It’s just past 8 am on a warm sunny Saturday. At the footsteps of One Prudential Plaza, minutes from the Randolph/Wabash Red Line stop and just across the street from Millennium Park, a crowd waits outside one of the building’s revolving doors. They’re not here for a park tour or a tour of the building; they’re here for breakfast.
From the bustling Wildberry kitchen, co-owner and manager Peter Bovis gazes into Wildberry’s packed dining room and calmly remarks, “It’s the calm right now. The calm before the storm.”
Business at Wildberry is booming for good reason. The Chicago location has only been open for two years and has already caught the city’s attention, earning numerous awards from bloggers and TV news stations as well as Chicago magazine.
Chances are, when you visit Wildberry, you’ll have to take a buzzer and wait for a table. It may be tempting to skedaddle around the corner to Starbucks instead, but the 15 to 30 minute wait is well worth your time.
Once you’re inside, you’re swiftly seated in one of the cushioned booths or at one of the many natural wood tables. The interior is warm, bright and homey with wood panel walls and ceiling pieces as well as wooden furniture. Fresh sunlight radiates into the dining area from an array of large windows, helping you perk up for breakfast.
I start off my meal with some fresh squeezed orange juice. Wildberry juices 10 to 12 cases of oranges every day, serving it alone or in a fresh squeezed berry juice blend. The juice is refreshingly crisp and tart. It’s a far cry from the Tropicana sitting in your fridge. If OJ isn’t really your thing, something else on the drink menu is sure to catch your eye. Everything from coffee to smoothies is available.
With a delicious drink in hand, the serious business of deciding what to eat for breakfast begins. I opt for my favorites: the Mexicana skillet topped with sunny-side up eggs with a side of Wildberry’s signature berry bliss pancakes and an additional side of multi-grain fig and walnut pancakes for the road. The service is speedy and always friendly. Even with a full house, you won’t have to wait long after being seated for food. Within 15 minutes, I am staring down my breakfast smorgasbord.
I dive into the Mexicana first, digging to the bottom of the pan to get a bite of everything in between. All skillets are built on a warm hash brown base and topped with a melted gooey mix of Monterey Jack and cheddar. The Mexicana packs chunky and savory chorizo sausage, creamy avocado, spicy jalapeños, onions and cilantro between these two layers. The masterpiece is finished off by the two perfectly cooked sunny-side up eggs resting on top.
Next, I try some of the berry bliss pancakes with a handful of fresh berries on the side and topped with drizzles of vanilla creme Anglaise and blackberry coulis on top as well as berry mascarpone between each layer. The first bite is astonishing. The sauces all come through in an explosion of berry goodness that is simultaneously sweet, creamy and tangy. The pancakes themselves are delightfully fluffy and moist with a soft, velvety texture. They are hands down the best-executed pancakes I have ever eaten.
Almost comatose after finishing my skillet and half of my berry bliss pancakes, I decide that I must try some of the fig and walnut pancakes before I roll over and fall asleep. Instead of having sauce between the pancakes, these have sun dried fig hidden within the pancakes themselves and are topped with toasted walnuts, more figs and a drizzle of honey. These multi-grain pancakes are just as fluffy and soft as the berry bliss pancakes. The walnuts and dried fig combine to form a deep and complex flavor that is less sweet than berry bliss, but nuanced and well balanced. Cue massive food coma.
If you’re planning on going downtown on a weekend, Wildberry is your go to breakfast destination. It’s so good, you’ll be making excuses to roll down to Millenium Park for another bite.
Address: 130 E. Randolph St. Chicago, IL
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 6:30 am – 2:30 pm
Other info: Reservations only available Mon-Fri for 6 or more