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Catfish Breakfast from CJ’s Eatery

Item Purchased: Catfish Breakfast
Location Purchased: CJ’s Eatery / 3839 W Grand Ave. / Chicago
Price: $10.95 + tax
Purchased on: 03/21/09

Review: Chicagoans like to say that their city is a city of neighborhoods. We like to scoff at the tourists who come to town only to take the rocket lift to the top of the Sears () Tower and shop at Navy Pier. We like to pretend that each and every one of us is in the know, no matter how long we’ve lived here. We pretend to know the best place to get a hot dog or slice of deep dish and it always happens to be a place that sits on a long forgotten side street or somewhere that no tourist will ever find without our proud hand holding theirs.

The problem with a lot of us is that as much as we talk up these hidden gem eateries, rarely do we frequent them when there isn’t someone to brag to about it. Case in point: CJ’s Eatery.

Opened in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood as a comfort food eatery for the neighborhood, CJ’s had everything that any hot spot might need or want. High ceilings, great natural light, comfortable and spacious seating and genuinely friendly service. Oh yeah, and a killer menu full of soul and comfort food favorites, prepared and priced to make even the most strict point-counter tear up their Weight Watchers card and ask for seconds. The one thing it doesn’t have? Customers from the neighborhood. CJ’s seems to rely on internet foodies like the ones over at LTH Forum and others who are motivated enough to follow a published restaurant review’s road to its delicious end (admittedly, how my girlfriend and I found CJ’s). Couple this situation with the recent economic downturn and you have an idea as to why CJ’s is now only open on the weekends for brunch and an affordable Soul Food Supper on Sunday evenings.

My early brunch was a tough decision. Chicken and Waffles? Shrimp and Grits? Catfish? … Yes… Catfish!

It was only a matter of minutes after the waitress took my order that I was presented with a plate loaded with two large eggs, a side of cheddar cheese grits, a small slice of cantaloupe, two biscuits and a rather large fillet of catfish. The fillet of catfish was embraced with a crisp and spicy breading that had a bit to it. The biscuits were the perfect consistency of dense and crumbly while the egg yolks oozed under my fork to complete them. The highlight of this all-star breakfast, however, had to be the grits. I am not a southerner, so I’m not going to give a My Cousin Vinny speech, but I do want it to be known that I would lick the ramekin they come served in without the slightest hint of shame.

By the time I left CJ’s, I was pleasantly satisfied and appropriately full. You can bet I’ll be coming back and bringing my friends. It’s nice that CJ’s can be known as a great neighborhood spot. I just hope the neighborhood catches on! For their own good and for CJ’s.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

One Response to “Catfish Breakfast from CJ’s Eatery”

  1. Chris Hajer Says:

    Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a 4.75, hasn’t it? So many places like this in Chicago: so little time. Thank god for LTH Forum.

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