Diners and Cafes of Beloit: Where to go for that good weekend brunch
Bagels and More
324 State St.
Most people have gone to Bagels and More so this will probably be short. While there are some good dishes, such as the biscuits and country gravy and their vegetarian omelets, I am a firm believer that their bagels are the best thing on their menu. If you are just buying the bagels, then I feel that the price point if pretty decent as you can get a baker dozen for under $9 and a bagel with cream cheese is less than $2.50. If you get any of their other made-to-order breakfast food, it is common to spend more than $10 per person with a beverage. For people with a sweet tooth, there are also some really delicious cookies, cakes and pastries available for a reasonable price as well. Depending on when you go, they might have some really sweet deals too. Day old cookies are often $1 for 4 (depending on the cookie) and on Saturdays, they sometimes give away day old loaves of bread if you spend more than $5 making it a great deal. My go to order is a tomato and basil bagel with vegetable cream cheese and fresh onion, tomato and spinach. It’s a nice light option for breakfast. Lastly, the fact that they are open at 6 a.m. during the week, 7 a.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sundays makes it a great stop for those who may have an early morning commitment.
Bushel and Pecks
328 State St.
Bushel and Pecks is probably the most well known destination on this list. The college has several events there over the course of the year and the cafe and market employ several students as well. To get it out there at the start, the biggest issue with this place is the price. In order to eat any of the main courses from their menu, it is almost certain that you are going to spend more than $10, and with a drink, it is very easy to spend $15 or more per person. The products that they sell in the market section tend to be hit or miss in terms of whether or not the price seems appropriate. I love their jams and their hot sauces but, they can be a little bit pricey. In terms of the food that is served their, most of it is pretty good. I only have complaints about two of their dishes: their fish fry and their fries. Both of these dishes are pretty good, however the batter on the fish fry is a little bit thicker than I like and makes the batter immediately touching the fish a little gluey and stickey. I mention their fries only because they tend to be hit or miss. Sometimes they are perfectly crisp and other times they can be soggy, limp, and a little cold. The one aspect that remains constant is the atmosphere. For me, B & P’s atmosphere is great and can be tailored to fit someone trying to get work done as well as someone who is trying to relax and get away for a little bit. 10/10 would recommend as a study spot that serves coffee away from campus a little bit.
934 4th St.
Weekend brunch at Jerry’s is very much a Beloit tradition. Students flock there from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in order to get really solid food at a very reasonable price. Jerry’s has a pretty large menu spanning several pages, double sided, and has options for most people and many dietary restrictions. Not only do they have a large menu, their portions are pretty darn large as well. Two people can easily share their omelettes, breakfast burritos and skillets as well as some of their pancake and waffles meals as well. Even when they are packed, they typically turn around customers fairly quickly meaning that you won’t have to wait outside for a table fairly long. Even if you do have to wait outside, you can always pop over to Jerry’s bakery which has cakes, cookies and most importantly, freshly baked conchas, or mexican sweet breads. Of the diners and cafes listed here, I firmly believe that Jerry’s has the best hash browns. While they may not have any special ingredients and they may not prepared in any special way, they are always hot, crispy, fresh and plentiful which is always a win in my book. This cafe is very much the type of place where you take your family when they are visiting or when you and some friends decide to go out and just chill over brunch. While it can be loud in the small space, it contributes to the good times you have there.
315 Short St.
Of the locations listed in this article, Mr. Bs is the closest dining option to campus. If you are in the Poetry Garden, you are just a quick two-minute, one block, walk away from Mr. Bs, placing it in an ideal for location for great morning-after-golf, hangover food. This little unassuming café serve the typical American breakfast and lunch food every day of the week except for Wednesday. There is seating both inside and outside of the café. If the weather is nice, I highly recommend sitting outside as the tables have a nice view of Horace White Park. Inside, there are a couple of tables near a map where patrons have placed stickers on the city where they are from and as you wait for food, it provides something interesting to study. This café is probably one of the most wallet friendly places on this list. Typically, a meal and a drink will run you under $10. With an ideal location and a price point that’s hard to beat the only thing that bumps it down is the food. Depending on what you order it can be a little greasy and, personally, the hash browns remind that which is served at McDonalds. All of this can be negated if you are still a little drunk from the night before or if you are in great company, like the Round Table Crew.
1055 Gardner St.
South Beloit, IL.
If you go down south a little bit to South Beloit, Neli’s sits right on Gardner. Of all of the eateries listed here, Neli’s is probably the largest. As you walk in, it looks like a Denny’s that has some more decoration and a little more personality. Apart from that, Neli’s menu is very reminiscent of a chain restaurant diner, not that that’s a problem. In fact there food is much better than say a Denny’s or an IHOP. They have some really good sandwiches, like the BBQ Beef, and they have a good walnut and gorgonzola salad as well. Former Editor-in-Chief of the Round Table remarked on Neli’s soups once or twice as well.
1019 Blackhawk Blvd.
South Beloit, IL
Another option across the Stateline border is Nora’s. This little place holds a special place in my heart as it often serves as the meeting and eating place for the fire department’s annual corn boil and every once in a while we will get breakfast there after shift change at 7 a.m. Apart from that, I think that Nora’s Place is very similar to Jerry’s except I think that the staff is a little more friendly and sociable. When walking in, you are greeted and it becomes very obvious who the regulars are, which is fun. While they serve the classic American diner breakfast and lunch meals, many people I know tend to order one their breakfast skillets: a base of hash brown or potatoes, with eggs cooked to order, sometimes meat and vegetables like peppers, onions and mushrooms depending on which skillet you order, all topped with their gravy. It may not be the most healthy option but it is surely stick-to-your-ribs good and it’ll keep you full for many hours. Another great aspect is that you can get chocolate milk like you did as a kid, bringing back nostalgic memories. Nora’s Place is fairly inexpensive as well as it is easy to walk out of the joint without spending more than $10. The only thing I would change about this place is that their coffee is very weak, watery, and reminiscent of, well, diner coffee. However, this is definitely not a reason to not go and pay a visit to Nora’s.
While there are many more diners and cafes in the Beloit area, this list provides you with a pretty decent starting place as to where to go out with friends on some weekends, and may introduce you into go exploring for some new places and support small, local businesses.
As I was creating this list, my housemate Sydney Mercado’19, was looking over my shoulder and gave me the idea of doing similar review articles for taquerias in the area, as we typically only go to La Mexicana across the river. Hopefully we will be able to review some more of the local taquerias and finding out where to go to find the best tacos in town.