Kanela Breakfast Club – A Party for Breakfast
Chicago is known for having some of the best food in the country and some of the best restaurants in the world! There’s a little bit of something for everyone of different tastes and flavors to try. Despite what people might think, Chicago is way more than hotdogs and deep-dish. Brunch and breakfast in Chicago is one of the most underrated commodities to living in the city. With so many brunch spots available to choose from, how can you decide? Let’s start with one of my favorite spots, Kanela Breakfast Club in Wicker Park.
Kanela has multiple locations, but the one I’m reviewing here is the location on Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park. What I love about Kanela is that it has a variety of savory, sweet and unique brunch twist options that really make every visit different and enjoyable.
On a bustling Saturday afternoon the vibe from Kanela was busy, but simultaneously had a laid-back attitude about it. The servers all seemed like they lived in the Wicker Park area – young and hip, but friendly nonetheless. There was a small wait for two, which comes as no surprise being that it was 11 a.m. on a Saturday, which is prime brunch time. The weather was nice for a December day, but not nice enough for outdoor patio seating. After about a 10-minute wait we were seated near the front door. The menu at Kanela features a lot of variety and they divide it up into sections such as sweet, savory and sandwiches. Balancing your breakfast is what everyone told you to do as a kid right? So make sure to balance out your coco crunch pancakes with chilaquiles.
They have great appetizers to get your day started off on the right foot. You can’t go wrong with a kanela roll or the monkey bread. Both are sweet and tasty in their own way. The kanela roll is basically a cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting, while the monkey bread is a cinnamon bread with honey butter, caramel and walnut, making both sticky sweet delights! I usually opt to get the sweet appetizer when I choose a savory main dish. During this visit we got an order of monkey bread to share and I ordered the breakfast burrito. It was definitely the right move on my part. The monkey bread was sweet from the honey, but wasn’t overly sweet as breakfast sweets tend to be.
The breakfast burrito was all I could’ve asked for in a breakfast entrée. The house-made chorizo had a kick to eat that made the dish feel new when so many restaurants try to make a breakfast burrito and fail to execute it well. Along with the chorizo – scrambled eggs, Chihuahua cheese, avocado, cilantro and salsa verde round out the dish. I’m personally not a fan of cilantro, so I asked from mine not to include the leafy green, but maybe they thought I didn’t want any greens in my burrito because I didn’t have any avocado on mine either. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even realize it until halfway through my breakfast when it was too late at that point. I sincerely was enjoying the burrito otherwise, but once I realized the avocado was missing I knew that having that in the burrito would’ve taken off some of the heat from the spicy chorizo. Oh well! I still enjoyed my food overall, but it was a little on the greasy side and I was disappointed that the avocado was missing.
My friend ordered the fried chicken and waffles and was not disappointed. Their version of chicken and waffles features buttermilk fried chicken on a bed of fluffy waffles, with sriracha and honey sauce in lieu of traditional maple syrup. The flavor combination is an explosion in your mouth! The salty and crispy fried chicken with the soft and sweet buttery waffles features opposite ends of the flavor and texture spectrum. Add in the spicy, yet sweet sauce and you have all of the flavor palettes covered.
The only thing I’ve ever had at Kanela that I wasn’t a big fan of was their pork belly benedict, and it’s not even really fair for them to compete when the ramen restaurant Wasabi makes the best pork belly in the world. I love pork belly and Wasabi is my favorite place that makes it and uses it in their ramen dishes. When I ordered the pork belly benedict last time I was hoping for Wasabi level pork belly and was disappointed that it wasn’t as flavorful. The benedict itself was good with a poached egg, Brussels sprouts, dried cranberry, and house-made hollandaise all on an English muffin, but the pork belly itself was lacking something and that something was the seasoning and flavors Wasabi packs into their pork belly. The pork belly was just ok, but was lacking in real flavor while the Brussels sprouts and dried cranberry stole the flavor show.
Overall, Kanela is one of the best breakfast spots in the city. They have a variety of options to keep you coming back time and time again only to discover and enjoy more than you ever could have known when it comes to breakfast. There’s an overall calming atheistic about the restaurant and the patrons and servers there aid in that calming feeling. Try Kanela because it has a variety of everything you could ever want in breakfast food along with things you never would have thought of in a million years.
- Menu variety: The menu at Kanela is very large and that can be both a pro and a con. It’s a pro because it gives you a selection that other breakfast places might not offer. They don’t just specialize in one thing and that’s what makes them so good.
- Chicken and waffles: I love their chicken and waffles not just because I love that flavor combination, but because at Kanela they serve the entrée with sriracha honey sauce, which is unique and incredibly tasty.
- Drink menu: I didn’t get an adult drink this trip, just a coffee, but they have a variety of alcoholic brunch drinks. Some of the most popular include the cinnamon toast brunch featuring vodka, Kahlua, Rumchata served on the rocks and the always classic Kanela bloody Mary. The bloody Mary features vodka, Zing Ziang bloody Mary mix, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and lime juice, all garnished with olive, garlic dill pickle, celery stalk, pepper jack cheese, pepperoncini, lemon, lime, spicy green bean and a mini grilled cheese. Talk about a meal on its own! You can get this regular or spicy.
- House-made chorizo: While it may have been to blame for the grease on my breakfast burrito, the flavor and quality of the chorizo really made the meal. Spicy, but not too spicy, the breakfast burrito is definitely one of my top-menu favorites.
- Location: There are six locations where you can visit Kanela. Wicker Park, Lakeview, Old Town, Streeterville, Andersonville and Ukrainian Village. With so many locations, there’s no reason to miss out on breakfast quality!
- Pork belly: My number one grievance with Kanela is that I didn’t think the flavor of their pork belly was up to par with the flavor of Wasabi’s pork belly. It’s not necessarily their fault, but I know that there’s definitely room for improvement.
- Parking: Not sure about parking at the other locations, but the Wicker Park location can be tricky when it comes to finding a parking spot. The streets are meter parking and those fill up quickly.
- Expansive menu: Just as I said it was a pro, it can be a con in many ways. Some people prefer variety and like to have lots of options to choose from. Just the same, some people prefer to have the same things every time they dine and having too many food items to choose from may be overwhelming.
- No avocado on breakfast burrito: Just getting picky here and saying that not having the avocado on my burrito was disappointing. The chorizo had a kick to it and the avocado would have eliminated some of that spicy heat. Not a major issue, just a disappointment.
- Eggs come out separately: This trip was the second time a poached egg included with the meal came out separately. Not sure if they have just one line cook on poached egg duty, but it seems odd two visits in a row they brought an egg out after the rest of the food was ready.
Kanela Breakfast Club
1408 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, IL 60622