Midwest

Brunch – Chicago, IL

As stated on the page THE BEST OF THE BEST the best brunch restaurant is aptly named “Brunch” because there is nothing left to say.  This restaurant epitomizes everything you think of when you think of brunch.  It has everything you need for breakfast, lunch, or brunch.  The food is just well cooked goodness that is better than anything you’ll ever make af home.  Their creative Chicken and Waffle Bites are initially what won me over, then I had the Challah French Toast, and then the Pancakes.  I have now come to realize that Brunch can really do no wrong.  Nothing they make is bad.  The service is excellent.  They even have a rewards club that is perfect.  It’s not free but it immediately pays you back.

If you haven’t noticed I love everything about this place.  I love the plates, the mugs, the shirts they wear, and everything else.  The restaurant is in the “Mecca”of food, the greatest city the land, Chicago, and takes the reins as the best of the best.

This restaurant did not survive COVID-19.  However, I am ever hopeful that it will return.

Lou Mitchell’s – Chicago, IL

Located in downtown Chicago at the start of the most famous road in the United States of America, Route 66, Lou Mitchell’s is one of the most famous restaurants in Chicago.  Movies have had scenes there, actors and politicians have to eat there, and the residents revere it.  The restaurant almost always have lines outside, but the lines move quickly.  It is a small, but packed restaurant with amazing service and amazing food.

As far as rankings, Lou Mitchell’s is a close second.  It was a difficult decisions making this number two but it is not quite ahead of Brunch.  It is almost equal to Brunch.  It is addictive and immediately has an effect on your body.  Once you eat here you are going straight to sleep.  This place is soooo good.  It takes you to your happy place and makes you want to go and take a nap.  They make their own pure maple syrup and bread in house.  The food is seasoned to perfection.  The French Toast are the best I have ever had.  The potatoes and pancakes are second to none.  They can do no wrong when it comes to food.  They give you doughnut holes and Milk Duds when you walk in and ice cream when you leave.  So how is Lou Mitchell’s number two?  Chicken and Waffle bites…they don’t have them, thus they’re number two.

Eleven City Diner – Chicago, IL

The third best restaurant in Chicago, and fourth best overall, after Perry’s in San Francisco, is Eleven City Diner.  Eleven City Diner is located in the South Loop.  It is a Jewish Restaurant that sells breakfast all day.  It is popular for its brunch.  The restaurant is not kosher but it has many popular Jewish dishes.  Their food is fantastic.  The food makes you want to try other foods.  This is one of my favorite restaurants in the city so it is where I take all my guests, along with Lou Mitchell’s.

 I discovered Eleven City Diner when I could not get into the restaurant Yolk, which is located one street over.  Yolk is a very famous restaurant in the city for tourists but the locals all know it’s not good.  I eventually got in a few weeks later and it isn’t.  I am so glad I discovered it.  I have been eating here ever since.  The Challah French Toast is made using traditional braided Challah.  Pancakes, eggs, and potatoes are amazing.  I hear the latke is good.  Some of my guests have ordered it and loved it.  I always eat the French Toast.  The portion sizes are reasonable.  The place is outstanding and I highly recommend it.  It even has a relatively cheap lot next door.

Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe – Chicago, IL

Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe is the hottest breakfast ticket in town.  Be prepared to wait two hours on the weekend.  It is conveniently located across from “The Bean” and near the Chicago Art Institute.  It is just down from the Magnificent Mile.  You can easily find things to do while you wait.  When you do get in you will find the food good, very good.  If you haven’t been to Brunch, Lou Mitchell’s, or Eleven City Diner you will think that it is as good as it gets in Chicagoland.  The food is great!  It is so good.  I’ve been there a few times now but it is not as good as the others above it.  However I must state that the French Toast is outstanding and the pancakes are too.  They have every type of French Toast and pancakes you can think of, including Red Velvet, and many with berries.  The place is very popular for good reason.  I will be back soon.

