I have been patronizing Meli Cafe since it first opened its Greektown location in 2006. From the fresh squeezed juices to the delectable omelets and pancakes, Meli, which is Greek for honey, is always a brunchtime favorite of mine. Since 2006, Meli has expanded from its Greektown location to having a storefront in River North and the South Loop, as well. And, unlike the Greektown and River North locations, the South Loop restaurant, located within the Hotel Blake, is open for dinner, too. Hello breakfast for dinner cravings!
I recently visited that South Loop location and had a wonderful meal. The decor there is a bit fancier than at the other two locations; in part thanks to its predecessor, Custom House Tavern, which closed back in 2012. The tables and booths are spread out, spacious, and comfortable, and the decor is more upscale with modern light fixtures and stone walls.
One of the highlights of Meli’s menu are the fresh squeezed and pressed juices. Our server recommended that we start with a shot of wheatgrass juice, which contains high amounts of chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Wheatgrass is believed to provide supplemental nutrition, so I was on board in trying it. While it definitely had a grassy taste, it really was not all that bad, and the citrus from the slice of orange chaser eliminated any after taste. I felt healthier already.
I then ordered the Skin Hydrator juice, made from kale, pineapple, lemon, and cucumber, while my husband ordered the Fat Burner, made with grapefruit, lemon, honey, and ginger. While mine was good, the Fat Burner was great, thanks to the addition of the ginger which gave it some zing.
Since we started the meal off on a healthy note, I continued that trend and ordered the Black Bean Omelet, made with egg whites only, and served with black beans, avocado, jalapeño, tomato, and onions, and topped with salsa. This omelet is typically served with jack cheese, as well, but I ordered my omelet sans cheese. The omelet was fantastic. I loved the combination of flavors, and the homemade salsa on top really put it over the top. The eggs were cooked perfectly, as were the ingredients inside. I am definitely ordering this omelet again.
I could not resist ordering a side of fluffy buttermilk pancakes, and I am so glad that I did. In speaking with Chef Frank after our meal, I learned that he went through hundreds of iterations of pancake recipes before he found the perfect one, and it certainly shows. The pancakes had perfect consistency, were incredibly fluffy, and the flavors were fantastic. The addition of the fresh berries on top eliminated the need for any maple syrup. I typically do not order pancakes for breakfast or brunch, but Chef Frank has made me a believer.
My husband, being from Texas, loves anything that comes in taco or burrito form, so when he spotted the Breakfast Tacos on the specials menu, his order was decided. Rather than traditional scrambled eggs, these eggs were prepared more omelet style with chorizo and cheese and topped with a fresh pico de gallo. The eggs were then served in corn tortillas, alongside a generous serving of perfectly seasoned and cooked potatoes. My husband championed hard to get these onto the permanent menu. Right now, they appear every other week.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed everything about our experience at Meli, from the service, to the juices, to the ambiance. I appreciate that Meli uses pure ingredients, organic eggs, fresh squeezed juices, and house made marmalades and ketchup. This attention to quality ingredients definitely shines through in the taste and quality of the food. Chef Frank’s passion for cooking only helps.
Meli Cafe is perfect for anyone wishing to enjoy a fresh and flavorful breakfast or brunch, from families, to groups of friends. Lunch is also served at all locations, and dinner is served at the South Loop location on Dearborn. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are all available. Reservations are not accepted.
500 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60605
301 South Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60661
540 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654
While our meal was complimentary, all thoughts expressed herein are my own.