Lou Mitchell’s feeds the soul of Chicago

Pancakes and coffee at Lou Mitchell's, Chicago (photo by Sheila Scarborough)I arrived in Chicago at the ridiculous hour of 9:30 am for a blogging conference that kicked off that night.

Since the Southwest Airlines hub at Midway Airport is so much closer to downtown than O’Hare, my suitcase-rolling, laptop-toting self was inside the Loop by 10:30 or so.

Breakfast, anyone?

Entrance to Lou Mitchell's in Chicago, corner of Jackson and Jefferson (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Time to head to Lou Mitchell’s – serving solid fare (and breakfast all day) since 1923. They’re at the corner of Jackson and Jefferson, right at the start of old Route 66.

This old-timey restaurant was perfect for me as a harried traveler who wanted to sit down, drink coffee and inhale a solid meal.  It has quirks that have been in place for years – all women awaiting their Naugahyde-clad seat get a small box of Milk Duds, and all patrons can partake from a basket of fresh, sugar-powdered doughnut holes upon arrival.

The day I visited, the Thursday special was Fresh Turkey Dinner with all of the usual turkey plus trimmings like yams and stuffing, but I was all about the breakfast (pecan pancakes, specifically.)

There are banana, buckwheat and silver dollar (small) pancakes, French toast, waffles, cereals, bagel with a schmear, biscuits and gravy, “fries” (hash browns) with Greek feta and cheddar cheeses, pastries….

My pancakes at Lou Mitchell's in Chicago (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

I haven’t even gotten to the eggs yet, many of which are brought to tables in big skillets, right off of the stovetop.

The wait staff was super-efficient, and I love a joint where they call me “honey” even when they’re younger than I am. They bustle about in their straightforward white shirts, black pants and black aprons embroidered with names like “Candy,” “Alfonso” or “Sheri.”

Chicago Cubs earrings swing from a few waitresses’ ears, and the music that you can occasionally hear over the speakers sounds like Lawrence Welk.

Diagonally across the street is Union Station, where you’ll find this staircase from a famous gangster scene with a baby carriage in the movie The Untouchables.

Can you find a more purely Chicago spot?!

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