Waffles Cafe makes me think of Saturday mornings, but not in the obvious breakfasty way. I’m thinking childhood: waking up early to watch cartoons and zany toy commercials; the bright colors of crunchy, sugary cereal; a general fantasy-playground vibe soundtracked with circus music. If you let 5-year-old me open a restaurant, it’d be Waffles Cafe.
This place has been around for a couple of years in the southwest suburbs, and now there’s another one in the northwest. The sparkling clean North Durango location is brightly colored with pink accents (see? Trix are for kids) and empty in the way only a brand-new restaurant can be. But the playful décor isn’t the primary source of whimsy—it’s the menu. It’s waffles and nothing but waffles, topped with everything from ice cream to apple-pie filling to (yikes) tuna fish. I’m very sure 5-year-old me imagined a pizza fashioned from a crisp Eggo, and the fine folks at Waffles Cafe follow suit. You can get a waffle pizza with all kinds of standard toppings, but the best bet is probably the matching flavors of a Hawaiian-style.
- Waffles Cafe
- 5165 S. Fort Apache Road, 597-9775; 6446 N. Durango Drive, 727-3267.
- Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Suggested dishes: pumpkin waffle, $4.25; Jeff’s Favorite, $6.75; ham & bacon sandwich, $5.99.
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The weirdness continues. A breakfast sandwich of cheese, egg and ham or bacon in a folded-over waffle makes some sense, but then lunchtime rolls around. Tuna or barbecue brisket doesn’t match up. A waffle-wich of ham, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and avocado is almost manageable, as the smooth, buttery texture of avocado creates an odd treat.
The waffles themselves are very good. Carefully crafted by hand from fresh-daily batter, they come right off the iron, perfectly round, delicately crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. A plain waffle comes with whipped cream, powdered sugar and maple syrup, and a single-sized waffle that way is just $3.75 ($6.25 for double-size). Other flavors are oat, organic flax, chocolate and pumpkin, and the richly flavored pumpkin is the undisputed champion. Jeff’s Favorite is a pumpkin waffle with apple-pie filling, vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, and Jeff knows what he’s doing. Yooni’s Favorite is a plain waffle with strawberries and bananas, ice cream and chocolate sauce. Sweet stuff like walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, M&Ms, Nutella and marshmallows are 50 cents each; fruit toppings. including kiwi, mango and blueberry, cost 75 cents apiece. The possibilities are endless. Smoothies, boba tea drinks and milkshakes round it out.
Waffles Cafe is strange in many ways, but if you treat it like a treat store (pretend it’s a Cold Stone, for example), then it’s awesome. Stop by any night and get a banana-split waffle. As a restaurant ... well, it really isn’t one. What restaurant is willing to sprinkle Reese’s chips on your food? But that’s not the problem. If you’re going to serve one thing, that waffle better be the best. It’s not quite that. And if you’re going to put some creative twists on a familiar food, you better be more innovative than 5-year-old me.