You pretty much know what you're in store for at legendary places like Lou Mitchell's: giant, hearty breakfasts with a Greek accent. Places like Orange, the Bongo Room and Toast offer a morning experience with a bit more refinement. Now two additional players are re-interpreting the morning meal and they're proving extremely popular with their respective neighborhoods.
For decades, Bridgeport has been home to mom-and-pop diners, but nothing like the new Nana, which occupies a renovated stretch of South Halsted. The "Nana" in this case is Maria Solis, who raised her children above the restaurant.
"We were always graced with great food all of the time and it was one of the biggest inspirations behind this concept, was the food she served every morning for us and evenings," said Omar Solis, one of the co-owners of Nana.
Salvadorean influences seep through in the form of cheese-stuffed pupusas, topped with homemade chorizo sausage, poached eggs and poblano sauce; Mexican chilaquiles get a more dignified presentation than the usual mess, paired with black beans and eggs. Waffles can be amped up with sweet accents like bananas and chocolate. The juicer runs non-stop, offering healthy choices and just about everything on the menu is organic or locally-sourced.
"We wanted to really hit the mark with the idea of organics, and we just wanted to come in with something was going to be much more approachable and affordable as breakfast and lunch," Solis said.
In Ukrainian Village, the new Jam is literally jamming them in everyday for a creative approach to the morning meal. At breakfast, an amuse - or tiny complimentary starter - might include a carrot, pecan and orange muffin, topped with ricotta. As you nibble on it, you can decide whether to go for the egg sandwich with luscious pork cheek and pickled plums on dense bolo bread or the tempting French toast with macerated stone fruit and lime cream.
"It didn't receive the culinary attention that I think it deserves; I mean you can find as much creativity in breakfast as you can in dinner so I thought it needed some devotion," said Jam's owner, Jerry Suqi.
Cotechino sausage is juicy and just fatty enough to soak up a hangoverbut don't overlook the namesake. All of the jams here are splendid: raspberry, blueberry and apricot on the day we visited.. they are small details of a philosophy that extends to items as familiar as eggs benedict.
"We use pork belly, the English muffins are housemade, the hollandaise is a spinach hollandaise, so its not revolutionary but it's definitely…we have elevated it," Suqi said.
The only drawback for both places: moderate to stupefying waits on weekends. Either go early, or try them during the week.
Fore more information:
3267 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL
937 N. Damen Ave., Chicago