Summer days call for heartwarming treats. Good news: That’s exactly what you’ll get at Le Pain Quotidien, a new bakery and restaurant that Chicago kids are going to go wild for (can you say “plate-sized chocolate chip cookies”?). We’re getting not one, but three locations of this sensation that started in Belgium and is a hit on both coasts. Now open is the West Loop location, with a Lincoln Park outpost opening May 22 and a Gold Coast spot opening July 6.
Le Pain Quotidien (which translates from French to “the daily bread”) combines healthful options and guilty pleasures in a farmhouse-style atmosphere that feels like a warm embrace from your Euro relatives, real or imagined.
The story behind the cafe is a floury fairy tale. Founder Alain Coumont was raised in Belgium, where visits to his grandma’s house, filled with warming cups of cocoa, became the stuff of cherished memories. That sense of Belgian hospitality is what beget Le Pain Quotidien, which first popped up in Brussels in 1990 and has spread like wildfire. Offering the perfect middle ground between comfort food (grilled chicken and mozarella tartines) and health-conscious (organic lentil and avocado salads), this crowd pleaser has something for everyone.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner is served, and choices run the gamut from gourmet sandwiches to salads to quiches to soups. But you’ll be just as inclined to pop in for a pastry or loaf of bread. Best of all, there’s a thoughtful kids’ menu featuring organic eggs, yogurt, oatmeal, and kiddie versions of tartines, the open-faced Belgian sandwiches this spot is known for.
Le Pain Quotidien is ingratiating itself into the Midwest by sourcing products locally, and the just-opened West Loop location sports an in-house bakery that will supply breads and pastries daily for the forthcoming Gold Coast and Lincoln Park locales.
In the true spirit of a country farmhouse, the open and inviting cafe has room for strollers, so roll right in. Belly up to a table made of reclaimed wood, and pull up a highchair, if you need one. Tables are communal and are all part of the familial appeal.
If you want goodies to go, check out the retail section that stocks Le Pain Quotidien products, including organic jams, chocolate spreads and cold-pressed olive oil.
Le Pain Quotidien’s inaugural Chicago location is in the West Loop by the Chicago French Market. It’s accessible via the Madison Avenue bus and is a few blocks south of the Clinton Green Line stop. It’s also right next to Ogilvie Station.
West Loop location:
135 N. Clinton St.
Lincoln Park location:
1000 W. Armitage St.
Gold Coast location:
10 E. Delaware Pl.
Will you visit this exciting new bakery and cafe? Let us know in the Comments!
— Matt Kirouac