Waffles might be their only offering, but Wâfel is anything but a formal restaurant. Instead, it's a counter-service café, serving steamy beverages from its full coffee bar and selling virtually nothing that requires a knife and fork to eat. Instead, each of their waffles are "fold and go"; that is, sandwiched firmly around their ingredients so every selection only requires two hands to devour. The waffle artisans craft sweet and savory sandwiches from traditional Brussels waffles, which are leavened with yeast for a puffier, airier consistency than the standard American waffle. The recipe might be traditional, but what fills these sandwiches is anything but—selections run the gamut from scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheddar to fried chicken and maple syrup to The Elvis, a blend of bacon, peanut butter, banana, and honey. For a more dessert-like treat, try a Liège waffle. This style, also puffed up with yeast, is thicker and doughier than its Brussels brethren, and contains imported Belgian pearl sugar that caramelizes on the waffle iron to form a crispy exterior that contrasts with the soft interior, much like a sunbathing marshmallow Peep. These waffles are delicious on their own, or dipped in a rotating menu of sauces such as apple-cinnamon cream cheese, jam, and––of course––Belgian chocolate.
A broad range of Italian and American classics fill out a Teena Mia's menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. Rich cups of Lavazza coffee accompany breakfasts such as stacks of pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and fried-egg sandwiches stacked with bacon, ham, or sausage. Their pizzas carry legions of toppings such as sausage, pineapple, jalapeños, and zucchini on a bed of melted shredded cheese. Customers can build their own pasta dishes by pairing their choice of noodle with rich marinara, alfredo, or vodka sauces or by hiring an architect to draft some blueprints on phyllo dough.
It’s rush hour at Ogilvie Transportation Center, and from the Canal Street entrance, you have a great view of late commuters sprinting to catch their train. For those who have a few minutes to spare, however, the long concourse offers more than a ride out to the suburbs. Explorers who follow the Chicago French Market’s red and blue sign will find the cute French café—Le Cafe du Marche.
Helmed by the owner of the popular restaurant, Bistro Voltaire, Le Cafe du Marche offers decadent French café fare, including housemade quiche, organic soups, and tuna niçoise and duck-confit sandwiches. The menu, which mirrors classic dishes from the cafés of France, is no doubt more casual than its parent restaurant. However, the attention to detail remains unchanged between the two establishments—chefs manually torch the sugar atop each housemade crème brûlée.