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Ria Pell’s breakfast diner has been a Grant Park draw since 2000, a bastion of tattooed waitresses and diverse crowds that mill in the small front parking lot while waiting for a table. Beyond the sense of community, though, the appeal can sometimes waver. The staff can be snippy, and the cooking has lost some of its original finesse: A simple dish like fish and grits, for example, requires a sharper attention to seasoning to give it soul. Pell recently sold her second restaurant, Sauced; here’s hoping that her flagship receives some fine-tuning.
ORDER THIS: The country-fried tempeh with grilled tomato and sauteed spinach, still one of the city’s totemic vegetarian breakfast dishes; beef brisket with poached eggs for the carnivores.
421 Memorial Drive, 404-521-3737, riasbluebird.com