Guest blog: South Side brunch faves

September 21, 2011

By Megan Bayles

Achy really expected to be — at least metaphorically — back on her feet by now. Apparently having your kneecaps busted up on purpose doesn’t work like that. As her wife, I’ve temporarily taken full hold of the reins regarding the shared parts of our lives (meals, cleaning the bathroom, feeding the cats). It was only a matter of time before I needled into her professional pursuits, as well. This morning I demanded it: a second guest blog post.

Perhaps due to the bun in my oven, or perhaps owing to my full-time return to Chicago -- a city that loves to brunch -- my desire for morning-time carb-loading and sweet-and-savory complements has been on fire this summer. And because I am now a near-South-Sider, I have made some key discoveries that, well, maybe you didn’t know about.

I’m going to share with you my Top 5 Near-South-Side Brunching Places. Promise not to tell too many people, though. It’s not cool to make a pregnant lady wait too long for her waffles.

Nana
3267 S Halsted St.
Nana is basically soul food meets latin food.
I feel like I don’t even need to write any more here. But I will.
In addition to an exquisite roasted red pepper bloody mary (I know), and housemade chorizo, they make a duck confit gravy that will make your toes curl. They do remarkable vegetarian options, too. The menu changes seasonally, and we’ve never eaten a bad dish there. The restaurant itself is bright, and in warm weather there’s patio seating.

Zaleski & Horvath (Z&H) Market Cafe
1126 E 47th St. & 1315 E 57th St.
I can’t express what a godsend Z&H has been to our neighborhood. Their grocery selection, while limited, is filled with the kind of fancy stuff that makes you want to cook like you’re summering in Paris. The menu, likewise, isn’t very extensive, but even after dozens of sammies, I’m not sick of anything. The Daniel Tamayo and the Nordalbingia are our household breakfast faves, but sometimes you gotta fudge it and get some pork belly or some such off the lunch menu.

The Original Pancake House

1517 E Hyde Park Blvd.
This one you gotta hurry up if you want to catch. Whole Foods is building a store at Lake Park and Hyde Park Blvd. — a good thing for the grocery situation in the neighborhood, but a move that throws the fate of the Original Pancake House into question. You don’t want to try to go there around after-church time on a Sunday — you’ll wait for an hour for a table. But if you can beat the crowd, it’s worth it. Any place that serves pancakes as a side dish option is alright in my book. The Dutch Baby alone is worth the wait.

Chicago’s Home of Chicken & Waffles
3947 S King Drive
I didn’t really have a taste for chicken & waffles until moving to Oakland, CA, where Brown Sugar Kitchen asserted some kind of pull that made me feel okay about waiting an hour and forty-five minutes to get a table. The Home of Chicken & Waffles is a totally sufficient replacement addiction. They offer no fewer than 11 chicken & waffle choices, in addition to their other breakfast offerings (so much grits! so much yum!). It, too, will make you wait if you don’t choose your timing well, but it is also worth it.

Huck Finn Donuts
3414 S Archer Ave.
I begged my way here at 9:30 pm on a week day. I desperately wanted a donut. Imagine my glee when I realized that Huck Finn Donuts wasn’t just a donut shop — it was a full-on old school diner, complete with sassy servers and lots of decaf coffee. I had a Monte Cristo sandwich with my donut. You have no idea how long I’d been looking for a Monte Cristo sandwich. The menu is eclectic (from housemade cream of chicken soup to gyros). And it’s open 24 hours a day.