Batter and Berries – Chicago, IL

Batter and Berries is a really popular newish place on the north side of Chicago.  The restaurant was founded by a doctor in the city who, along with her husband, had a unique concept of having a restaurant that focused on foods served with fruit.  All of their foods made not the griddle have a fruit in the batter either caramel, lemon, strawberries, or blueberries.  They have something called “French Toast Flights” and not when you purchase of flight your an get a slice of Lemon French Toast, Blueberry French Toast, Strawberry French Toast, and Caramel French Toast.  They also have the caramel apple waffle, blueberry waffle, and a blueberry waffle.  They sell Chicken and Waffles with a sweet potato waffle.  My personal favorite was not from the griddle but the oven.  I purchased the “Cluck and Gravy” which is biscuits and gravy made with a chicken sausage gravy.  The “Cluck and Gravy” was fantastic, it was simply wonderful.

While I really liked Batter and Berries, I was disappointed in all of the foods made on the griddle.  They do not have a standard pancake, waffle, or French Toast.  I am a weirdo who does not like berries on my breakfast foods, thus I wanted a standard slice of French Toast.  I tried the caramel apple waffle but the caramel was too strong.  The Lemon Pancakes were like eating a lemon cookie.  My husband loved the pancakes.  I wanted to try the Chicken and Waffles but a sweet potato allergy eliminated that option for me.  I would prefer to have the option eating traditional food while dining at the restaurant.

While I do have my issues with the restaurant, I cannot say that they will keep me away.  The “Cluck and Gravy” was easily the best biscuits and gravy I have had in my life.  It was better than the Denver Biscuit Company, which was also delicious.  I have been dreaming about those biscuits since I left and I cannot wait to go back.

Hash House a Go Go – Chicago, IL

Hash House a Go Go is a restaurant listed three times on this website.  It is listed three times because it is very good and very different in each restaurant.  The Chicago location is very good.  The portion sizes are still huge but smaller than Orlando, and bigger than San Diego.  The food is cooked better in Chicago, meaning the waffles taste similar but are melt in you mouth good, and not gummy.  The biscuits are also fluffier.   The honey was not as good as in Orlando.  I assume that Florida has sweeter bees, thus better honey.  🙂  I digress…  However, the flavors are better in Chicago, maybe due to the wide variety of local options in Chicago.

As stated on the other pages, Hash House a Go Go has very good Chicken and Waffles.  However, being a Chicagoan, I will not go here simply for good chicken and waffles.  I go there for the experience.  The place is ideal for kids.  There are far better Chicken and Waffles in Chicago, like at Chicago Q, Blue Door Kitchen, or Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles.  The pancakes are also good.  The portion sizes are humongous.  The biscuits are good, but not as good as the “Little Goat.”  The restaurant is good but the ambiance and experience is why you go here, if you are in Chicago.  If you are in some other cities it is likely one of the best places in the city.

Little Goat Diner – Chicago, IL

“Little Goat Diner” is a great restaurant located it the West Loop near downtown Chicago.  The restaurant serves breakfast all day and some of the best biscuits in Chicago.  The restaurant is fantastic.  I have tried a few of their items.  The shrimp and grits is my favorite.  I have ordered them multiple times and never had a bad experience.  The also have a “Bulls Eye French Toast” which is French Toast with a runny egg in the center served with fried chicken tenders and berries and a  BBQ maple syrup.  It sounds weird but it is fantastic.  I do not even like runny eggs and I liked this meal.  I did not take a picture of it but when I go back and order it again I will post a picture.  The meal is fantastic.  The fried chicken is also fantastic.  My husband orders the burgers and he absolutely loves them.

The restaurant is a sister restaurant to Girl and the Goat located across the street.  It is the less serious, more family friendly, little sister of the Girl and the Goat.  It has a cool vibe and a menu that makes you want to try something different every time.  I have ordered many items on the menu and I often find something I like and stick with it.  I highly recommend this restaurant.  It is one of my favorites and another place I take friends and family when they come to visit.  By the way, my father says that the sausage, made in house, is the best sausage he has ever had and he knows sausage.  He wants to go back just for the sausage.

