Advertise with us

Enjoying this blog? Check out the rest of the Travel & Culture Channel Subscribe to this Feed

The Chicago Traveler

Lou Mitchell’s

by Matt B on October 6th, 2007

Dishing out breakfast since 1923, Lou Mitchell’s practically has the same menu that they started with. Some of the waitresses have been working there for over 20 years, and the decor? Beige booths, white-speckled black tile floors, plastic tablecloths, and plastic plants. Lou’s isn’t about fine dining; this is just good food with an old-Chicago charm.

Lou Mitchell'sI’ll admit, I have mixed feelings about this Chicago classic. When you enter the restaurant, you will encounter a line. There’s just no avoiding it. Now, some may argue that a line is a symbol of good food, that the restaurant has something worthy enough for people to wait for. And while the line usually moves quickly, there have been incidents of waits as long as 30 minutes. Personally, I’m not a fan of waiting. I visit a restaurant because I’m hungry now, not because I’ll be hungry half an hour from now.

If you’re as impatient as I am, there is something to ease your waiting pain. Candy! The Milk Dud factory used to be in the area. Mr. Mitchell wanted to give candy to the women and children, so it only made sense to hand out Milk Duds. Mr. Mitchell has passed on, and the Milk Duds have moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania, but the restaurant still hands them out as part of tradition. The hostess will also come by with a cute basket full of doughnut “holes.” Let me tell you, those things are so good, I could stand in line all day if it meant getting full on the tasty treats.

Lou Mitchell'sWhen it finally comes time to be seated, I cross my fingers and hope to all that is good that we will be led to a booth. That’s because the tables are set up side by side, in a community seating fashion. Your dining companion is across from you, and complete strangers sit directly beside you. Eep! I feel awkward sometimes, interrupting strangers’ conversations to ask them to pass the sugar. Some folks enjoy the sense of community and the chance of meeting new, interesting people. Your dining experience will all depend on your personal space preferences.

The food? The thick-cut French toast is actually grilled, not fried. Egg dishes come in skillets, with potatoes, plenty of bacon or sausage, and toast that is slathered with butter. The omelets have a well-earned reputation, served big and fluffy and filled with all kinds of ingredients, including cottage cheese and sweet apples. And the old-school diner atmosphere somehow makes the food taste all that much better. However, I think Lou Mitchell’s is a victim of its own hype. A resident of Chicago for almost 80 years, Lou’s has generated plenty of word-of-mouth action. But it’s still just a diner at heart, so don’t come expecting unique, blow-you-away flavors. This is just simple, homemade food.

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) gerardniemira, mo pie

Lou Mitchell’s ($): 565 W Jackson Blvd; 312-939-3111
Mon ' Sat: 5:30 a.m. ' 3:00 p.m.
Sun: 7:00 a.m. ' 3:00 p.m.
Street parking
Public trans: Bus # 7, 38, 60, 124, 125, 126, 156, 157 or Blue Line train (Clinton)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

POSTED IN: Restaurants

3 opinions for Lou Mitchell’s

  • Wholly Frijoles
    Nov 24, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    [...] I'm not kidding. I tried just dropping in and found a minimum wait of 60 minutes. (As I've said before, I'm not someone who waits. I visit a restaurant because I'm hungry now, not because I'll be [...]

  • Hungry? Chicago
    Feb 20, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    [...] Chicago Pat's Pizzeria & Ristorante Superdawg Drive-In Lou Mitchell's Hot Doug's Ethiopian Diamond Mariegold Bakery & Fast [...]

  • "Top Chef: Chicago" Breaks a Few Eggs
    May 28, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    [...] Lou Mitchell's has been well-known for its breakfasts for the past 80 years. This Chicago classic serves up great diner food with a neighborhood charm not commonly found in the downtown Loop. For more on this local favorite, check out my blog entry here. [...]

Have an opinion? Leave a comment: