Homemade New Orleans style beignets are small squares of fried dough covered in powdered sugar prepared for Mardi gras

Restaurant Review: For Southern Delights in Chicago, try Junebug Café in Portage Park

Homemade New Orleans style beignets are small squares of fried dough covered in powdered sugar prepared for Mardi gras

Mardi Gras may be over for 2024, but quality Southern cuisine lives on at Junebug Café in Portage Park.

Who doesn’t love a great beignet and coffee to start the morning? Or a Hand Pie for lunch? 

This quality café is brought to Portage Park by a second generation restauranteur. As reported by Block Club Chicago, the sandwich business’ name is a small nod to Chris Murphy’s dad’s first restaurant in the suburbs, called Murphy’s off the Mall. I remember Murphy’s from my childhood. For me, Murphy’s was the place I learned to enjoy raisin bread grilled cheese sandwiches….an unusual combination at the time. I still make the combination today.

Before opening Junebug in Portage Park in 2018 (via Block Club Chicago,) Murphy was manager at Poor Phil’s Bar and Grill, also owned by his father, in Oak Park. Poor Phil’s has been a gathering place for my friends and family for several decades.

Junebug Café draws inspiration from their family’s French Creole heritage, according to their website, “as well as our beloved Grandmother’s enduring spirit. Most knew her as “Granny” and (whether you liked it or not!) she was truly everyone’s Grandma. Granny nourished us with love, laughter, and wisdom – washed down with her delicious coffees and snacks,” they say. “And we aim to share that same love and nourishment with all of our neighbors!”

So it’s with a seasoned palate and experience that Murphy and his wife Jacqueline are the owners of Junebug. Among the showstoppers here are their Fresh Beignets, fried dough sprinkled with powder sugar. Savories will enjoy their popular Meat Pie, with a flaky homemade pastry puff filled with ground pork and beef, green onion, garlic, and Junebug ‘secret spice.’ Or, their Breakfast Hand Pie, which is scrambled egg, bacon, Mamma Mae’s Cajun spice, green onion, and cheddar cheese, served with Creole Remoulade or Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Other specialties include their Debris (Brisket) Po’ Boy w/Side, which is a 10hr Slow-cooked brisket, tossed in brisket gravy, on a french roll, with Creole Remoulade, lettuce, tomato, and onion. It’s served with your choice of Cajun fries or Louisiana coleslaw. Junebug Gumbo is a New Orleans Style chicken and sausage gumbo topped with rice.

Caramel Apple Hand Pie has roasted Granny Smith apples, brown sugar, caramel, cinnamon and nutmeg, then fried and dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a house-made vanilla glaze frosting.

Google reviews were ecstatic:

“I grew up in Louisiana and absolutely love this place. I highly recommend the shrimp poboy, beignets, and meat pie. The place is small and has an intimate Louisiana vibe. Staff is super friendly.”

“Love Junebug Café!! They have delicious beignets rolls & this years King Cake was spectacular! Great service helpful friendly and I highly recommend! Their delicious sweets with sauces and all really added to our Mardi Gras menu!”

Junebug Café is located at 4042 N. Milwaukee Avenue. They are open Sunday-Thursday, 8am – 3pm, and Friday-Saturday, 8am – 6pm. For more information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago