Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meli Cafe

Location: 301 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60661
Meli Cafe on UrbanspoonMeli Cafe and Juice Bar on Foodio54
A Quick Word:
For brunch, a main staple for many UIC students has been Meli Cafe in nearby Greektown.  Whenever I come out here, there is usually a wait of 30 minute or more, especially on the weekends.  But after the wait in the extremely small corridor area, you are seated in a very cramped dining room but happy to be looking at an extremely diverse menu.  There does seem to be a trend of offering various greek-influenced dishes that include feta, but they still offer the typical breakfast foods.  From crepes to skillets, everyone always gets a huge plate of food that screams left overs.  They also offer a variety of freshly squeezed fruit juices, smoothies made-to-order, and incredible homemade jams.  Unfortunately, the crowded atmosphere is met by a staff that tries to get their customers in & out in an uncomfortable and short amount of time.  They not only take orders immediately after sitting, but they also bring the check without asking.  The overall price is very high for brunch food. Overall, I can look past the cost because I love their food, but I still hate the overall experience enough to knock down the rating to just better than average.  Anyway, give it a try and let me know what you think about their food and service.

What We Ate:

Homemade Preserves and Honey Butter w/ Multigrain Toast

The toast and their homemade preserves is a MUST HAVE when dining at Meli's.  The flavors change depending on what is in season and what the chef decides to make.  This time, we were lucky enough to have apricot preserves and an orange marmalade.  The orange marmalade was my favorite with fresh orange zest mixed right in.  The apricot was interesting, but I think apricots in general have a stranger flavor that I am not as fond of.  And of course, they serve a honey butter which actually has the sweetness that I was looking for.  Order bread... LOTS of bread!

Emerald Isle Skillet

Today I decided to stray away from my usual eggs, toast, and potatoes and chose the Emerald Isle skillet.  This skillet starts with a base of their house baby red potatoes topped with corned beef hash, baby swiss cheese, and two eggs over easy.  You can choose a different style of eggs, but I highly suggest the runny yolk of the over easy preparation.  The red potatoes are once again amazing, but I would prefer them separate with a huge pile of ketchup and tabasco.  The corned beef hash wasn't like the cheaper version at some diners, but instead had some texture and a great salty flavor.  They do add a lot of cheese which could be cut back on.  I suggest popping the yolk, adding a little bit of ketchup, and make sure to get a little of everything in each bite.  It does come with your choice of toast (see above description).

Smoked Salmon Crepes

My mom chose one of their savory crepe options... the smoked salmon ones.  It came with two massive crepes that were stuffed with a mixture of scrambled eggs, honey smoked salmon, capers, onions, and tomatoes.  Everything was drizzled with a hollandaise sauce.  These were great.  The crepe was a nice thickness that allowed it to roll into enchilada-like vessels.  The mixture inside was simply a smoked salmon omelet but the ingredient choices were on point!  The capers and onions gave the nice acidity and contrasting flavor that cut some of the richness from the eggs, crepe, and hollandaise sauce.  I will probably get these or one of the other savory crepes next time.

Jicama Scramble (today's special)

After debating between two dishes, my dad ending ordering the Jicama scramble.  This plate included two eggs scrambled and mixed with chicken, jicama, grilled corn, chopped jalapeño, and cheese.  It was served with toast or an english muffin which is great for the jams.  My dad's dish had the best texture with the corn and jicama breaking up the mushiness from the eggs and cheese.  And surprisingly, the grilled corn actually provided a charred flavor that I enjoyed.  It was a little spicier than expected and also had somewhat of a chorizo flavor without having chorizo.  Anyway, I thought it was a smaller portion and was pricier than some of the others... but I guess it was the day's special.

(two eggs scrambled and mixed in with chicken, jicama, grilled corn, chopped jalapeño, cheese)

Pear Juice

For about $3.00, you get a small glass of pear juice.  It is hard to describe because it is 100% pear which makes it not only fresh, but just PEAR.  Definitely order some juices, but be careful with the price.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- Be prepared for a wait... they do estimate a little on the higher side, but still I tend to wait nearly 30 minutes every time I eat here.
- MUST ORDERS:  toast, baby red potatoes.  If you don't, you will be missing out and will be disappointed.
- The fruit juices are expensive, but I always think it is worth it.  No additives, just fruit.

- If you are looking to spend a little extra time with the family or friends and just want to talk, DON'T come here.  They rush all tables and seem to dislike letting people lounge around.

How far would I walk for this food?

(I highly dislike their service.)


  1. So it's not a good value for money huh? But you said it's delicious enough to look past that, sounds pretty intriguing to me. I'm into ham and bacon omelet, do they serve one?

    -Lawrence Banks

  2. Coffee is somewhat like a social lubricant. It keeps some heads together discussing over something. shishareview.org Peace cafe is another one where you can spend some real good time.