Original Pancake House – Orland Park, IL & South Bend, IN

There are many Original Pancake Houses across the country.   The Original Pancake Houses around the country are not all equal.  Many are good, some are bad, and a couple are fantastic.  The menus are pretty much the same but there are some variations, such as they type of bread used in the French Toast, the amount of vanilla flavoring used, and also the sausage varies.  Most do not provide hard boiled eggs, even when asked, but some will.  The menus vary.  All have the apple and German pancakes.  All have the breakfast staples, such as waffles, pancakes, omelets, biscuits, and French Toast.

This post is not about all of the Original Pancake House locations, however if is only about the Orland Park , IL and South Bend, IN locations.  I live within 5 miles of two Orignal Pancake Houses and they are not equal.  One stays packed, the other one, not so much.  The Orland Park, IL location is simply phenomenal.  Whenever my family comes to town they must eat there at least once, usually 2-3 times per 4 day trip.  At this location the French Toast is made with sourdough, wheat, or whole grain bread.  The bread is thinly sliced and truly fantastic.  The waffles are just like the standard Belgian waffle, its just better in every way.  The pancakes are the most addictive pancakes on earth.  I have never had a better pancake and likely never will.

The South Bend, IN location used to be Biblers, but when it was Bibler’s it was a still an Original Pancake House location, at least since I have been going there since the very early 2000s.  The French Toast is made of thick Texas Toast and is phenomenal.  The French Toast is so good that I have never ordered anything else.  However, the line is always out the door, so everything else is simply amazing.  If you are in South Bend you have no where else to eat but to go to the Original Pancake House.  If it is a Notre Dame game day, get ready to wait for a long time.  It will be well worth the wait.

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Maggiano’s Little Italy – Chicago, IL (and many other locations)

Maggiano’s Little Italy is a chain, I know.  However, the brunch is not very popular, but its is very good.  They have traditional breakfast and brunch foods.  They claim to have an Italian spin on the brunch, but it is not very Italian, but they do use some Italian spices.  Despite the fact that it is not very Italian, it is very good.  It is simply fantastic.  We visit Maggiano’s for brunch about once per month.

I love their Chicken and Waffles.  They use a spicy syrup, however I always use regular syrup.  They also top it with whipped cream and berries.  The pancake are also particularly good.  My husband loves the bacon and eggs.  I personally like the fact that you can alter the Chicken and Waffles to your liking.  I had mine with the lighter take chicken last time and it was still quite good.  No matter how they cook the food, they will always make it fantastic.

Wishbone – Chicago, IL

Wishbone is a restaurant located in the West Loop of Chicago.  The restaurant is very popular.  The menu is vast and very good.   It is one of the more popular restaurants in the city.  The prices are very reasonable and the food is disproportionately good relative to the prices.  The food is very good.  They restaurant calls itself a restaurant with southern comfort food.  Wishbone has a number of Cajun classics such as shrimp and grits, jambalaya omelets, and Chicken andouille sausage.

The restaurant serves  breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  All are popular but I can only speak of brunch and breakfast and I can attest that the food is good.  The restaurant has good pancakes and French toast.  I have yet to try the Chicken and Waffles.  The biscuits, potatoes, eggs, and bacon are very good.  Upon my next visit I will try the shrimp and grits and the Chicken and Waffles.  I will update the website as soon as I return.

First Watch – Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis, and various other locations

First Watch may be the most consistent restaurant in the nation.  The food is consistently outstanding.  The restaurant is located in many locations in the Midwest.  I have been to a few Ohio locations.  I go there whenever I visit Ohio which is many times per year.  The restaurant is delicious.  They offer pure maple syrup, for a rather generous fee, as well as kitchen syrup.  Personally, I love pure maple syrup, thus I order it anyway.

