Diners in Illinois

Select Local Merchants

Breakfast for dinner, dinner for breakfast, lunch for lunch—when it comes to meal time, there are no restrictions at Lucky Grill. But instead of just sticking to American comfort favorites like most diners and Uncle Sam, Lucky's cooks bring on the variety with traditional Greek, Irish, and Italian dishes, in addition to the American classics. The Irish breakfast loads plates with rasher bacon, black-and-white pudding, and grilled tomatoes, while italian sausage or feta gives the traditional eggs and toast or crispy sandwich a Mediterranean spin. Later-day options include sandwiches and burgers, as well as broiled chops and pasta dishes.

4454 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

Baker Hill Pancake House stuffs a menu of breakfast and lunch favorites with fresh ingredients prepared with an eye toward sound nutrition. Traditional latke toppings of sour cream and applesauce nestle up to Idaho potato pancakes ($5.95), and plump blintzes packed with cheese ($6.25) double as pillows for those rethinking their decision to rise for breakfast. Cinnamon-apple pancakes ($7.25) become even more decadently sweet with classic maple syrup or a spectrum of fruit-flavored analogs.

1279 Dundee Ave
Elgin,
IL
US

All Aboard Diner

A model train tumbles from the kitchen of All Aboard Diner, announcing its arrival with a shrill “toot, toot!” As it chugs down a thin sliver of track that extends deep into the dining room, the contents of its cargo are revealed: hearty burgers, jumbo fried shrimp, and sandwiches stacked with corned beef. Children might have to pinch themselves to make sure they aren’t dreaming as the train finally halts at their table to drop off a meal. Everything at All Aboard Diner is 100% real, however—including the vintage photos of locomotives and neon signs pinned across the walls. The diner’s front window even contains a miniature town complete with another model train, a Ferris wheel, and a man twirling his mustache as he tries to make sense of his gargantuan visitors.

1510B 75th St
Downers Grove,
IL
US

The kitchen magicians at Cozy Corner conjure up an expansive, just-revamped menu of American breakfast favorites, savory sandwiches, and Mediterranean-inspired entrees. Treat hardworking nocturnal counting-sheep to a hearty breakfast of fluffy frittatas whipped with three eggs and layered with hash browns, veggies, and cheese ($9.75), or a delicate crepe as comfortingly stuffed with fresh strawberries, bananas, and sweetened cream cheese as a sleeping bag with pillows ($8.25). At lunch or dinner, eight kinds of burgers head a formidable pack of sandwiches, including tender gyros on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, onions, and tomatoes ($7.95), and the restaurant's namesake melt with a half-pound of beef served on marbled rye ($7.25¬–$8.75). A Grecian-style half chicken emerges from the broiler decked in Athenian sauce, roasted potatoes, and greek salad ($13.25).

12337 S Route 59
Plainfield,
IL
US

Au Cheval: A User's Guide

Elevated Diner Classics | 30+ International Beers | Housemade Bologna | Duck-Heart Gravy
Sample Menu
  • Appetizer: Crispy fries topped in mornay sauce, garlic aioli, and a fried farm-fresh egg
  • Entree: Fried housemade-bologna sandwich, which made Eater’s list of "The Most Iconic Sandwiches in Chicago"
  • Side: Housemade bread and butter pickles
  • Dessert: Mille-feuille—traditional French pastry layered with cream
Where to Sit: Slide a stool up to the polished zinc bar, where you can look in on the kitchen and watch chefs work their magic atop the griddle.

When to Go: Dine before 3 p.m. on the weekends to sample the chefs’ unique takes on brunch fare, like housemade granola and specially made mimosas.

The Vibe: Taking cues from classic diners and pedestrian brasseries, Au Cheval’s hip take on greasy spoons features exposed brick, antique-style light fixtures, oversized mirrors, and ceramic tiles shaped like bowties.

Behind the Name: In French, the name “Au Cheval” translates to “on horseback,” at least within most contexts. But once you enter a kitchen, the phrase takes on a new meaning: a dish with a fried egg on top. Au Cheval’s chefs certainly live up to that definition, since they put fried eggs atop a large portion of their menu.

Inside Tips
  • Plan on waiting: Huffington Post food critic David Rosengarten notes that waits often stretch past two hours, but that didn’t stop him from writing that his “mind was simply blown by Au Cheval.”
  • Order a beer with your eggs. Just because Au Cheval takes inspiration from the diners of days past doesn’t mean it sticks to the old-fashioned drink menu of coffee and coke. Explore the impressive beer list, which features more than 30 international brews on tap.
  • Follow the restaurant on Twitter to stay abreast of any unexpected changes to the restaurant’s hours or menu.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Tour the ever-changing gallery space at Elephant Room (704 S. Wabash Avenue), which showcases under-represented artists in the Chicago area.

After: Grab drinks and play games of giant jenga at Clover (722 W. Grand Avenue).

If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Head to Dillman’s (354 W. Hubbard Street), another brasserie-style restaurant (with a focus on classic deli fare) helmed by Au Cheval’s owner, Brendan Sodikoff.

800 W Randolph St
Chicago,
IL
US

Everything about Eggsperience Pancakes & Cafe is bright, warm, and sunny. Natural light floods the restaurant's eight locations, which sprinkle across Chicago and its suburbs like powdered sugar over a slice of french toast. Orange and yellow walls surround every dining room, and some locations have fireplaces, which make ideal places to sip Ghirardelli hot chocolate or espresso beverages. Even the food is colorful. Fresh fruits—either in solid or juice form—complement dishes such as the Mediterranean omelette, baked in the French style and filled with a vibrant medley of spinach, tomatoes, olives, and imported feta cheese.

Those omelettes, like what most of what comes from Eggsperience's kitchen, start with grade-AA, farm-fresh eggs. The chefs work magic with those eggs, whipping them into frittatas and poaching them for five different "Eggsquisite Benedicts." They also use them to create their signature pancake batter, but in this case, eggs are only the beginning. Strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits mix into the pancakes.

The creativity shown with those pancakes and egg dishes extends to dozens of other breakfast items, and diners could spend countless mornings at Eggsperience without boring their taste buds. The chefs don't stop at breakfast, either. They simply transition to lunch, when they grill Cajun avocado burgers and pair gourmet chicken-salad sandwiches with a soup of the day.

35 W West Ontario
Chicago,
IL
US