Does your breakfast bite? Here’s what to do about it.

The Lady Marmalade

The Lady Marmalade.

Trust your friends.

Especially those who love brunch and ethnic food. I was a little nervous about passing up neighborhood favorites Beans & Bagels (1812 W Montrose) and Glenn’s Diner (1820 W Montrose) for a nondescript spot up the street, but decided to embrace a spirit of adventure and see what had her so excited about Marmalade (1969 W Montrose).

Fast service. Fresh ingredients. Scrumptious fusion of diner classics and Latin flair. Marmalade is a triple threat. My friend was particularly excited that menu items are noted as gluten free, vegetarian or vegan, so there’s no mystery about how to stick with a diet plan. I, on the other hand, was delighted with the near-instantaneous appearance of coffee. Delicious, OMG coffee.

Efrain's Diablo Omeletta

Efrain’s Diablo Omeletta is a signature savory breakfast item.

Embrace the specialties.

The chef’s signature dishes are noted on the menu, and each is worth a trip. The Lady Marmalade is great if you like sweet dishes for breakfast. Brioche French toast is topped with three different sauces, a homemade apricot marmalade, maple, and strawberry blackberry puree along with fresh berries and whipped cream. Yes, it’s over the top. Yes, it’s worth it.

If you prefer the savory side, try Efrain’s Diablo Omeletta. Spicy jerk shrimp and folded into a fluffy omelet flavored with onions, cilantro, cream cheese and fresh avocado. The mango chutney on top adds a sweet contrast. There’s enough kick to the omelet to satisfy, but not enough to set your mouth on fire. I also loved the sweet chili-coated breakfast potatoes and spiced pineapple marmalade served with toast that came with the dish.

Marmalade baked goods

Baked goods tempt from across the dining room.

Take it to go.

The portions here are ginormous, so if you eat-in you may very well have enough for breakfast the next day. But if you don’t have time to eat-in, browse their selection of scones, muffins and cookies. Flavors rotate, but given how well fruit is represented at Marmalade I’d say the safe bet is a fist-sized blueberry muffin.

If you really love their marmalade du jour, ask your waitress for a pint to go. This off-the-menu item runs $7 a pint. I find that a spoonful is an excellent “dessert” all by itself, but it’s also great ladled on ice cream or adding a little something-something to morning toast. It’s also great for “blogging” inspiration — clearly marmalade is necessary for all manner of things.

The constant flow of locals bodes well for their longevity in the neighborhood, but it could just as easily turn into a victim of its own success. I selfishly hope I’ll be able to pop in when I want for a great breakfast/brunch for the foreseeable future. Or until the next “discovery” by a friend.

1969 W Montrose St
Chicago, IL 60625
Open 7:30 am – 2:30 pm every day except Tuesday.