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Food quest: Breakfast in Ukrainian Village

Where to find coffee, pastries and brunch near Western Avenue

  • Get your fix of cruffles, coffee and hash all within a few blocks.
Get your fix of cruffles, coffee and hash all within a few blocks. (RedEye )
April 08, 2013|By Kate Bernot, @redeyeeatdrink | RedEye

Hugging the edges of Wicker Park and Humboldt Park, Ukrainian Village long has been home to funky dive bars and plenty of tucked-away haunts. A new crop of breakfast spots retains the neighborhood vibe and helps make early mornings a little more tolerable. Here's where to chat, chow and get your cruffle on near the Western Avenue border.

First Lizzie's Bake Shoppe 2136 W. Chicago Ave. 312-405-8212

At this 4-month-old bakery, the cruffle is queen. Cruffles, one-bite cake- or dough-filled truffles, are available in nearly 50 rotating flavors such as chocolate, vanilla and confetti cake, as well as hybrids such as beer 'n' bacon and wine 'n' cheese ($1.99). Display cases of cookies, custom cakes, cake pops and cutie pies (fruit-filled hand pies) round out the offerings. As a plus for those with allergies, Lizzie's doesn't allow any nuts in its kitchen or products, so there's a reduced risk of cross-contamination.

Next Dark Matter Coffee 738 N. Western Ave. 773-697-8472

Accomplished local roasters Dark Matter already have proved they know how to run a coffee shop—Humboldt Park's Star Lounge—but this week-old Dark Matter cafe mostly is focused on caffeine to-go. Open weekdays 6 to 11 a.m., the storefront caters to commuters, with only four bar seats and no wi-fi. Get buzzing with espressos, cortados (espresso with a dash of warm milk) or lattes and catch a peek of the on-site roasting works.

Last Hash 1357 N. Western Ave. 773-661-2964

Pick up a bottle of champagne or beer on the way to this two-week-old BYOB breakfast joint, where the focus is on global spins on the namesake dish. Fried plantains, black beans, chihuahua cheese, chorizo and hominy are mixed into the Humboldt Hash, and spicy chickpeas, paneer cheese, yogurt and crispy kale lend an Indian flavor to the Chickpea Hash (both $5.25 small; $6.25 large). A note for vegetarians: Many of the meats can be swapped for soy or tofu substitutes, and bagels, eggs and salads also are available.

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