Having lived in Lakeview for almost three decades, I’ve driven on Irving Park Road a gazillion times and passed one of this month’s restaurants every time. Corona’s Coffee Shop: That’s the old-timer. The new bakery I visited in Logan Square, Pan Artesanal, has been open for only a few months and, I’m sure, will be around for a long time. In the middle is Over Easy, a neighborhood place that has weathered the storms all independent restaurants face and is still thriving. Here’s what I found.
Pan Artesanal Bakery
The terms “fusion” and “mashup” have made their way into the culinary lexicon, and sometimes the concept works and sometimes it leaves me wondering why someone thought such disparate ingredients belonged in a single dish.
But what happens when you take the Espinoza sisters — Marisol, who went to the French Pastry School, and Lizette, who went to Robert Morris University School of Business — and let them work the magic of Mexican traditions with French techniques? You get a breakfast full of surprises and delights!
The bakery case is filled with well-crafted desserts that invite you to read every tag carefully before you make a decision. Be assured, you can’t make a mistake; they are all tempting and delicious.
The breads that perfume the air are used in the sandwiches. They just beg to go home with you too.
I went with my friend Andrew Weithe, who is now the manager of Read It & Eat culinary bookstore in Lincoln Park. He was my eating partner of choice, since he has spent so much time south of the border.
We shared the turkey pastrami-egg-and-cheese sandwich on a baguette as well as a chorizo-and-egg sandwich on a croissant. Both were tasty, and the breads superb. The baguette had just the right crust, so you could bite down easily.
A poblano-pepper-and-cheese loaf looked like a tall relative of a focaccia, but was so much lighter and tastier than the Italian version. I thought I would just take a bite and save the rest for later, but later never came. We lived in the now.
We lingered over coffee and a beautiful, flaky pear almond pastry. Several times we were asked if there was anything we needed, and they offered the kindest words: They were happy we were happy to stay.
Of note: Street parking, fast casual, catering, takeout and delivery.
Find it: 3724 W. Fullerton Ave., 312-286-5265, www.panartesanalbakery.com.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Corona’s Coffee Shop
A restaurant that has been open for many years has to be careful when it uses a tagline like: Great Coffee, Breakfast, Delicious Food and Friendly Service. While I’m not a skeptic, I am sensitive to such claims and am careful to enter without a “show me” attitude when I arrive.
I ordered the croissant sandwich with bacon, egg and cheese that came with hash browns. I’ve said this before about biscuits: If they are truly authentic, they will fall apart in a sandwich. The same goes for croissants. If they are buttery and crackly and airy, they won’t hold up. This version had the taste and aroma, but was a little sturdier to make for a perfect sandwich-holder.
I had the Delight Skillet with over-easy eggs, mushrooms, fresh spinach, tomato, onions and cheese over hash browns. These same ingredients can also be part of an omelet or a wrap.
So, let me go back to the tagline: The latte was the best one I’ve had in months; yes they serve breakfast; the food was delicious; and the service was warm and friendly. I call that truth in advertising.
Of note: Metered street parking, fast casual, takeout and delivery.
Find it: 909 W. Irving Park Road, 773-529-1886.
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Second helping: Over Easy Cafe
Since I know and understand what it takes for a restaurant to stay alive and thrive, I wanted to pay my respects to Jon Cignarale and Gwyneth Nordine in their 11th year.
Who better to join me, since the Cubs weren’t in the playoffs, than Hot Doug himself, Doug Sohn! When we look around, and we always do, we see the hard work and dedication that goes into an operation that has sustained and become part of the neighborhood.
A young man at the door welcomes patrons and, if there’s a wait, given the 36-seat dining room, offers free coffee. We were seated and greeted immediately with a smile and a warm welcome.
The menu is solid and exciting in its variety, with weekly special additions that are also posted on their website. That’s rare; many restaurants forget to post changes in hours or closed days.
I ordered the eggs scrambled with smoked, wild-caught sockeye salmon and dill havarti, served with red potato hash and toast. There is a taste memory that kicks in when you have had the same dish before, and it was — and is — exactly right on target.
Doug had the Nueva Mexicana Omelette with eggs, corn, tomatoes, red onions, cilantro and goat cheese, topped with salsa verde and sour cream and served with red potato hash and toast.
We shared a short stack of bacon pancakes and stories, since we both have lots of those.
Of note: Street parking can be challenging, full service.
Find it: 4943 N. Damen Ave., 773-506-2605, www.overeasycafechicago.com
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.