A Squared: My Favorite Things: Brunch at Meli Cafe, Chicago

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Favorite Things: Brunch at Meli Cafe, Chicago

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In a city like Chicago with so many eclectic neighborhoods, hundreds of great restaurants, and frigid winter mornings, brunch is a big deal. In the 6+ years that I have lived in this city I have eaten a lot of brunch at a lot of places-- the good, the bad, and the now closed. But there are a few that I always come back to and Meli Cafe is one of those places. Meli is at the top of my list for brunch spots in the city. I have brought my family here, friends visiting from out of town, have dined here with my husband and city friends a number of times, and have recommended this place to a handful of friends looking for new brunch options. Clearly, I am a fan!

Meli Cafe has 3 locations in downtown Chicago: the original in Greektown, a second location in River North, and the third in Printer's Row where Alex and I recently stopped in for brunch on a blustery Saturday. This location is really beautiful. After dining at their River North location numerous times, Alex and I were surprised by how large the space is in Printer's Row-- and how upscale it looks. Plush chairs and booths, a sleek bar, and great decor touches like a central stone wall around the kitchen and modern lighting give this restaurant an elevated feel. Also, this location includes a full bar and is open for dinner service too.  Executive chef Frank Georgacopoulos says that like their breakfast and lunch, dinner service at Meli focuses on classic dishes with fresh Mediterranean influences. I can't wait to go back and give their evening menu a try!

We started brunch with a little caffeine fix: Pepsi for Alex and a cup of coffee for me. The folks at Meli also brought over a couple of wheat grass shots for us to try as well. While wheat grass isn't typically our thing, I will try anything once and really appreciated the freshness of these shots. Meli is known for its fresh juice and smoothie menu and they have a variety of different and delicious combinations available. I'm a big fan of their Orange, Carrot, & Honey juice blend.

I love brunch dates with Alex because we naturally order opposite items from the menu: sweet for him and savory for me. So I always get a little taste of each!

Alex loves the crepes at Meli Cafe and they have several different varieties available. His go to is usually their Nutella crepes, but on this day they had an amazing special available: Chocolate Peanut Butter Crepes. Thin crepes were filling with a creamy peanut butter filling and drizzled with rich chocolate sauce. They were topped off with sliced bananas, powdered sugar, whipped cream, and a little bit of peanut brittle for some extra crunch. These crepes were so decadent and tasted like a plate full of dessert. Excellent choice, hubby!

Since I love a more savory brunch, I went right to Meli's Benedict menu. Meli Cafe has a ton of great egg dishes on their brunch menu from omelets to scrambles to breakfast sandwiches, but I love a  hearty Eggs Benedict. Meli's menu features a few different twists on a classic Benedict, but I opted for the vegetarian Farmer's Benedict. There was no meat in this Benedict, but instead it was piled high with fresh veggies including thick sliced zucchini and tomatoes, sauteed spinach, and a sweet caramelized onions. Instead of a heavy hollandaise sauce, this dish was served with a fresh and mild roasted tomato salsa. I loved this flavor combination and that I could enjoy a filling Benedict without feeling like I needed a nap afterward. I'm also a huge fan of poached eggs, but also very picky about how they are cooked. I hate a runny white. These eggs were perfect-- the whites soft and completely cooked and the yolks warm and runny.

I also have to acknowledge those breakfast potatoes... because I love them. Baby red potatoes are cooked until perfectly crispy with a delicious Mediterranean herb blend. The flavor and texture are exactly what home fries should be and they are served with Meli's tangy housemade ketchup on the side.

So, the next time you're looking for a Chicago brunch recommendation, be sure to take my advice and head to your nearest Meli Cafe. You will not be disappointed!
Meli Cafe on Urbanspoon

Editor's Note: While our meal was complimentary, all of opinions expressed in this post are my own.



  1. mmmm brunch is the best! xo jillian

  2. Hi Anne! I love Meli Cafe, I got to the one on Halsted and love their Cafe Benedict with pork belly! Such a delight! I would have to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Crepes next time the dish looks amazing! Anyhow, glad to meet another WCBC blogger and hope to meet you in person soon at future events in Chicago! xo~ Lena


    1. Hey Lena! That's the only location I have never visited, but trust that the food is just as awesome there too. :) Definitely look forward to meeting you too!


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