I awoke early on what promised to be the first real "summer" day in Chicago. The sun was bright and I gathered my paper and a new book, and headed to grab a coffee and some breakfast.
Unfortunately, a heavy summer storm emerged and I retreated back into my house to do some chores. The rain passed quickly, and while the sky remained dim it was a warm day. I wandered out to my favorite local breakfast place, Ina's. Ina Pinkey's accolades are numerous and Chicagoland diners have been titillated since she was crowned the "breakfast queen" several decades ago.
The charm of this West Loop institution is like a country homestead in the city. One of the unique trademark salt-and-pepper shakers sits on each table. The staff is friendly and efficient, and nice touches like Ina's signature baked goods and a full carafe of coffee on each table appear within seconds of arrival. I should note that while I have been to Ina's on dozens and dozens of occasions for breakfast, brunch and lunch, I have never been there for dinner, despite the award-winning fried chicken and other good homestyle options.
So, I hope you don't mind if I focus on the sweet and savory breakfast options for this post. Whether it is the signature dishes like "Heavenly Hots" (thin pancakes with hot fruit compote), Scrapple or Frittata; the fine omelets and other baked goods; or the fresh made soups, salads and sandwiches - Ina and her kitchen turn out wonderful, fresh (and largely organic) treats. The coffee is strong and good, and all-natural, fresh-squeezed orange, tomato, grapefruit and other juices are on hand.
It is the perfect spot for a casual family gathering, an informal business luncheon, or even a quiet spot to read a newspaper or a book. This morning, I had the pleasure of sampling the oatmeal pancakes with blueberries and fresh syrup while I read an exceptional newly published tome (The Whole Five Feet, but Christopher Beha). The perfect start to a weekend.