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Tempo Café

6 East Chestnut St., Chicago, IL - (312) 943-4373
Posted By Michael Stern on 9/11/2008 11:47:00 PM
On an unlikely corner of Chicago’s Gold Coast, just blocks from the swankiest shops and hotels in town, Tempo Café is a 24/7/365 coffee shop that serves working class food at affordable prices. Cops especially seem to make camp in the capacious booths, to which waitresses relentlessly bring coffee refills for bottomless cups.

Tempo is best known for its way with eggs. Omelets are huge and beautiful, served in silver skillets on wooden trivets. Special fillings include the Michigan, which is cheddar cheese and diced delicious apples; the State St. (broccoli, ham, mushrooms, tomato), Jamaican (banana, walnut, honey), and the truly wonderful Greek (feta, tomato, onion). The eggs and their filling are the top stratum in the skillet; below them is a thick layer of crunchy, crusty potato disks worthy of a good steak house. On the side comes a plate of Greek toast, which is thick and spangled with sesame seeds; and to dress the toast you get a globe of sweet butter and a ramekin of house-made, fine-cut marmalade. Before breakfast is served, everybody gets a single pitted prune and a wedge of orange. Nice rituals!

Breakfast is served round the clock, but if you come to Tempo for another kind of meal, there is a full menu of sandwiches, hot dinners and stir fries. In addition to good coffee, the beverage list includes latte, cappuccino and vegetable juices.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
skillet omelets
Ham & Eggs
Jelly
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Breakfast at Tempo Cafe begins with a little dish that holds a single pitted prune and a wedge of orange.
"Breakfast at Tempo Cafe begins with a little dish that holds a single pitted prune and a wedge of orange."
Michael Stern





There's something especially appealing about receiving one's whole meal (other than toast) in a single hot skillet. You can't see all the potatoes down below, but once I started forking into the eggs, the yolks seeped into the spuds and made some grand forkfuls. It wasn't a pretty picture, but it sure did taste fine.
"There's something especially appealing about receiving one's whole meal (other than toast) in a single hot skillet. You can't see all the potatoes down below, but once I started forking into the eggs, the yolks seeped into the spuds and made some grand forkfuls. It wasn't a pretty picture, but it sure did taste fine."
Michael Stern


The perfect way to start your breakfast at Tempo Cafe is with a Casablanca, a delicious combination of cantaloupe, strawberry, and orange juice.
"The perfect way to start your breakfast at Tempo Cafe is with a Casablanca, a delicious combination of cantaloupe, strawberry, and orange juice."
Cliff Strutz


My personal favorite of Tempo Cafe's long list of available skillet omelets is the Florentine, with spinach, ham, and Swiss cheese.  Along with a hefty portion of home fries, this meal will fuel you for the whole day.
"My personal favorite of Tempo Cafe's long list of available skillet omelets is the Florentine, with spinach, ham, and Swiss cheese. Along with a hefty portion of home fries, this meal will fuel you for the whole day."
Cliff Strutz


The Michigan omelet: diced apples and cheddar cheese, served in a skillet atop a thick layer of crusty fried potatoes.
"The Michigan omelet: diced apples and cheddar cheese, served in a skillet atop a thick layer of crusty fried potatoes."
Michael Stern


With every breakfast you get a globe of butter and a dish of fine-cut marmalade.
"With every breakfast you get a globe of butter and a dish of fine-cut marmalade."
Michael Stern


Because it's open twenty-four hours a day, Tempo Cafe is a favorite place for cops to gather for early morning breakfast or end-of-shift coffee.
"Because it's open twenty-four hours a day, Tempo Cafe is a favorite place for cops to gather for early morning breakfast or end-of-shift coffee."
Michael Stern


Tempo Cafe's patio gives you a good view of the comings and goings on Chestnut Street. This picture was taken just at dawn. By later in the breakfast hour, you'll wait for a table.
"Tempo Cafe's patio gives you a good view of the comings and goings on Chestnut Street. This picture was taken just at dawn. By later in the breakfast hour, you'll wait for a table."
Michael Stern


A short walk from the high-tone hotels and shopping emporia of Michigan Avenue, Tempo Cafe is a low-cost, high-quality urban eatery.
"A short walk from the high-tone hotels and shopping emporia of Michigan Avenue, Tempo Cafe is a low-cost, high-quality urban eatery."
Michael Stern



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