Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (at some locations)
Neighborhood: River North, West Loop, The Loop
Address: 540 N Wells, Chicago, Illinois 60654
Phone Number: (312) 517-1850
Price Range: $8-17
Our Rating: 3 out of 5
What We Tried: Vegetable Omelet, Vegan Salsa Stacker
Our Take: The best way that I can describe the vibe at Meli Cafe is that it is like a Coney Island restaurant, which is unfortunate, because if you aren’t from Michigan, you probably have no clue what a Coney Island restaurant is. Well anyway, similarly to Coney Islands, Meli Cafe is a Greek restaurant. Also similarly to Coney Islands, Meli Cafe isn’t really sure what it wants to be (Coneys are known for Greek food, breakfast food, and chili dogs. Just sayin.). Coney somehow nails the whole seemingly random collection. Meli, on the other hand, could use some direction. Trying to make crazy outlandish dessert-like pancakes, Greek fare, tofu scramblers, Cajun food, and seafood all while using farm-fresh ingredients may have been just a little too much for their kitchen to handle.
To be fair, my choice of meal probably has something to do with my less-than-stellar impression. I thought I’d go out on a limb and order something unique as a true test of Meli Cafe’s cooking chops, so I asked for the Vegan Salsa Stacker. Unfortunately, I’m an idiot and forgot that eggs aren’t vegan, so I was a little disappointed when they weren’t included in my stack. The salsa verde was incredibly fresh (and spicy – be warned!), but the rest of the dish was kind of… meh. The tofu could’ve used a little TLC (because let’s be real, tofu always needs TLC), and given the watery nature of the ingredients, the english muffin got pretty soggy.
My mom’s Vegetable Omelet, however, was spectacular. While many veggie omelets end up a watery mess, this one was perfectly fluffy and chock full of vegetables. The mozz added a surprisingly delicious twist – I really didn’t think I wanted it there until I tried it.
My mom also said that her coffee was out-of-this-world and worth a trip alone, so she was evidently making all of the right choices at this spot.
I have to say, if I stumbled upon this place in my small hometown in Southeast Michigan, I would most probably make a return visit, but given the wealth of eclectic, inventive, and out-of-this-world brunch spots in Chicago, I probably won’t be back any time soon.