Juicy-O Pancake House
2942 Finley Rd.
Downers Grove, IL 60515
December 11 and 17, 2007
We visited Juicy-O on the way to a job interview I had more than a year ago, enjoyed our meal there immensely, and then promptly forgot not just its name but also the suburb that we were passing through when we found it. The only thing I remembered about its location was its proximity to a Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant, which is all we had to go by for quite some time until I found this last week. I don't know if this completely validates the existence of Downers Grove or not, but at least it's a start.
The first thing you'll notice while walking in the door is the abundance of pictures and signs hanging up. A lot of breakfast restaurants put up framed posters on their walls; specifically, I've seen this, this, this, and ones like this hanging up in different family restaurants/pancake houses, not just here but in other states. Juicy-O isn't content to mimic this motif of contrived spontaneous nostalgia. Instead, their gallery consists not of faux-vintage prints, but framed quotes in the form of arcastic observations, quasi-motivational sayings, self-deprecatory humor and various other maxims and adages. I never want to be "that guy," but despite the head-scratching stupidity of so many of these, I caught myself reading a few out loud, probably to the annoyance of the surrounding waitstaff.
Juicy-O make choosing the perfect breakfast easy: their entire menu is available on their website. On my first visit, I ordered the "pancake flight": one order of pancakes topped with strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. Very good, maybe not as great as The Manor's assorted fruit pancake, but a great bargain for anyone who loves fruit pancakes. Some whipped cream would complement this nicely. I guess I could have requested some. I also wish I'd taken a sharper picture of it all than this. The plate wasn't sliding across the table at a high speed or anything, so there's really no excuse for the blurry atrocity of a photograph pictured below.
Returning to Juicy-O a week later, I wanted something different. Crepes? Waffles? I went with French toast, "Thick Cinnamon Swirl" French toast. This was an adequate breakfast but wasn't as rich as I'd hoped. No cinnamon butter spread either, unfortunately. Maybe Juicy-O was watching out for my health.
I get the feeling that even with three visits under our belt, we're still only scratching the surface of what Juicy-O has to offer. I haven't even mentioned their juice bar, or the free (and delicious) doughnuts they offer during breakfast. All this in a spacious, colorful, and fun restaurant, with fewer gimmicks than my rambling description has probably suggested. I can't wait to go back again! And no, I'm not just saying that to get their customer of the month award.
Ayinsan here. On our first visit to Juicy-O, I had the banana foster French toast. I remember it being good, though that was so long ago I can't say much else about it. On our second visit, a few weeks ago, I had Juicy-O's basic breakfast combo--two pancakes, two eggs, two sausage links and two bacon strips. Most breakfast places have some variation of this. It's a nice balance of foods, and all very tasty. Their pancakes are soft and fluffy, the eggs look and taste like real eggs, the sausage was big and juicy and the bacon was...bacon-y.
On our most recent visit I tried the strawberry pancakes. Not bad, but strawberries and pancakes is not the best combination. Strawberries are great with waffles or blintzes, but pancakes, I have found, are best in their purest and simplest form, their warm fluffy goodness graced only with melted butter and maple syrup.
Joe's already remarked on the large number of framed saying on the walls. They range from mildly clever to irritating to nonsensical. "I used to have a dog, and he was a good dog" reads ones, "but these days he'd be a 'Canine American.'" Okay, whatever that means. Another reads, "Sarcasm is one of the many services we offer," but no one in the restaurant offered us sarcasm, so I think that qualifies as false advertising.
I should comment on Juicy-O's "bubble tea." I'd never had bubble tea before, and based on the name, I was expecting it to be kind of like, you know, tea. Actually, it was more like a fruit smoothie. Very thick. Not that that's a bad thing, I just wasn't prepared for it. I got the "peaches and cream" flavor. You can get bubble tea with or without tapioca. I am not wild about tapioca in general, but in the past I'd only encountered it in pudding. Here, it came in the form of free-floating, dark blue globules near the bottom of the glass. Chewing on one of these is a unique experience. One was enough for me, but if you like tapioca you might have a different reaction.
Overall? I recommend Juicy-O. Tasty food, and the prices, while not cheap, are about what you'd expect for a restaurant of this type. Just be forewarned; the framed sayings on the walls, while not particularly funny, are strangely addictive to read, and you will find yourself attempting to read every single one.