What do people in Chicago eat for breakfast?

We were approached by our YouTube friends The Mamuchos with this very simple question: What do Chicagoans and Midwesterners eat for breakfast? Is it that different from the rest of the country? After almost a decade as residents, here are some basic observations:

Let’s talk about Monday to Friday habits first.

People in Chicago are obviously quite busy, especially in the mornings. You’re always running to catch the L train or to avoid traffic on your way to work. And not everybody has the luxury of enjoying a relaxing breakfast. Whatever you can eat on the go is basically fair game. – although, donuts and coffee is one of the obvious choices. You can sneak them on the bus or grab them close to the office.

We have so many great donut shops in town too! Think Stan’s, Firecakes, Do-Rite, Doughnut Vault, Old Fashioned, Dinkel’s, Weber’s, Racine Bakery… the list goes on. Even if you’re trying to be healthy with your green smoothie, there’s gonna be the one coworker bringing the big box of donuts to work. It’s like the equivalent of bagels in New York.

Weekend brunch is truly when locals have time to take it easy and enjoy a nice big breakfast.

Chicago has a strong brunch culture and there are basically two main groups of brunchers. The younger more millennial residents love their trendy cafes and Instagrammable spots where they can order gigantic bloody Mary and perfectly decorated pancakes. Then, you have the rest of the population sticking to the more classic old school dinners and restaurants, like Valois, Palace Grill or Ann Sather.

Nabol and I love going to the Golden House restaurant in Uptown. Even now during the pandemic, it’s so great that we can still get our favorite menu items to go. However, there’s nothing like the experience of eating there. It’s warm and inviting, the food is always consistent, the staff knows you and remembers your order. It’s one of those places that makes Chicago home and where you see your neighbors coming together.

What’s a proper Midwestern brunch?

A proper Midwestern brunch is hearty and filling. We’re in the middle of the country surrounded by farms so that means we’re all about meat and potatoes. You’ll see a plate of eggs –any style, your bacon, sausage, hash browns and toast or pancakes. And a bottomless cup of jo. That’s the simplest form of breakfast, and it’s probably very similar to what you can get in other parts of the country.

Then, we also have casseroles, which are more elaborate baked dishes using more or less the same ingredients. Especially on long weekends and holidays, you can expect many moms and grandmas serving a hot dish that’s cheesy, eggy and meaty.

Brunch is enjoyed on Sundays after church or on Saturdays before going about your day. It is as much about the food as it is about having the opportunity to slow down. You’ll find people refilling their cups long after they’re done with food, just to enjoy the quiet time or a nice conversation with family or friends.

Learn more about Chicago classic eats and restaurants!

Check out our LOCALS EAT CHICAGO series to get a taste of the most iconic eats this city has to offer. 

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