Northwest Herald

Mystery Diner in McHenry: Plenty of tasty options tempt at Brunch Cafe

I ordered the sweet potato skillet ($13.50) with an egg over hard on top and an English muffin on the side. The skillet came with sweet potato tots, ham, gouda and apple.

A great skillet offers a delicious bite filled with a mix of ingredients – and then another delicious bite in which different flavors come forward and you taste something new.

I had that experience recently when I ordered the sweet potato skillet at Brunch Cafe on Route 31 in McHenry. A local, family owned and operated restaurant group, Brunch Cafe has eight locations total, including Huntley and Fox River Grove.

The menu at Brunch Cafe is extensive, offering anything related to breakfast or lunch you could be hankering for.

Brunch Cafe has eight locations in the Chicago suburbs, including the one we visited at 414 Route 31 in McHenry.

I was feeling like breakfast, and am a big fan of skillets, so that part of the menu is where I started.

The sweet potato skillet ($13.50) – with sweet potato tots, ham, apple and Gouda – grabbed my attention, but the lineup also included carnitas hash ($14) with pork, red and green peppers, onion, red salsa and Brunch potatoes; an Irish take ($12.50) with corned beef and Swiss cheese; meat and potato ($13) with ham, diced bacon, sausage and cheddar; and Ay Caramba ($13), a spicier choice with chorizo, jalapeño, onion, tomato, cheddar, sour cream and salsa.

And that’s not the full list.

Brunch Cafe also offers variations on omelets, stuffed scrambled eggs, crepes, waffles, French toast, pancakes and eggs Benedict – plenty of ways to go sweet or savory depending on your brunch preference.

The menu pays real attention to options for the health-conscious (or when you’re trying to feel health-conscious), as well as to temptations for the days when you just want to feel decadent.

The Signature French toast ($11), for example, features baked custard French bread, topped with kiwi, strawberries and two different glazes: vanilla bean and strawberry.

There’s also salmon toast ($15), smoked salmon served on rustic whole grain bread with avocado, cream cheese, capers, red onion and chili flakes, accompanied by a side salad.

My fellow diner was more into the lunch options, picking the chicken salad sandwich ($12), with a side of fruit.

My fellow diner ordered the chicken salad sandwich ($12) with a side of fruit.

Some of the other sandwich options, which all come with a choice of side, include an apple Gouda melt ($12.50) with ham, Gouda cheese and cranberry mayo on apple bread; the Brunch chicken ($13) with grilled chicken, sliced apple, avocado, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce and French dressing on ciabatta; and a salmon BLT ($14.50) with smoked salmon, tomato, bacon, a spring lettuce mix, mayo and capers on multigrain ciabatta.

The menu also offers salads, paninis, wraps and burgers.

I found Brunch Cafe a good choice, especially for diners with disparate tastes. And for those looking for a little bubbly to accompany their brunch, the restaurant offers both traditional mimosas and a strawberry variation, as well as bloody marys.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.

• Seeking reader suggestions: We welcome readers to share their recommendations of places they would like the Mystery Diner to visit. Email ideas to


WHAT: Brunch Cafe

WHERE: 414 S. Route 31, McHenry; also 935 Route 22, Fox River Grove; 12270 Princeton Drive, Huntley

PHONE: 815-344-4055 (McHenry)