Real Food Cafe invites community in for comfort food


Cheerful, yellow walls greeted me upon my entry, and genuine smiles all around warmed me to my core. I knew from the moment that I walked into Real Food Cafe that it was a place of contented diners, comfort food, and community. The decor screamed old-school diner, and a fluorescent “welcome” sign warmly glowed on the back wall. Accompanied by homey smells, Real Food Cafe was really starting to shape up to its happy reputation.

After signing in on the waitlist, we were quickly seated at a table by a friendly waitress who offered a kind smile with the menus. While she went off to fulfill our drink orders, we quietly sat in awe of this hidden gem in Alger Heights. Natural sunlight streamed in through big windows on the far side, illuminating the vintage food posters that were artfully positioned on every wall and the funky collectibles on shelves. Good times were had all around us, and it felt like nothing could ever be so bad that it couldn’t be fixed by a cup of joe and a stack of pancakes.

Even without the food, Real Food Cafe was an extraordinarily wonderful place and seemingly a center for community. Regular customers merrily chatted over their breakfast to good-natured wait staff, and locals walking past would stop in to say hello to their neighbors. People of all ages were settled at various tables, and everyone there- no matter how old- was enjoying themselves beyond what my words could describe.

Turning my attention back to the menu, I quickly scanned the options, and my eyes lingered on the Tuesday Morning Special: a plate of eggs with pancakes and a side of bacon or sausage. My appetite was beginning to catch up with me after my morning run, so I decided on the generous plate of food.

But after a moment of thought, I concluded that the special wasn’t nearly special enough for me. I looked over the griddle section, and my eyes landed on the dried cherry and pecan pancakes. Perfect. Of all my choices, the dried cherry and pecan pancake appealed to me most, and added to the special, I would be set to go.

Good times were had all around us, and it felt like nothing could ever be so bad that it couldn’t be fixed by a cup of joe and a stack of pancakes.”

Our waitress took our orders, and fortunately, the wait was not long at all. When our waitress came back with our food, she slid the plates in front of us, and not long after, our mouths were watering. My friend’s Belgian waffle was topped with a large swirl of whipped cream, and you could easily tell that it was cooked to crisp perfection. My dried cherry and pecan pancake was speckled with powdered sugar, and my eggs and sausage were on the side. Although the presentation wasn’t fancy, the food was simply delicious comfort food, and it didn’t need any added decoration.

After only a few bites, I was in pure bliss. I am absolutely fanatical about pancakes, so really any pancake will float my boat; but to me, this pancake was superb. The flavor from the dried cherry and the crunch from the pecans added plenty of zest to the basic pancake, which was soft and fluffy. The added eggs and sausage on the side were also tasty, but they weren’t anything out of the ordinary.

To describe Real Food Cafe, I would say that it has real character and a welcoming atmosphere. Their food is generally diner food, but personally, that is a wonderful aspect. I immediately fell in love with the cafe and the wonderful community, and I think most other people would too after a visit.