Sky Full of Bacon

#17: Tiztal Cafe, or: How do you say “What’ll it be, hon?” in Spanish?

I’m surprised to find that Tiztal Cafe hasn’t registered on LTHForum yet, even if the board is kind of in revisiting-greatest-hits mode these days, few new discoveries being talked up unless they’re hamburger franchises from out of town. But it’s cute-little-cafe-Mexican in Uptown just shy of Andersonville, so you’d think somebody would have stumbled on it; this is one case where the press has been decidedly ahead of LTHForumites.

Tiztal is a breakfast joint with a twist: it’s open 24 hours on weekends, serving that crucial Lakeview demographic of people who don’t get up till 2 pm, or need a lot of carbs at 2 am. There may not seem like there’s going to be much call for waffles at 8 at night from people over 10 and under 90, but things tend toward the spicy and savory, so it makes a reasonable comfort food dinner. If you’re hammered.

Me, I went there with the family at 9 am on Sunday, and the place didn’t look any the worse for having been open 36 hours straight by that point. The menu is short, some omelettes, waffles, a couple of savory crepes and yesterday, at least, chilaquiles were on special. I ordered them, stupidly since I’ve been battling a stomach bug, which took the opportunity to remind me that I wasn’t over it yet, so I lived on crackers and Jell-O the rest of the day. I’m not going to say they were worth that; I’m not going to say anything would be, not even if Grant Achatz had deconstructed them by making a puffy chip and squirting salsa and cream into its middle personally. But they were quite good, and better yet were the potatoes which were roasted (and actually cooked all the way through, which is a surprise at breakfast places) with garlic and parmesan, and eminently scarfable. (They come with nearly everything, which is very smart from a marketing standpoint.) Youngest son had a waffle with strawberries, bananas, and a strawberry crema, which is a nice novelty change from syrup alone (I tasted it, a little too Nestle Quik-ish for me, but he liked it which is all that matters).

Better than anything we had, though, the thing that really makes me want to give them some love and send you there next weekend, was the hospitality. It’s run by a woman who used to be at Zephyr Cafe for a million years, and assuming she’s the one who came by first thing to check on us, she’s got that kindly, welcoming earth-mama thing down pat. I had just been reading Yelp reviews of a couple of obscurish Sunday brunch places where people complained in both about indifferent bordering on hostile service, and this could not have been further from that; the warmth of her welcome trumped the food, entirely enjoyable as it was. To think that she was able to muster that after her place has been open serving drunks for the previous 36 hours is pretty remarkable. And the staff generally exhibited the same level of warmth and helpfulness, on top of things throughout (mind you, they weren’t slammed like most breakfast places on Sunday at 9, so that undoubtedly helped).

So, Tiztal, come for the gentle easing into your Sunday morning, stay for the pretty darn good food.

Tiztal Cafe
4631 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 271-4631

To see more in this series, click Restaurant Reviews at right and look for the numbered reviews.

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