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Best Breakfasts in Chicago and the Suburbs

SUNNY-SIDE UP: Whether you’re in the market for a healthy meal or a carbo-bomb of yesteryear, morning in Chicago is better than ever—and we’ve got 75 ways to prove it.

Longman & Eagle   Photos: Anna Knott

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The ramshackle look of this Taylor Street haunt sets the stage for the homiest breakfast in town. It’s not just the Diaz y Noches, a scramble of juicy chicken and punchy jalapeños, or the exemplary egg folded around Fontina, tomato, basil, and Italian sausage; it’s also the forties music, the ceramic maple leaf décor, and the oniony home fries and warm biscuits you will want with whatever you order. 1339 W. Taylor St.; 312-243-8908

Kudos to Art Smith for making fried chicken a special occasion. Don’t bother with the more healthful choices. Opt, like all the well-heeled folks in the room, for the melt-in-your-mouth fried chicken atop a golden waffle, and go for broke with a jumbo side of bubbling mac and cheese. [S] 52 W. Elm St.; 312-573-4000

On Sundays, this modern Bucktown bistro takes it down a tiny notch and serves noodles—authentic Japanese ramen as well as udon and soba—starting at 11 a.m. Arrive early to snag a table downstairs, where the sun streams in: You’ll want a good view of Takashi’s lacy tempura batter, the creamy whiteness of the house-made tofu, and the droplets of porky richness sparkling on the surface of your ramen broth. Slurptastic. Is that a word? [S] 1952 N. Damen Ave.; 773-772-6170

Everyone seems to describe Tre Kronor as cute. Yes, Albany Park’s Swedish stronghold is a picture-perfect bistro, but it deserves credit for a menu that balances nuance and heartiness, even in familiar offerings like French toast—here, a thick cinnamon-dusted egg bread saturated with vanilla and fortified by an orange flavor that kicks cute in the ass. 3258 W. Foster Ave.; 773-267-9888

Why did the tofu cross the road? To prove it wasn’t chicken. At Uptown’s ever-pleasant Tweet, the humble bean curd proves a lot more, particularly in the tofu scramble with sautéed tomatoes and peppers. Spritz on some lime, sprinkle cilantro, and dab with green chili sauce, then fold it all into warm, crisp tortillas, until tofu seems like the boldest food on earth. 5020 N. Sheridan Rd.; 773-728-5576

A helping of Zen in the morning never hurts, and neither does ultrafresh veggie fare. Savory options like the scrambled eggs studded with tofu and served with brown rice outshine pancakes and French toast. If you have a hankering for something sweet, look to the creamy made-from-scratch Indian-style chai tea. Namaste. 2100 W. Roscoe St.; 773-665-0227

Sometimes the only way to start your day is with a bloody pig’s ear. This Dutch-inspired American bistro pays homage to Van Gogh with a hilariously obscene Bloody Mary, but the rest of the menu grabs you too, especially an uitsmijter plate of toasted brioche with a sunny-side-up egg, brown sugar bacon, Gouda, and a pickle; and the brawny Dock Worker, a plate heaped so high with pork products that you’d fall off the dock if you tried to work after eating it. [S] 1475 W. Balmoral Ave.; 773-334-7168

Liege and Brussels waffles are not new—just new around here. For the uninitiated, liege waffles are chewy and dense, with caramelized bottoms, while Brussels boast thin, brittle floors and airy squared-off walls (especially good with a side of fig compote). The menu smacks of waffle creativity with flavors including green tea and red velvet—and the glitzy W hanging from the ceiling never lets you forget the mission. 1400 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-854-8572

The six suburban locations of this legend all look the same (brass hanging lamps, stained glass everywhere), but the food at the actual original in Wilmette is still the best. You can get melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk pancakes or puffy oven-baked omelets big enough for two. But the showstopper is the hallowed apple pancake—a dense marvel the size of a small deep-dish pizza—filled with fresh apples and drizzled with a gooey cinnamon-sugar glaze. 153 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette; 847-251-6000

The emergence of the modern ShowPlace Icon Theatre along Roosevelt Road underscores just how stuck in time this 24/7 diner remains. Matronly waitresses serve patrons in Naugahyde booths from a colorful menu so encyclopedic it has seven different takes on chicken and waffles alone. Our favorite: the Homeboy, which includes three gently battered chicken fingers that are more like chicken hands. 1159 S. Canal St.; 312-939-7167

Grab the bone and make a wish. If you’re smart, it will involve a steamy stack of Wishbone’s buttermilk pancakes—fluffy, buttery, and enriched with real maple syrup. If your companion wishes for a Southern Benedict (poached eggs and ham over biscuits topped with sausage gravy) and a side of wonderful beef brisket hash, you win either way. 1001 W. Washington Blvd., 312-850-2663; 3300 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-549-2663

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