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Noon Hour Grill Great at Any Time

By John DiGilio in Food on Nov 9, 2011 7:00PM

2011_11_DiGilio_NoonHour.JPG Big things come in little packages. It's a phrase that has been used to death. But at the risk of sounding even more cliche, sometimes the shoe just really fits. Eateries do not get much smaller than Rogers Park's Noon Hour Grill. Yet for good food at great prices, this little diner can give the big guys a run for their money any day. What it lacks in size, Noon Hour Grill more than makes up for in taste and value.

When we say Noon Hour Grill is small, we mean small. Behind a tiny storefront window, a handful of tables cluster around a busy cooking area. There is but one server and she also happens to be the cook and the owner. Susie, as the locals lovingly refer to her, is a one-woman dynamo, waiting tables, cooking meals, and ringing up customers. Does this approach slow things down? You bet. Is the experience worth the wait? Absolutely! The hostess/chef/proprietress is not only friendly, she slings a mean omelet!

The menu here has to be one of the most eclectic in the city. One part American diner fare and two parts Korean fusion best sum it up. You can get scrambled eggs with bacon, for example, or a bowl of spicy bi bim bop. Or you can savor the best of both worlds with an exotically flavored omelet stuffed with cheese, tofu, green onions, and sliced ginger. (You won't find that at Denny's!) Each of the omelets is made with three eggs and most come in at under five dollars with toast and potatoes. Most of the lunch entrees will run you less than seven dollars. Of course, kim chi can be ordered with any meal, if you are so inclined. We recommend it.

Finding Noon Hour Grill is not hard. It is literally a stone's throw from the Morse Red Line station. Business was about as brisk as it could be given how small the restaurant is - every table was full. While we waited for Susie to cook up the meals for the folks who arrived before us, we were treated to some delicious, basic, diner coffee. You know, the good, solid-tasting kind you remember from the diners of your childhood. When it was our turn to order, we loaded up: pancakes, bacon, sausage, and a pair of omelets. The pancakes were wonderfully light and fluffy. They were melt-in-your-mouth good. The bacon was perfectly crisp and the sausage savory. The standout of the meal was the above-mentioned omelet with its odd, Eastern-influenced ingredients. Who knew that adding tofu and ginger to eggs and cheese could make for such a symphony of tastes. It was fantastic!

We definitely plan to make a return trip to Noon Hour Grill (maybe even several!). With our breakfast, we only scratched the surface of Susie's repertoire. Her Korean dishes are praised on all kinds of review sites. She's even managed a four and half star rating on Yelp. Not too many of the bigger, fancier eateries in this city can brag of that. If you go, be patient and wait your turn. Susie has a lot of charm, but only two hands. The dishes she makes with them are worth the extra wait. It is cash only . . . so come prepared!

Noon Hour Grill is located at 6930 N. Glenwood Ave.