Review by: Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
Excellent | Worth a Detour
See It Before You Commit to Eat It
“See Your Food.” That’s Valois’ motto. It makes sense when you know that it serves food cafeteria-style. This South Side cafeteria gives you the opportunity to see your food before you order it. And as in all cafeterias, you need to fight back the urge to pile your tray with more food than you can eat.
What To Eat
The folks behind the steam tables have a casual, laconic, seen-it-all manner about them. They know what goes with what and will lead you in the direction of, say, roasted potatoes if you order the short ribs. Browning and long-braising leaves the short ribs as tender as pot roast. As a matter of fact, It makes sense at Valois to zero in on long-cooked items like the short ribs. Our intuition tells us that the lamb shank with spaghetti, for instance, would be just as good.
At well under $10, hot sandwiches are a bargain. Hot turkey comes with an abundance of broad breast slices next to mashed potatoes and plenty of brown gravy.
Breakfast is particularly popular here. You’ll find all the usual suspects at low, low prices.
As in most cafeterias, not everything is wonderful. We had a pretty drab wedge of lemon cream pie and our late-lunch biscuits were dry, hard, and staling. But the pumpkin pie fan among us loved her wedge. The peach cobbler was sweet, goopy, and huge.
Taste of South Side Chicago
Valois has a comfortable, urban, somewhat institutional air about it which we happen to find very appealing. It’s been around since 1921, at this Hyde Park location since the 1950s, with these owners since the late ’60s. The name? You’re in a heartland cafeteria, son, not a Paris bistro. The name rhymes with “the toys”; don’t say val-wha. The clientele is pretty much a cross-section of everyone who typically lives in a big city.
Fans of Barack Obama know this South Side cafeteria as the place he regularly ate breakfast when he lived nearby. His morning meal was scrambled egg whites, turkey sausage, and whole wheat toast.
Directions & Hours
- Monday: 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM
- Tuesday: 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM
- Wednesday: 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM
- Thursday: 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM
- Friday: 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM
- Saturday: 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM
- Sunday: 6:00 AM – 3:00 PM
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|