The shtick: The prototypical neighborhood brunch—with long waits to boot.

The vibe: From the never-ending waitlist for this petite, bright café, you’d think it was the only restaurant open in a one-mile radius. But the place is a bit of an institution (thanks to a cavalcade of press clippings, both local and national, plus a prime Lake View location.) On a weekend, you might find yourself milling around the Southport Corridor for close to two hours before the hostess texts you to claim your spot at one of a handful of tightly packed tables filled with families, couples, and more than a few tourists—and you’ll have to wander, because there isn’t really any dedicated waiting area in the restaurant. Wire shelves stock some of Southport’s branded specialties (and separate the pay-at-the-counter and bakery line from the main eating area), leaving the space feeling a little cold and less than cozy. 5 out of 10

The food: If you’re going to wait for half the morning, you want fireworks, which is, unfortunately, not what you’re going to get. Things felt a little phoned-in: An herb-and-cheese muffin stuffed with a hard-boiled egg ($4) arrived lukewarm and uninspiring; the breakfast sandwich ($12) sat on an English muffin toasted so hard it shattered with every bite. Even cupcake pancakes ($10), made of cupcake batter poured directly on a griddle and cooked to a picture-perfect golden brown, didn’t seem like any big step beyond your standard stack of flapjacks. 5 out of 10

The drinks: The bourbon-spiked hot chocolate ($7) packs some serious boozy heat—great in winter, less advisable now. The Bloody Mary ($8), plenty tangy and pepped up with chili-infused vodka, is a more seasonally appropriate potable to order instead. Bottomless cups of Metropolis coffee ($3.50) rarely sit empty for long. 7.5 out of 10

The service: Our server may have been the single most excitable person working in a restaurant today—she arrived at our table bearing a giant smile and (no joke) jazz hands, and she was quick to pour refills and bring our food once we placed our orders. The Broadway moves may have been a little much, though. 7.5 out of 10

Overall: There are glimmers of greatness here, and there’s welcoming warmth in spades, but couple a middling meal with an overwhelming wait and it gets hard to advocate for Southport over other, worthier options. 6 out of 10