Mary's Cafe looks like a small, hometown cafe with its tiny, two-person tables set up along perpendicular, porcelain-tiled walls from left to right. It even feels
like a hometown cafe, its down-to-earth atmosphere only emboldened by the complete and utter friendliness of the waitstaff. The only real difference between this restaurant and, say, The 2nd Street Cafe in downtown Ottumwa, Iowa, is the location: Mary's Cafe is barely a block away from the high-traffic hustle and bustle of North Michigan Avenue. For those Chicagoans wanting to experience something less concerned with style than it is with quality, both in terms of food and service, or for those vacationing, Midwestern rural folk who want a home away from home, this is the place to put your money down.
Did I mention that breakfast is served all day long? Who doesn't love that? Besides weirdos, of course. As for the rest of us, breakfast options easily take up a majority of the menu here, with prices that range from $3.55 (dry cereal with milk) to $12.95 (skirt steak and eggs). Options include eggs any way you like 'em (in omelettes, with steak, scrambled along with diced ham—that's Mary's special, $9.95), along with plates made 'from [the] griddle' and breakfast sides.
But this is an all-day cafe; you've got to know they serve way more than 'just breakfast' here. Charbroiled burgers are the next most popular alternative, with four choices in all, each served on a toasted sesame bun with lettuce, tomatoes, homemade cole slaw and thin and crispy French fries soaked in the most delicious grease you've ever swallowed. Then there are the plethora of sandwich options: 14 super sandwiches (from $6.95 to $8.95), three hot sandwiches ($8.95 each), five triple decker sandwiches (we suggest the turkey or combo club) or the four steak sandwiches. And that, as they say, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg with a menu that refuses to quit. Without a doubt, Mary's Cafe and its massive, widely-varied menu were made for that picky punk in your party who has to have it his way or no way at all.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Benjamin Andrew Moore