4 Best Breakfasts in Chicago

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and that’s especially true when you’re in Chicago.

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and that’s especially true when you’re in Chicago. (Okay, when you’re anywhere.) If you skip breakfast during your trip to Chicago, you’re going to miss out big time. Here’s the inside scoop on four of the best morning eats in the Windy City.

Exterior shot of a restaurant patio with silver tables and yellow and green plants; with a weekly special sidewalk sign outside the black gate

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Lou Mitchell’s

You won’t find a stuffy atmosphere at Lou Mitchell’s, but you will find some of the best comfort food in town. Lou’s has been serving up simple, delicious breakfasts since 1923. Just like the olden days, kids and ladies (sorry guys!) get some Milk Duds when they enter, and everyone gets donut holes while they wait. The menu is mostly what you’d expect: eggs, bacon, pancakes, omelets, and pastries. But Lou, may he rest in peace, kept up with the times. You’ll find some gluten-free foods on the menu as well as options for customers with nut or other food allergies.

Oak Tree

A staple of the Gold Coast neighborhood, the Oak Tree has slightly fancier décor, which is good if you’re treating someone and want to impress. Thankfully, the prices aren’t so outrageous that you won’t want to see the bill. To get there, head into the shopping high-rise at 900 North Michigan Avenue on the famed Miracle Mile, and ride to the sixth level for your chow and a view. The French toast is French, made with rich brioche bread, but the chicken liver and eggs dish is totally down to earth. And remember, they serve breakfast all day.


If you say “Nookie’s” people will ask you “Which one?” Nookie’s Snack Shack, which opened on Wells in 1973, grew to four locations and additional restaurants called Nookie’s Too and Nookie’s Tree. Although it’s open for lunch and dinner, breakfast is a treat. At the Wells location, try the chili avocado frittata or the crunchy brioche French toast — it’s covered in corn flakes for some extra breakfast pizzazz. At Nookie’s Edgewater or Tree, opt for the croissant French toast napoleon, which alternates croissant with vanilla cream cheese and strawberries. Mmmmm. Each restaurant has a different menu, although there’s some overlap.

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If you’re in a hurry, or even if you’re not, Firecakes Donuts makes a great breakfast — with coffee, of course. There are a lot of good donuts — doughnuts? — in Chicago, so choosing Firecakes over, say, Doughnut Vault or Do-Rite Donuts, may win you some enemies. But why choose? Try them all and see what you like best.

Back to Firecakes. Expect more than just the classic flavors. Think maple-glazed pineapple and bacon, Valrhona chocolate and espresso cream, and candied pepper bacon and maple long john. Yes, they have plainer donuts too. But they also change out the menu to add seasonal flavors: eggnog, king cake, mimosa bombs, peach cobblers, and Easter egg donuts. Lucky for you there’s a handful of locations, plus a donut truck. Want your morning calcium? Try a delicious donut ice cream sandwich.

Where else can you eat great breakfast on your travels? Check out Dollar on Facebook to discover more delicious food from coast to coast.

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