Stella's is, hands down, one of the best places to eat brunch in all of Chicago. While the classic omelets and pancakes are excellent options, the pride of Stella is the skillet. For a truly hearty brunch order the Hobo which consists of two eggs, hash browns, tomatoes and cheese all mashed together. As far as diners go, Stella's does not betray the homely decor that is ingrained into such establishments, but offers a brighter atmosphere and incredibly perky service. Also, a morning of Stella's food blends with an afternoon of shopping at adjacent Lakeview shops.
The Lincoln is a great place for breakfast, and you can choose from any of the wonderful skillet selections to nurse even the worst of hangovers. The waitress staff and other employees may remind you of a truck stop scene, but never you mind. Honest Abe is the moniker here, and the food is always served to suit. The decor varies from Arabian Nights wall murals to wall-paper scenery of the far-western hill country.
Eat-A-Pita is a mainstay for great food in a hurry, served up fast and furious but always on the mark. Choose from a delightful array of crispers-sandwiches with bread toasted in a griddle. Top off the lingering sweetness with a Banana Shake or a couple of scoops of ice cream. You can also enjoy a veggie menu. Several hand-drawn posters depicting familiar Chicago neighborhoods are worth a chuckle or two.
Leather couches and a warm and inviting fireplace makes 404 Wine Bar an excellent winter hideout and a great place to recline with a glass of fine wine. Or in the warmer months, sip your wine in the outdoor seating area. Choose from a varied selection of Mexican, Chilean, South African and Italian wines at reasonable prices, available by the glass, flight or bottle. The 404 Bar seeks to take the pretension out of wine. Salut!
Waits can stretch out the door, especially on weekend mornings, when people clamor into this 1950s-style diner for good food at good prices. Your dollar stretches really far here, making Salt & Pepper Diner one of the best places, if not the best place, to eat in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. The menu includes all the diner staples: burgers, fries, shakes, hot and cold sandwiches, breakfast dishes, but also some surprisingly low-fat items, like vegetable burgers and tuna steaks. Glittering red booths, with Formica tables filling the center, make up the dining room. Everything is spotless and shining, and the 1950s atmosphere feels more real than kitsch.
Enjoy Argentine flavor with a European feel. The setting is cozy, intimate and candlelit. If you are unfamiliar with the cuisine, you cannot go wrong with empanadas (savory-stuffed pastry) for an appetizer, Argentine steak for your main course and rich-custard flan for dessert. Connoisseurs of the meat will say it is better than anything you will find in an American steak house. You be the judge.
Owner Orapin "Penny" Chiamopoulous runs the Penny's Noodle Shop with an emphasis on a fast and authentic Thai experience. The menu offers a host of noodle dishes topped with meat or vegetables, cilantro, garlic and a variety of different spices. You will not be dissatisfied with either the sauce or gravy selection, which can be made to order. This place is almost always packed and does not accept reservations.
The owners of Bakin' and Eggs opened their second eatery with a new idea in mind: to bring sweet treats and pastries to a savory breakfast and brunch menu. Since their first business is a bakery (it's called Lovely: A Bake Shop), the mission was already half accomplished. Customers who are in a hurry can grab a baked good from the case up front, and those interested in sampling the unique menu can sit down to try a cinnamon breakfast sandwich or pumpkin pancakes. There are plenty of standard bacon-and-egg dishes as well. One of the restaurant's strongest selling points is the amount of dining space it provides. It's roomy and comfortable enough for large parties and moms who need to stash strollers. As an added plus, Bakin' and Eggs serves Chicago-roasted Intelligentsia coffee. -Betsy Mikel
Café 28 specializes in Cuban and Mexican cuisine that goes a bit above the typical fare. Instead of tortilla chips, you'll be offered a basket of bread while you browse the menu. It includes items like pistachio-crusted chicken, honey jalapeno pork chops, and almond-crusted halibut. When Café 28 opened in 1995, the restaurant only served breakfast and lunch at its nine tables. Once the menu expanded to incorporate dinner dishes, Café 28 quickly grew to include indoor seating for 100 as well as a back patio. Diners come not only to sample the food, but also the drink menu. Café 28 mojitos use fresh ingredients and are served strong. - Betsy Mikel
From the street, Mixteco Grill looks like a typical, run-of-the mill Mexican eatery. But step inside without a reservation, and you may not get the chance to discover there is nothing run-of-the mill about the authenticity and popularity of their entremeses and platos fuertos. This popular Lakeview eatery is well-known for its mole sauces, which come served over a variety of meat and fish dishes. Customers who take advantage of Mixteco Grill's bring-your-own-booze policy can attempt to put that extra money towards dessert. But there might not be room for a slice of tres leche cake after such a hearty serving of slow-roasted pork marinated with achiote and sour orange juice, served with black beans, pickled onions and habanero salsa. - Betsy Mikel
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