Tempo Cafe

Jina Hassan

Greasy spoons a la Burger King aren’t the only answer to late-night appetites in the Loop when clubs close. Tempo Cafe, on the corner of State Street and Chestnut Avenue, is an oasis amid uninspiring eateries, boasting 24-hour service and quick comfort food in an upscale atmosphere without being overbearing. A terraced entryway leads into a welcoming anteroom, where patrons can opt for outdoor or indoor seating. Inside, comfy leather booths and maple woodwork meet vaulted ceilings and windows mimicking French doors.

Service is both attentive and discrete. From the moment of arrival, visitors can count on their mugs being kept full of freshly ground coffee. A disclaimer to those who expect cafes to have extensive drink menus: Beverages are limited to coffee drinks, fruit juices and milkshakes. No frou-frou drinks here.

Excluding specialty drinks, this cafe offers a bit of everything. Tempo’s eclectic dishes range from light entrees to hearty meat and seafood platters. Its golden french fried shrimp comes on toast with cocktail sauce, while those craving red meat may opt for the Mediterranean skirt steak, char-broiled with lemon and oregano.

But at its best Tempo is a breakfast joint, with a behemoth variety of pancakes, waffles, French toast and eggs. The Jamaican omelet features bananas, walnuts and honey. Lighter eaters might want to try the fresh fruit plate while hungrier mouths might like the buckwheat banana walnut pancakes, served with powdered sugar and bananas cooked into the batter.

There is little wonder why Tempo beats strong after years of business. By 10:30 a.m. the cafe is already half-full. This cozy neighborhood eatery is an all-inclusive invitation to fine dining, day or night.

— Jina Hassan

Tempo Cafe6 E. Chestnut St.(312) 943-4373

Hours:Open 24 hours a day, every day