It's easy to find the Sweet Maple Cafe—just look for the large group of people waiting outside for a table. Located near UIC, the popular breakfast spot draws its diverse crowd from the college, the hospital and everywhere else within driving distance. Inside you'll find about 20 of those coveted wooden tables spread around a room that begs to be labeled "rustic."
The walls are whitewashed, with an intentional wear-and-tear look about them, with painted-over maple leaves dotting every few feet. A chalkboard hangs above the counter announcing the specials and drink menu, and the floor has a worn look to it as well. Most of the light streams from the picture window in the front, and since Sweet Maple is only open for breakfast and lunch, things stay pretty bright.
But the patrons don't line up outside for the decor. Breakfast, however, is another story. The menu isn't huge, but what it does have is plenty. Burrito-shaped omelets are a popular treat, and the spicy biscuits and gravy, listed as a side-dish, is a meal in itself. The French toast, made with Challa bread, is sweet and light, and most items come with a home-made biscuit (worth the wait all by itself).
A less-popular lunch menu features items like a fried chicken sandwich and other cafe fare, but hardly anyone really looks at that. With most prices hanging around the $10 mark, it's not the cheapest breakfast you'll find in the city, but the ample portions of tasty food make it worth every penny.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Mac McCormick