From the buzzing neon sign to the gleaming stainless steel to the lonely patrons hunkered down over some of the best hash browns around, Palace conjures "Nighthawks," Edward Hopper's famous painting, more than any other Chicago restaurant.
Open since 1938, it's an equal-opportunity joint frequented by holstered-and handcuff-clad footmen from local police precincts, pre-Blackhawks and Bulls game crowds, West Loop regulars, UIC students, Oprah and even the occasional Vice President (Al Gore).
Service is quick and courteous, but owner George apes the sign in the window, which says "sorry, we’re open," making sure to keep his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
The unanimously lauded breakfast features fluffy omelettes, three egg affairs studded with hand-cut mushrooms or fresh sausage, griddled crunchy toast from the sizzling flattop and endless cups of steaming coffee. But lunch and dinner options, like moist rotisserie chicken, crispy fried perch and creamy milkshakes, are just as good.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant