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The 101 Best Breakfasts In America: The Midwest

The 101 Best Breakfasts In America: The Midwest: Sean Noyce

Sean Noyce

From addictive cinnamon rolls at a Swedish restaurant in Chicago, to comfort food in Cleveland, Playboy editors and contributors have scoured the Midwest to find the region’s best breakfasts. It didn’t matter if the places were high-end or hole in the wall, all they had to be was good. Oh, and we did the same for the Northeast, South, and West. Did your favorite restaurant make the cut as one of America’s 101 Breakfast spots?

1. Leaf Kitchen
Iowa City, IA
Appearances can be deceiving. Take Leaf Kitchen’s unassuming storefront in a strip-mall shared with All Pets Veterinary Clinic and across the street from the I.C. Pit Stop gas station. It’s the visual opposite of the breakfast fare within, delicate yet hearty versions of classics, often made with local ingredients. Get the eggs benedict with poached salmon and revel in perfect balance of lemon and buttery luxury in the hollandaise and, perhaps more impressively, the fact that you’re eating tender, flavorful poached salmon in a landlocked state. –Rachel Z. Arndt

2. Machine Shed
Davenport, IA
The Hungry Man’s Breakfast is truth in advertising. There’s no need to choose between sausage, bacon and ham, you get all three. Along with two pancakes. Then three eggs. Oh, choice of two sides (choose biscuits with sausage gravy and hash browns). And if you say “I love eggs,” they’ll give you an additional egg, free of charge. What a world!

Gadget Girl/Flickr Creative Commons

3. Ann Sather
Chicago, IL
You’re here for the cinnamon rolls, plain and simple. Most breakfast entrées come with a choice of two sides—so make sure the fluffy, decadent rolls are one of them. Don’t stop there though. To get the full cinnamon roll experience, order the French Toast Fantasy, where instead of bread, the buns are battered and griddled, then filled with mascarpone and topped with fresh berries and granola. –Jeremy Repanich

4. Bongo Room
Chicago, IL
Like it loud? Make a beeline for this long-time Chicago brunch institution, where the din is deafening and the food makes an equally bold statement. Just about every plate is decadent and delicious—with a creative presentation to match. Regulars rave about the Oreo & Praline flapjacks, BLT Benedict, and Chocolate Tower French toast (served with banana crème brulee sauce and ample chocolate shavings). Diners can also build their own omelettes with 25+ ingredient options. –Jen Jones Donatelli

Longman & Eagle

Longman & Eagle

5. Longman & Eagle
Chicago, IL
You get off the Blue Line on the Logan Square stop, spin around in a circle to look at a blank canvas of a neighborhood and wonder how one of America’s best restaurants is just across the street. In fact, if you spin too fast, you’ll miss the subtlety labeled Longman & Eagle altogether. When you go inside the small restaurant on the corner, you see the warmly inviting and well-worn stylings of dark wood and ample whiskey behind the bar that so define this era of craft food and cocktails. The rustic decor stands in relief to the refined dishes, served on gleaming white plates, like the excellent Tete de Cochon, which is pork cheek over porridge with a perfectly fried egg perched on top. Order the Amagro Caribe to accompany your dish, a cocktail made with aged rum, Cynar, Tuaca, both lemon and lime juice, and sweetened with Demerara sugar. –Jeremy Repanich

6. Milk and Honey
Chicago, IL
The charming little counter service cafe in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood has a cozy atmosphere complete with a functioning fireplace. You can grab breakfast there seven days a week, but they serve their signature dish on the weekends only, huevos rancheros, casserole style. Inside a large ramekin, scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa picante, corn tortillas are baked with monterey jack and cheddar cheeses on top. –Jeremy Repanich

Walker Bros.

Walker Bros.

