis.
So that Greek sausage shows up in an omelet, topped off with spicy feta cheese and kalamata olives. There's also a giant stack of French toast accented with apricot preserves and a tart-creamy topping.
"So I came up with a lemon-sour cream sauce; you can add pieces of apricots in it, and of course drench it with tons of cinnamon on it, and its become a big hit," Lardakis said. "My whole idea was I wanted a place filled with complete flavor, every plate has to have a different flavor."
One example of that complete flavor mantra is the chocolate-covered bacon waffles with bourbon caramel and bacon dust. It's a big hit with 10 year-old boys.
"'Cause it's kind of a good blend of sweet and savory; those are the two main things of food," said Max Dolinsky.
From the lunch menu, another savory winner: tuna salad with sriracha chili aioli and giardiniera on a firm baguette.
"Kind of like the bread and the tuna and kind of like cucumber," Max added.
To teenage girls, like Madeline, the healthy drink list is the first thing to grab her attention.
"They have a lot of good smoothies here and a lot of good drinks rather than just Coke or soda," she said.
But clearly, her idea of a good restaurant has evolved over the years; now, she leans toward places with good food and atmosphere.
"It's like a brunch place and brunch is where a lot of families come together and they talk and sit and eat good food, and I think this is the kind of food that a family would come and eat together," she said.
Kanela's also carries Julius Meinl coffee and is open every day, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekends.
Kanela Breakfast Club
3231 N. Clark St.