Near The Loop & Magnificent Mile
You can get a good (and upscale) breakfast at one of the hotels near the Loop or Magnificent Mile. Favorite spots for business travelers looking to impress include The Café, at the Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Place (tel. 312/280-8800); and Drake Bros. Restaurant at The Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton Place, at Michigan Avenue (tel. 312/787-2200).
A more informal choice in the Loop, overlooking the El tracks, is Heaven on Seven, where the Cajun and Creole specialties supplement an enormous diner-style menu.
For brunch with some soul, head to House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St., at Kinzie Street (tel. 312/527-2583), for its popular Sunday gospel brunch. To guarantee seating, it's a good idea to book a spot 2 weeks in advance.
A local breakfast favorite since 1923 is Lou Mitchell's, 565 W. Jackson Blvd. (tel. 312/939-3111; loumitchellsrestaurant.com), across the south branch of the Chicago River from the Loop, a block farther west than Union Station. You'll be greeted at the door with a basket of doughnut holes and Milk Duds so that you can nibble while waiting for a table.
For a Southern-style breakfast of spicy red eggs, cheese grits, or biscuits and gravy, head over to Wishbone, a family-friendly, laid-back spot in a converted warehouse building in the West Loop.
Lincoln Park & The North Side
A perfect breakfast or brunch spot if you're heading up to Wrigleyville for a Cubs game or a walk through Lincoln Park is Ann Sather, famous for its homemade cinnamon rolls.
The Nookies restaurants are Chicago favorites for all the standard morning fare. Locations include 2114 N. Halsted St., in Lincoln Park (tel. 773/327-1400; www.nookiesrestaurants.net); 1748 N. Wells St., in Old Town (tel. 312/337-2454); and 3334 N. Halsted St., in Lakeview (tel. 773/248-9888). Especially in Old Town, be prepared to stand outside on the weekends until a table opens for you. It's quite a scene on the sidewalk, which is packed with baby strollers, dogs on leashes, large groups chatting, and singles reading the newspaper.
Go to Orange, 3231 N. Clark St., at Belmont (tel. 773/549-4400; orangerestaurantchicago.com), for a fun twist on breakfast foods. Try the Green Eggs and Ham -- eggs scrambled with pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella, and pancetta. There's a kids' menu, too, making this a popular choice for families. But a warning to all those with hungry kids (and parents): Come early or late; the line for a table winds outside during prime weekend brunch hours.
Lincoln Park's Toast, 746 W. Webster St., at Halsted Street (tel. 773/935-5600), is homey yet slightly funky. Pancakes come in all sorts of tempting varieties, from lemon/poppy seed drizzled with honey to the "pancake orgy," a strawberry, mango, and banana-pecan pancake topped with granola, yogurt, and honey. Come early on weekends, though; by 10:30am or so, there's guaranteed to be a lengthy wait.
Wicker Park / Bucktown
The brightly colored and artwork-adorned Earwax Café, 1561 N. Milwaukee Ave., at North and Damen avenues (tel. 773/772-4019; www.earwax-cafe.com), is a Wicker Park institution serving everything from salmon Benedict to vegan options such as the popular tofu scramble. Don't let the unappetizing name, the proliferation of hipsters, or the dearth of meat deter you from this place. The food is delicious, the back patio is delightful, and the tattooed and pierced waitstaff could not be nicer.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.