7. Walker Bros.
Wilmette, IL
The first location of this Chicago-north-suburbs mini-chain opened more than 50 years ago, and very little has changed since then. Every weekend, you’ll find a line out the door of families waiting to feast on the enormous apple cinnamon pancake, a plate-filling confection that becomes even more decadent if you have it topped with ice cream. Or try the German pancake, a huge, bowl-shaped, paper-thin, melt-in-your-mouth crepe-ish thing. –Jason Horn

Maxine

Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles

8. Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles
Indianapolis, IN
Attached to a gas station right outside of Indy’s downtown core, Maxine’s is your death row breakfast (we mean that as a compliment). Take the indulgent Max Waffler for example: A giant waffle sandwich stuffed with a fried egg and topped with cheese and choice of turkey, bacon or sausage. The whole menu is similarly salacious soul food—chicken, catfish, pancakes, omelets, grits, green tomatoes—probably all fried, but definitely all served with Hoosier hospitality. Ask about the homemade peach butter and maybe some insulin. –Keith Gribbins

9. Eggtc.
Kansas City, MO
With probably the best name on the list, Eggtc. is a staple of weekend morning dining (hungover or not!) in Kansas City. If you’re feeling short on calories, dig in to the Southwestern Benny, which is a biscuit topped with scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, and chorizo gravy. Sure you might have a stroke, but you’ll feel good doing it! If you’re one of those “healthy” people, Eggtc. has tons of sandwiches and salads, and a killer coffee bar for everyone else. –Matt Shirley

The Donut Whole/Facebook

The Donut Whole/Facebook

10. The Donut Whole
Wichita, KS
The inventive, handmade cake batter donuts are available 24 hours a day via the drive-thru window, but the place is best when the doors are open. The Donut Whole not only supports local farmers by sourcing most of its ingredients from within the borders of its home state, it also promotes local musicians by hosting shows in its Bantam Lounge at least twice a week. So catch a show, grab a coffee and make give the Cherry Citrus donut a try. –Pamela Horton

11. Brooklyn St. Local
Detroit, MI
This is a list of the best breakfasts in America, but our neighbors to the north have made some contributions to the meal as well. Luckily Brooklyn St. Local, which sits just across the Detroit River from Canada has you covered. The restaurant makes its own peameal bacon, which is almost impossible to find in the U.S., The brined pork loin is sliced and rolled in cornmeal before being fried up to make an amazing Eggs Benedict. Get it with a side of that other Canadian specialty, poutine, fries that are topped with beef or mushroom gravy and organic cheese curds. –Justin Tejada

Hudson Cafe

Hudson Cafe

12. The Hudson Cafe
Detroit, MI
Motor City classists might laud the likes of Cadillac Square Diner, but the new and progressive Detroit in us says visit The Hudson Cafe. They serve red velvet pancakes for Christ’s sake, with cream cheese drizzle and dusted coca power. What’s the opposite? Catfish and waffles? They serve that too. The Hudson specializes in “modern brunch” (only open 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m.), and its menu is redefining the most important meal of the day—from apple walnut stuffed French toast to crab and shrimp omelets with cheesy grits. –Keith Gribbins

13. Triple Rock Social Club
Minneapolis, MN
Bolster yourself with a late brunch at the Triple Rock Social Club. Owned and operated by a member of punk band Dillinger Four, the bar’s menu reads like Vice magazine. Even straightforward offerings of eggs, meat (or veggie substitute), home fries and toast are packaged under names like “The Most Important Meal of the Day (Especially After What You Did Last Night).” Both the “old bar” and music venue sides of the Triple Rock have table service until 3 p.m., so you’ve got plenty of time to replenish via hair of the dog. Another way to ease your hangover is with its spicy bloody mary and awesome biscuits and gravy, while reveling in the intense Bowie–Faith No More–Otis Redding–Metallica hodgepodge blaring from the nearby jukebox. –Sarah Brumble

14. Wise Acre Eatery
Minneapolis, MN Nearly all the ingredients Wise Acre’s delicious CSA Hash (eggs scrambled with herbs that’s served over vegetables and paired with a healthy slab of cottage bacon) is sourced from Tangletown Farms about 100 miles outside of Minneapolis.

