Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great and affordable lunch.
Brunch is always served on the weekends, which makes me wonder—what do you call breakfast for lunch during the week? I vote we call it "blunch." Blunch still gets the point across, and at the same time, it isn't brunch. Let's make this happen. Blunch.
Moving right along, it can be difficult to find a place that does breakfast all day down in the Loop. Most places stop serving breakfast around 10:30 in the morning, which means no egg sandwiches or pancakes for your lunch, resulting in a blind Dennis rage expressed in this video clip. There are, of course, a few diners downtown, but not many. Thankfully, we have Yolk, a popular breakfast/brunch (and now blunch) spot that has four locations and counting; the Loop location is on South Michigan Avenue. All Yolk locations are open till 3 p.m., meaning you can get yourself a serious blunch.
Yolk's menu is huge, so it's difficult to cover all ground. There's French toast, five-egg omelets (yes, five eggs), pancakes, waffles and lots more; basically, all the blunch food groups live at Yolk. So we stuck to a few favorites for this facehole stuffing session. This bad boy is a crisp corned beef hash ($9.49) with your choice of eggs on top. The hash is satisfyingly crispy on the edges; the corned beef and potatoes are finely minced, rather than the chunkified versions you sometimes see out in the wild.
It's a great version of the diner staple, and bites mixed with egg hit that balanced combination of salty, savory, and rich goodness. It's no wonder breakfast makes such perfect hangover food.
If the corned beef hash wasn't enough, you can opt for a side of pancakes (included in price). Yolk's aren't particularly fluffy—they're a slightly denser, cake-like pancake. Ours came out a touch gummy in the middle, meaning they could have used a little more time on the griddle.
Eggs Benedict ($10.49) is the king of all breakfasts, brunches, and blunches. Those of you who don't agree, well, you're wrong. There are a variety of Eggs Benedict on the menu, but I stuck to the classic version. The English muffin is topped with a thick piece of Canadian bacon, a perfectly runny poached egg (heaven), and just enough hollandaise sauce to cover each egg. I mean, come on—eggs, ham, and an English muffin, covered in an egg yolk and butter sauce? Can it get any better? I'm ignoring the cardiologists who are shouting in back.
I'm happy to report that Yolk's version is a well-executed version of the classic. There aren't any surprises here, it's just a delicious plate that captures the Eggs Benedict experience as it should be. One of my favorite parts about eating Eggs Benedict is eating the side of potatoes coated in a mixture of egg yolk and excess hollandaise. The potatoes at Yolk are soft, not crispy, but they are cooked to the point where the interior is creamy and velvety in texture. Normally I like my potatoes crunchy, but these are good in a different way.
If you're just not in the mood for breakfast, you can have a salad, a burger, or a sandwich. The prime rib sandwich ($10.49) is their specialty, and it's a carnivore's delight. They pile a huge mound of prime rib on a pretzel bun, and top it off with grilled red onions and a peppercorn and horseradish sauce. Yes, it's as heavy as it looks. The prime rib is fatty, tender, and very rich—rich to the point where I would suggest stopping at half of it before a cardiologist springs out of the shadows to slap the sandwich out of your hands. The amount of meat is generous, and the peppery horseradish sauce helps cut through the richness of the beef while clearing your sinuses at the same time.
For a side, skip the siren call of the French fries and go straight to the onion chips. The onion chips are just small slices of onion which are battered and deep fried, resulting in a crunchy onion petal that's a lot of fun to eat. If you've ever had a Bloomin' Onion (crikey!) or an Awesome Blossom, this'll be familiar to you.
I'm one of those people who craves breakfast often, mostly because I could eat eggs all the time without getting sick of them. If you're craving brunch during the week, haul ass down to Yolk on your lunch break and treat yourself to a nice big blunch.