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.
Grange Hall Burger Bar began as the brainchild of a group of restaurateurs who wanted to bring a great burger to the West Loop. While investigating America's meat industry, they realized that their idea of a great burger is made of entirely farm-to-table ingredients. They decided to use locally raised free-range beef and turkey, and in sculpting the perfect burger, the farm-to-table philosophy became a core tenet of the restaurant that extended to the rest of the menu. The staff members make veggie and legume burgers, fresh-churned artisanal ice creams, and seasonal housemade pies with ingredients that come from as close to Chicago as possible. Some of the produce they preserve, jarring it as jams and jellies. Others they add into farmer's dinners and breakfasts, which are hearty meals inspired by the hard-working folks who raised the ingredients. Every day, the eatery crafts a unique hot dog with market-fresh ingredients that are often acquired by the chef on drives through surrounding states. The recipe always starts with a grass-fed beef sausage, with every other step determined by the ingredients on hand.
To many, the idea of French cuisine inspires images of stuffy maître 'ds and three-figure bottles of burgundy. Those people might be surprised to stumble upon Maude's Liquor Bar, which Brendan Sodikoff—the gastronomic mastermind behind Gilt Bar—designed to embody "a dive bar in Paris," according to Chicago Magazine. In its second floor digs, mismatched chandeliers cast a low glow over salvaged subway tiles and exposed brick walls as diners savor a contemporary French-American menu that its creators describe as “straightforward and sexy with playful twinges.” Though the food is more than worth the wait on weekend nights, the drink list is where Maude’s truly shines. Classic cocktails, such as the Sazerac and the St. Germain Fizz, mingle with unique libations such as the Smash, a drink brimming with mint leaves, citrus wedges, and a choice of spirits ranging from whiskey to chartreuse. Of course, no French dive would be complete without a wine selection, and Maude's list of about 30 reds, whites, and champagnes doesn't disappoint.
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.
Flip Crêpes got its start on the Chicago Farmers Markets circuit in 2003, slinging its warm and sweet or savory treats to steadily growing flocks of customers. Eventually, the company outgrew its humble beginnings and expanded to a location inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center, where customers stop in for the crowd-pleasing crepes alongside a burgeoning roster of sandwiches and paninis. Four distinct menus address any and all cravings the day might present, including selections that tackle breakfast munchies with eggs and bacon, a passion for the savory with toasted options, salad cravings with fresh and crisp selections, and sweet teeth with desserts chock-full of Nutella, strawberries, and dulce de leche. The tender crepes will only wrap their eggy arms around healthy, high-quality ingredients, so the chefs avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other undesirable foodstuffs.