"Hit or miss" would be a charitable way of describing Hyde Park's dining options. Use this guide to make your meals more of the former.
Mellow Yellow, 1508 East 53rd Street » It may look like a sports bar, but this 53rd Street spot serves some of the best breakfast on the South Side. The crêpes and blintzes are phenomenal—and they’re served with ice cream. For those over 21, there’s a full bar serving alcoholic breakfast drinks. Coffee: Who needs it? We’ll take a wake-up cup of gin and juice. (773) 667-2000
Morry’s Deli, 5500 South Cornell Avenue » One might imagine that a delicatessen started by Suze Orman’s father would be easy on the wallet. And, boy, would you be right. It may not seem the most inviting spot, but any place you can buy lunch for under $6 (Chicago-style hot dog, french fries, and a can of soda) can’t be that curmudgeonly. North Siders make the trek for Morry’s famous triple-decker sandwiches, which will keep you fed for at least a day. (773) 363-3800
Nicky’s Chinese, 5231 South Woodlawn Ave. » Years ago, Nicky’s used to make decent pizza. Now they make barely passable Chinese food. (773) 324-5340
The Nile, 1611 East 55th Street » Prices start at $5 for this reliable Middle Eastern cuisine. You can try it on campus, since the Nile exports entrées to some U of C coffee shops. For your weekly allowance of protein, get the chicken shawarma sandwich. But first order a bowl or three of the delicious red lentil soup. (773) 324-9499
Noodles, Etc., 1333 East 57th Street » Feel like Asian cuisine, but don’t know what to get? Chinese? Japanese? Thai? Or a little of all three? A favorite of the University crowd, this restaurant serves food the ways college kids like it best—fast, big, and cheap. Service is quick and efficient, but the restaurant gets crowded quickly, especially around lunchtime. (773) 684-2801
The Original Pancake House, 1517 East Hyde Park Boulevard » As the name suggests, they serve pancakes here. If by “Original” they mean huge and tasty, then the title is right on. On weekends the wait can be long and rowdy, but it’s worth it. If you’re not in the mood for pancakes, try one of the meat-filled skillets—essentially every brunch food on one delicious plate. Plan on taking leftovers home; portions are huge. (773) 288-2322
Park 52, 5201 South Harper Court » Hyde Park’s answer to fine dining, Park 52 is one of the newest additions to the dining scene. The menu features soul food classics with a twist, like Shrimp and Grits made with truffle oil. Service can be abysmal, especially at the understaffed brunch. Cocktails at the bar are large and creative, making it a nice place to start (or end) an evening. One of the priciest restaurants within walking distance, don’t make this place a habit unless you’re a Rockefeller. (773) 241-5200