Rooster

Rooster

15. Rooster
St. Louis, MO
Located about halfway between Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play, and the Rams’s home, the Edward Jones Dome, Rooster is a popular spot to hit up before heading to a game in St. Louis. The cafe specializes in crepes, both sweet and savory, like the mo.made German style sausage crepe with spiced apples and cheddar. –Erick Roff

16. Bagel Street Deli
Athens, OH
Located near the campus of Ohio University, Bagel Street Deli is where students go to fight Saturday and Sunday morning hangovers and alumni return to reminisce—and fight hangovers. The proprietors offer more than 60 delicious, cheekily named bagel sandwiches. Tom’s Turkey (turkey, choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo) is a local favorite. The soft drink fountain wisely serves Gatorade. -Joe Donatelli

17. The Echo Restaurant
Cincinnati, OH
Historic Hyde Park Square has transformed into Cincinnati’s hip boutique district (perfect for antique rug shopping), but the Echo has barely changed a bit over the last seven decades. It’s still that classic, friendly, neighborhood breakfast bus stop, serving up great home cooking at reasonable prices. Its breakfast anytime philosophy is complemented by all the staples, with a nod to Cincy’s Bavarian heritage, so be sure to try Giler’s German Greats (two eggs, potato cakes, baked apples, toast and goetta). –Keith Gribbins

18. Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
Cleveland, OH
Fitting its rock and roll pedigree, Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom & Tavern is the marquee music venue in the upper Midwest (where the Black Keys played their first show), but unbeknownst to most, its vegan-friendly Sunday brunch (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) is equally air guitar worthy. A live DJ spins tunes while a flannel-clad clientele feasts on from-scratch biscuits and grits, savory vegetable tart du jour and the signature Eggs Beachland. Stiff alcoholic drinks only add to the rock star ambiance. –Keith Gribbins

Grumpy

Grumpy’s

19. Grumpy’s Cafe
Cleveland, OH
Imagine that Norman Rockwell neighborhood in the movie classic A Christmas Story. That’s actually Tremont, a suburb in Cleveland. Down the street from the actual house in the film (now a museum) sits Grumpy’s Cafe—exuding everything blue collar about the Rust Belt and its love of home-style comfort food. It serves breakfast all week (brunch over the weekend) with a crazy selection of pancakes and omelets (try the pumpkin pancakes, jambalaya omelet or the popular Walker Hash). Just don’t leave without groping the leg lamp in the window. –Keith Gribbins

20. Mickie’s Dairy Bar
Madison, WI
It’s a rite of passage. If you attend the University of Wisconsin, you must drink all day, scream your lungs out for the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium, drink more after the game and then spend the next morning nursing that hangover at Mickie’s. Make your own scrambler and order up a chocolate shake. Repeat for the next home game.* –Kendra Zager*

Blue

Blue’s Egg/Facebook

21. Blue’s Egg
Milwaukee, WI
While Blue’s does everything well, clearly justifying its long wait on the weekends, its signature dish, Hoppel Poppel, is a must try. Tell me you’re not hungry after reading that they combine scrambled eggs, cream, zesty sausage, cherry-wood bacon, caramelized onions, shredded potatoes, spinach, then top the thing with a ladle of hollandaise. It’s a mess and it’s fantastic. –David Lassen

22. McDonald’s
Airports everywhere
Hear us out: Morning flights suck, and in the pre-dawn struggle to pack, get a cab and make it through security, there’s no time for breakfast. Enter the sausage (or bacon), egg and cheese biscuit—the Platonic ideal of fast-food breakfast, a gut-bomb of salt, fat and meat guaranteed to improve your mood. There’s an outlet in pretty much every terminal of every airport in the world, and let’s face it, what else are you gonna eat? A sad, stale Starbucks pastry? A [shudder] Burger King Croissan’wich? Pro tip: Eat two and the subsequent food coma will see you napping peacefully all the way to your destination. –Jason Horn

23. Rundown Motel Lobby
Middle of Nowhere, USA
No one planned to end up here. But on a long road trip one can only drive so far before exhaustion sets in and prudence rears its ugly head telling you to pull off the next exit and get some sleep. The next morning, there’s a free breakfast with sad pastries. Some orange juice. A Dannon yogurt cup. Fox News is on the little TV and there’s no clicker in sight to change the channel. But if you pulled off the right exit, and stumbled upon the right hotel, alongside the disappointing food is a bucket of batter and an industrial-looking Belgian waffle iron, calling for you to pour too much into it and make a mess. In that moment, at that time, a hot waffle on a frigid morning to gird oneself before embarking on the road again to an actual desired destination, is a godsend. –Jeremy Repanich


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