The waffles are fantastic, not Original Pancake House good but still very good.  The French Toast are fantastic as well.  The whole grain French Toast is considerably better than the sourdough French Toast, but both are quite good.  My husband loves the bacon and eggs.  The service is not as consistent as the food, however.  The Columbus location has much better service than the Cincinnati locations that I have visited (Norwood and Covington, KY).  Despite the bad service I will still be back to one of the Cincinnati locations upon my next visit.

Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles – Chicago & Oak Park, IL

Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles has two locations in the Chicago area.  One location is located on the Southside in Bronzeville and the other location is located just outside of the west side in the suburb of Oak Park.  The restaurant is Chicago’s better take on Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.  Both restaurants are very good, however Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles has the edge.   The restaurants have very similar menus.

The chicken livers are probably my favorite.  You can get chicken and waffles at many restaurants in many cities these days but you can’t get chicken livers anywhere.  They give you a ridiculous portion, as does Roscoe’s, but they are soooo good.  The gravy is also fantastic.  The chicken and waffles are also very good.  The biscuits are okay, not the best I’ve ever had and I will likely never order them again.  Since I don’t go to Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles for biscuits, the restaurant is still fantastic.  They have a number of other items like burgers, salmon, catfish, greens, cornbread, and many other southern foods.  The food is all good.  I highly recommend Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles.

Over Easy – Omaha, NE

Over Easy is a cute little restaurant nestled in a neighborhood in Omaha, NE. The restaurant is amazing. This is easily one of the best restaurants in all of the Midwest/Plains, however the service was quite suspect. The waffles were a honeycomb waffle that are very eggy and they were drizzled in honey with strawberries and blueberries. The chicken was superb. I wanted biscuits and gravy but they were out at the time. I really wanted to try the biscuits but the waitress would not even let me attempt to order one since they were out of gravy. We also ordered eggs, bacon, potatoes, fries, and toast. All of the meals were fantastic and the presentation was superb. The toast was especially good. We stayed in Lincoln and drove to Omaha to eat here and it was worth the drive.

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner – Madison, WI

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner is a cute little place in Madison, WI. We were in Madison and read about a diner, which I am partial to in general, so we decided to give it a try as our first meal on our roadtrip. The diner was the sterotypical diner, however the feel of a midcentry diner was all over the place. I felt like it was perfect for the location and the vibe of Madison. It was also very good. I ordered the challah French Toast, which had bread that was a tad overmixed but not inedible. However, my husband and son loved the eggs, biscuits, and potatoes. The biscuit was very good. Also, the kids chicken tenders were also very good, and I am not a chicken tender person. The service was also very good. If I am ever back in Madison at brunch time, I will definitely stop back at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner.

While the food was not the best brunch food, the atmosphere compensated more than enough.

Phillips Avenue Diner – Sioux Falls, SD

The Phillips Avenue Diner is an excellent spot in Sioux Falls, SD. We discovered the restaurant while one a road trip to Yellowstone. If you are ever doing a roadtrip across I-90 and you are going through South Dakota, this is a must do. The restaurant was easily the best restaurnt we visited in the Dakota Territory (aka North Dakota and South Dakota). This meal was one fo the best meal of our 4 days in the Dakotas. It was also one of the best meals of our trip.

The restaurant was a very fast and amazing. It is rare that you get served quickly and get amazing food. The waffle was one of the best I have ever had. The chicken tenders were juicy. The eggs were perfectly cooked. The pancake was also clearly homemade and amazing. The homemade sausage reminded me of home. There was one thing that was a little odd was the syrup, which was clearly sourced from McDonalds’ supplier. This is the second restaurant I have visited that has McDonald’s syrup. However, who doesn’t like McDonald’s syrup. Since I do not eat at McDonald’s it was a great blast from the past.

This restaurant was amazing. I do not know when I will be going back to Sioux Falls, but if I do this restaurant will be the first restaurant I visit.