Welcome to my new feature called Fave Foods. Here you’ll learn all about the restaurant foods that I love. This will be my place to focus on well known and well hidden Chicagoland (and sometimes from other cities) dishes. I’d love to hear what you think about the recommendations even if you disagree.
Besides reading, traveling, watching the Celtics (and napping, blogging and teaching) I also really enjoy food. Cooking it, eating it, trying different cuisines. I’d consider myself a foodie, but not in a snooty way. I like cheap food, midrange food and yeah sure occasionally expensive food.
This was Jose’s birthday weekend, so of course we overindulged. Normally, I’d cook a special birthday meal, but for some reason, maybe the hot weather and the fact that school ended Friday and I was completely wiped out, we decided to dine out for his birthday. About 12 times in the past three days. Ok, slight exaggeration, but not by much.
This morning we woke up early, happy to both have a day off. It’s Memorial Day 2010! We decided it was a good time to head to Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe (website needs help, I know) for breakfast. I discovered Chuck’s about a year ago from one of the best Chicago TV shows — Check Please! It’s a restaurant review show that focuses on Chicago dining. We’ve tried a lot of restaurants we’ve seen showcased on this program and have enjoyed many of them.
(Side note…I don’t know what’s up with Italian restaurants in Chicago, but almost all the ones we’ve tried have not delivered. Maybe my standards are too high? My grandma made the BEST gravy ever. For you non-New Englanders, gravy = spaghetti sauce)
For the first few months we went to Chuck’s, we’d have lunch or dinner. Mostly BBQ items. I love the BBQ chicken and pork nachos. Once in a while we’d try one of Chuck’s creations which are a mixture of Mexican/Creole/Southern food. It’s an odd combo on paper, but really works on a plate. His soups are incredible. My favorite is the cream of poblano with shrimp. Hello delicious.
One of my friends, Karen, got on the Chuck’s kick at the same time as me and asked if we’d tried the breakfast yet. Whaaaat? Breakfast at Chuck’s? I LOVE restaurant breakfast. (Really, I just love eggs. All kinds, but especially eggs over medium. Whites cooked, edges of yolk cooked but insides still runny. Just perfect for toast or English muffins.) So of course at the next possible moment we drove there to try it.
Chuck’s breakfast menu. You can seen from this menu that it contains special items as well as a traditional breakfast menu, all prepared with Chuck’s typical flair. In addition to the regular menu (breakfast, lunch and dinner) there’s a daily special AND monthly specials. It’s impossible to keep up with the dishes that revolve around the menus.
I had the basic breakfast and thought it was good, but typical. Jose tried the Machacado omelet which had smoked beef brisket, tomato, onion, jalapeno and cheddar cheese. He liked it but it was nothing to write home about. I was dying to try the Cafe de Olla, the Mexican coffee made with cinnamon, brown sugar and orange peel. Turns out it’s the BEST coffee I’ve ever had. It’s served in a French press and it’s just amazingly delicious. It’s enough for 3 cups (can be shared if you’re feeling generous). YUM.
The next time we went to Chuck’s for breakfast, we each tried something else. I had Chuck’s Famous Bananas Foster French Toast —three pieces of Pain Perdu topped with caramelized bananas and toasted pecans.
Wow, was this good. It was sweet and delicious and very filling. I’ve since had the Bananas Foster pancakes and they are even better. Giant, fluffy pancakes and a bowl of the bananas foster and pecans. This is a special treat only and definitely something that could be shared at the table.
Over a period of a few months, we tried various items from the menu like different omelets and biscuits and gravy. All very good. Jose’s favorite dish is the Huevos ala Rancheros which is two tortillas stuffed with chorizo and cheese and topped with two eggs (over easy) , a spicy roasted tomato sauce and queso fresco cheese. Served with tomato chipotle rice and refried black beans.
He loves it. I think it’s tasty, but too spicy for me!
Things changed one day when Karen asked, “Have you tried the Huevos ala Frontera yet? It’s amazing. Corn sopas filled with refried beans with a poached egg on top and covered in a poblano cream sauce, topped with crispy chorizo and diced tomatoes!”
This is not my typical breakfast fare, as I tend to gravitate toward sweeter items, but she wouldn’t stop recommending it. She’s a food pusher like that. 🙂
One day as we were driving to Chuck’s discussing what we were going to order. (What? You don’t do that?) Jose decided he was going to try it. I was still in Bananas Foster mode at this time, so I said “Go ahead…it sounds too strange to me. I’ll be digging into a bowl of caramelized bananas and pecans with pancakes on the side!”
Welllll. I was wrong. It was absolutely delicious. I tried a bite and was completely blown away. The combination of flavors the poblano, the egg and the creamy refried beans with the slight crunch of the sopa. It worked together perfectly.
I have stopped looking for the perfect breakfast because I have found it. Every time I order it, it’s better than the time before. For me, Huevos ala Frontera from Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe is the BEST egg dish I’ve ever eaten.
If you’re in the Chicago area, try Chuck’s. I’d recommend breakfast if you only have one shot, but ALL the food is very good. I had a terrific chicken fried steak that came with mashed potatoes and a sage gravy that was spectacular. It’s in Burbank, IL not a far drive from the city. You won’t be disappointed.