The White Palace Grill is one of the most famous diners in the city, if not the most famous.
It was featured in an episode of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drives, and Dines.” “There’s nothing better than a big plate of down home, scratch-made food in the middle of the night,” boasted host Guy Fieri.
For as long as I could remember, I have heard about the diner. I would often see its neon lights whenever I was traveling on Roosevelt to downtown or the lakefront. When the Maxwell Street Market was on Canal Street, White Palace Grill was a marker for my family. We would always meet up there in the event we separated during our trek to get plants, fireworks, used books, or whatever items were up for grabs that Sunday.
Longevity is partially why the Grill has been around. Open since 1939, few places in the area (or the city) have been in business for such a long time and still be successful.
White Palace Grill is open 24 hours a day, which is a godsend to weary drivers who are traveling long distances, party goers looking to fill their stomachs, and anyone who has a carving for sunny-side up eggs and orange juice at 2:30am. Homemade food at 2:30am – or 2:30pm – at a decent price is very hard to find in the South Loop. (Or anywhere near the Loop).
Breakfast is the highlight on the menu. While many places offer breakfast around-the-clock, the selections are limited. The breakfast menu at White Palace Grill has over 50 plates and sides for breakfast, from mouth-watering and belly-filling pancakes (order a short or tall stack or get them along with your eggs, waffles, French toast, oatmeal, skillets, to egg sandwiches, Tex-Mex, and biscuits and gravy. Best plates: the 2x2x2x2 breakfast plate (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 pieces of bacon, and 2 pieces of sausage link) for $6.49, chocolate chip pancakes ($6.99 for 5 of them, and they don’t skimp on the chocolate chips), and the meat lover’s breakfast skillet ($7.99, and it includes ham, bacon, sausage, and green peppers on a large skillet that will take two people to eat).
Dinner and lunch entrees are readily available 24/7. The best thing I can recommend if you’re looking for something quick and easy are the burgers. The best burger is the Chicago Burger, which has bacon and cheese, and is $5.99. For a dollar more, get the deluxe, which includes soup or salad and fries.
The last time I went for dinner, my sister tried their fried chicken. It is made fresh (like everything else on the menu) though it does take around 10 minutes to prep and fry the chicken. The surface was crunchy and the breast was tender and juicy. For $8.99, you also get soup, salad or potato (either fries, mashed, or a baked potato) and bread rolls.
Oh the bread basket. I love it when diners bring out the big ol’ bread basket with various rolls and those random packets of crackers.
Can’t decide on what to eat or wanna try something new? Get the Blue Plate Special. Every day there are at least two plates that are freshly prepared for your eating pleasure. There is the BBQ Chicken (Tuesdays) and the Short-Rib (Wednesdays and Saturdays) that are prepared and cooked in-house. On Fridays, there are four plates available, including the delicious Mac ‘n’ Cheese.
Everything on the menu is reasonably priced, even a bargain compared to most places in the area (or in the city). You can have a filling meal for under ten bucks. And the waitresses are pretty cool, down-to-earth. They always bring you another cup of coffee or soda pop or fill up the water glass before you get a chance to clear your throat from the fried chicken or the pancakes. Make sure you tip well.
While some people order for pickup or to go, this is a diner that you gotta sit in and dine there. You have everyone from all parts of the city (as well as visitors..err tourists) walking in, chit-chatting with the waitresses or the owner or whoever is behind the cashier, eating at the counter, etc. This is an excellent place to people-watch while you are enjoying your meal. And since it’s open 24 hours, anytime is a great time to walk in, grab some grub, sit down, and relax for a little while.