Midwest Living Review
If pastry chef Kurstin Harris' caramel-cream cheese French toast won't get you out of bed, her homemade strawberry jam and buttery biscuits will. A rallying cry of "Wakey, wakey eggs n' bakey!" painted on The Chef's window lets you know what goodness awaits inside the cheery breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Manhattan. Customers seated at the chrome horseshoe counter and teal blue tables tuck into piles of fluffy pancakes and fresh berry-loaded fruit bowls sided with homemade granola and yogurt. The menu features 18 morning specials, including smoked salmon Benedict and a spicy bulging breakfast burrito ($7$12). We love the a la carte approach to breakfast that mixes mini versions of the delish breakfast platters ($2 for a small plate). A half order of homemade sausage gravy atop a biscuit is plenty filling at $2.75. Choose from 11 sandwiches and a kids' menu, too. The Chef has long been a Manhattan hangout, opening in 1943 and closing in 1986. In 2008, restaurateurs Kurstin and her husband, Kevin, bought the space and learned its culinary history. They acquired the diner's original neon sign from the Riley County Historical Society, hung historic photos of Manhattan on the yolk-yellow walls and opened The Chef's doors again. So now locals have good reason again to rise early.