As a reader and writer, I like quiet places to ponder the universe. But in this day of music and distractions in every nook and corner of the world outside my home or car, it is really hard to put the two of these things together. Finding a quiet place to write that also serves good strong coffee has been a mission for awhile.
So when I heard that one of my favorite eateries just celebrated 20 years, well I decided it was time to share my secret…if you haven’t visited Ina Pickney at the restaurant that bears her name at 1235 W. Randolph, you are missing a gem…and a chance to support a fierce leader in our community as well.
There are so many things to love about Ina…a socially conscious advocate that puts out a monthly newsletter in the restaurant and via email (sign up at www.breakfastqueen.com) – covering everything from the need for peace, recipes, healthy eating, and an ongoing commentary on the cluelessness of those in power who make decisions for the rest of us! She gives to our community at every turn and is a tireless advocate for the eradication of polio worldwide!
In her recent email announcing her 20th anniversary, Ina summed up another reason why I love her restaurant – “we fed people delicious, clean, safe food in a nurturing environment” and she does it with NO SMOKING AND NO CELL PHONES ALLOWED! OK, for those of you who are addicted to the technology, let me just say…you can do this! It is so worth it when you taste the food and experience the atmosphere inside her restaurant. You know you are dining on food from good places and good people served really well.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant with a group of friends that you want to catch up with and you end up having to yell to talk to the person next to you, and you miss most of the rest of the conversation by everyone else because the music is simply too loud?! Not going to happen at Ina’s – the music is truly background music, which means people talk in normal voices and have great conversations over great food.
Ina is known as the Breakfast Queen, and believe me, her breakfast rocks! Let me warn though…if you plan on getting some friends together for brunch on the weekend and you think “let’s head to Ina’s” – call ahead! Make a reservation if you can. Lunch is available along with breakfast during the week too. Many a breakfast meeting has been had at Ina’s…another selling point for those of you who have cars…she has a PARKING LOT! Just west of the Loop. Unheard of in this city to be sure.
I must admit that I lamented the day Ina stopped serving dinner. I loved celebrating my birthday there and always had my fav…garlic chicken with garlic mashed potatoes, garlic gravy and garlic spinach! Vampires beware! But subtly was the word for that dish and I relished it with abandon. One can only hope that a sustainable upturn in the economy might someday bring back those great evenings – oh and don’t get me started about the chocolate cake!
And if you go to Ina’s, I am not going to spoil the surprise on every table…suffice it to say for now, look at every table you pass on the way to yours…and see the whimsical fun that awaits each visit.
Oh, and did I say I love strong coffee…there is none better than Ina’s…and she serves it the right way…in a mug that can stand up to the brew! In a place where quiet contemplation is possible…alone or with friends. If you haven’t been to Ina’s Restaurant, put it on your TO DO list and get over there soon. You will be glad you did.
Happy 20th Anniversary, Ina…and many, many more. Be well.