Family owned and operated since opening in 1991, Uncle Mike's Place might be the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast and lunch with your family in the city. Myself, I couldn't resist inviting my own Uncle Mike along for breakfast one crisp autumn morning. Owner Mike Grajewski wasn't in yet, but his niece Aileen, the manager, was and she was more than happy to answer all our questions. In fact, the entire staff of Uncle Mike's Place was very friendly and treated us, well, like family. Except for maybe the chefs, who stood in back and barked when dishes were ready. Then again, they sort of reminded me of my dad when he carves the turkey at Thanksgiving and orders us all to get in line.
The restaurant is divided into two amply sized dining rooms, ensuring you never have to wait more than 10 minutes for "Chicago's Best Breakfast." The wood-paneled and tiled walls and old-fashioned tin ceiling give the space a very warm, intimate feeling, and all the eccentric decorations – from the wall-mounted antique saxophone to the mysterious blowfish that sits beside an Al Capone bobble head doll - lend a very personal touch. In short, you really feel like you're in a family kitchen. The loyal cult of regulars only adds to this vibe.
I ordered the pumpkin pancakes, which were a lovely golden color and perfectly gooey inside, while my Uncle Mike opted for the self-proclaimed, "best damned marinated skirt steak east of the Pecos." The portions were hearty and about $10. Other favorites include the Filipino breakfast of two eggs, garlic fried rice and your choice of longaniza or tocino, both Filipino specialty cured meats. For lunch, try any of the classic sandwiches or salads. Dine-in, carry-out, and delivery offered. I only wish my family was so accommodating.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Amanda Nyren