A leisurely walk in any Chicago community can yield great rewards.
On Sunday, my husband and I were in Albany Park when we stumbled on the Harding Café, a small, family-owned spot serving up spectacular breakfasts and lunches seven days a week.
Opened just 11 months ago, the Harding Café has already made a big impact on those who have graced this cozy, pleasant spot, where conversations with the owners are not uncommon, and delicious breakfast and lunch specialties have earned a perfect 5.0 rating on Google.
We arrive just over an hour before closing, yet we’re urged to take our time ordering. The coffee comes out immediately. I like mine strong and black, and the 100% Columbian blend they serve is both. Refills are free. Our water glasses are filled with ice and served with a lemon slice, so refreshing on a humid day!
I have their special Vanilla Peach Pancakes, with fresh peaches, peach jarabe (syrup in Spanish), and a vanilla-infused mix. They come out picture-perfect, swirled with fresh peach slices and served with whipped cream and powdered sugar, decorated with a fresh sprig of mint (a nice touch). The sweet vanilla sauce and peach jarabe combined with the peach-infused cakes for a delicate, fluffy, not-too-sweet bite of heaven. After my last experience with a commercial chain pancake, this is redemption!
My husband opted for the Buttermilk Pancakes festooned with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar. Similarly, they are light and fluffy, and for both of us, there isn’t anything on our plates when we’re done. We brought home their Two Eggs Kid’s Meal, with silver dollar pancakes, choice of eggs, and sausage or bacon to our picky 17-year old, who gave the meal a big thumbs-up!
We vow to come back for some of their other breakfast and lunch specialties, which includes the Avocado Clucker Sandwiche-a fried chicken breast, avocado, bacon, arugula, and tomatoes, served on a spinach brioche bun, and The Ruiz Burger, a1/2 lb beef patty, with arugula, tomatoes, chipotle aioli, red onions, fried jalapeños, and pepper-jack cheese.
Salads sound good, too—their House Salad has a green mix, combined with red onions, cucumbers, dehydrated cherries, and lemon vinaigrette dressing, while the Mixed Green Salad has strawberries, caramelized walnuts, dehydrated cherries, avocado, goat cheese, and orange vinaigrette dressing.
We are far from the only ones surprised by this small gem. One Google reviewer wrote “The food at this family owned restaurant is delicious!! We had the oatmeal banana pancakes, they were moist and had a great and natural flavor. We also had the Denver omelette with wheat toast and potatoes. Food was freshly made and right size portions. We were recommended by a neighbor and plan to frequently patron this place going forth.”
Another wrote “Food is all homemade … chilliques are so good with red sauce To die for… The burgers are HUGe…. so delicious…. the fries are like no others and I personally never order fries. So they have to be good…. I did substitute the salad for the fries and was blown away how tasty it was… I mean I’m talking salad right!! Please come visit this beautiful restaurant and taste the real homemade goodness.”
The Harding Café is located at 4347 N. Harding Avenue. They are open Monday-Friday from 7am–3pm, and Saturday-Sunday 7am–4pm. For more information, click here.
Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago