Brunch time: 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Cost: $5-$9 per person
CJ's Eatery probably still would be the only place around where you could order a Lavazza cappuccino with your fried chicken and waffles. Here, in a bright, loft-like space with exposed brick walls and ductwork, trend meets tradition. There's a fancy coffee bar that churns out those foamy Lavazza delights. But there's also a old-school chalkboard shouting out comfort-food specials like bread pudding. And, while efficient, the casual, chatty servers lend a down-home feel to the place. The crowd is just as comfortable: young couples easing into their lazy Sundays over pancakes, groups of women catching up over coffee and families filling up on bargain breakfasts.
The cuisine: A breakfast burrito for $3.50? We had to do a double-take. And when we did, we discovered it wasn't an aberration. There were more options under $4--lots more! We went for the gravy and biscuits, two homemade biscuits smothered in rich sausage gravy ($3.50). We could've walked away satisfied after sopping up every last bit of gravy with those buttery biscuits, but we're glad we didn't. Then we wouldn't have tried the breakfast casserole ($5.50), a hearty baked dish of eggs, cheese, sausage, tomatoes, onions and peppers that reminded us that breakfast doesn't have to be fancy--or expensive--to be darn good. Weekend brunch options, including chicken and waffles with pecan-maple syrup and huevos rancheros over a crispy fried tortilla, top out at $7.
Better than a bloody mary: We loved the homemade blueberry lemonade ($1.99), which tasted more like fresh blueberry juice with a splash of lemon than a typical flavored lemonade. CJ's is BYOB; if you want to booze it up at brunch, we suggest bringing vodka for this one. CJ's charges a $2 corkage fee.
The wait: None.
Loved it: Sticky-sweet banana bread pudding, topped with peanut butter anglaise ($3.49). Who says you can't have dessert before noon?
Hated it: Standard-issue restaurant booths, tables and chairs that didn't quite jive with the otherwise bright, modern space.
[ M. Kathleen Pratt is the Metromix print editor. ] email@example.com
Brunch at CJ's Eatery
Rise and save at this new Humboldt Park eatery
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