Chicago's 12 best brunch pastries

When you need a small sweet during brunch, Chicago restaurants serve up coffee cakes, churros, cinnamon rolls and more

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  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Cinnamon roll at The Bristol.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Beignets at Carriage House.

  • Photograph: Arthur Mullen

    Mexican pastry basket at Frontera.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Churros at GT Fish & Oyster

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Egg Tart at Fat Rice.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Kingsbury Street Cafe

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Vanilla malt coffee cake at Lula Café.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Coffee cake at Nico Osteria.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Coffee cake at The Publican.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Cronut at Table 52

  • Sweet potato doughnuts at Yusho.

Photograph: Martha Williams

Cinnamon roll at The Bristol.

Eggs and pancakes are the workhorses of brunch—they're the main event, and a brunch's success depends on them. But while most side dishes, like bacon, are just there to complement the rest of the meal, these pastries set themselves apart. These pastries—slivers of coffee cake, warm doughnuts, savory scones—are small enough to have in addition to a big entree, but they're packed with flavor, perfectly textured and so delicious we've remembered them long after brunch was over. Here are our picks for the 12 best brunch pastries in the city.


RECOMMENDED: Brunch in Chicago


Pretzel bread pudding at Ada St.

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

At brunch I often debate whether to get something sweet or savory (it's nice that omelettes vs. pancakes is my biggest concern on the weekend), so the idea of pretzel bread pudding is pretty appealing. Though still more sweet than savory, the bread pudding is a good compromise thanks to a salty pretzel topped with maple whipped cream and candied bacon.—Erin Delahanty

  1. 1664 N Ada St
More info

Cinnamon roll at the Bristol

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

We started our brunch with the cinnamon roll, but the Bristol's take on the classic is better for dessert: It's soft, warm, gooey and so delicious it's the last taste you want in your mouth.—Amy Cavanaugh

  1. 2152 N Damen Ave
Book online

Beignets at Carriage House

  • Price band: 2/4

I've never been to New Orleans, but if the beignets at Carriage House are any indication of what I can find in NOLA, then I need to book a flight, stat. Served warm and dusted with powdered sugar, the beignets practically melt in your mouth. As if that wasn't a sweet enough start to the morning, they are served with a side of espresso butterscotch. The beignets don't need the sauce, but it sure doesn't hurt.—ED

  1. 1700 W Division St
Book online

Egg tarts at Fat Rice

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

I didn't expect the standout item at the Macanese restaurant's new brunch to be two tiny tarts. But the lightly sweet custard, presented in a pastry shell, is so good, everyone should get their own order.—AC

  1. 2957 W Diversey Ave
More info

Mexican pastry basket at Frontera Grill

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Whether it's your main course or a side for the table, the $8 basket of pastries is a steal. There's a buttery concha, topped with streusel; a crunchy, carmelized oreja, similar to a French palmier; huachibola, a cream cheese–filled roll with sprinkles; and gordita de piloncillo, a corn-masa doughnut.—AC

  1. 445 N Clark St
More info

Churros at GT Fish & Oyster

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

While I love oysters, I'm thankful GT Fish & Oyster's brunch isn't just seafood-focused. The brunch menu includes an everything bagel–inspired monkey bread and these textbook-perfect churros, which come with a dish of orange cream cheese sauce on the side.—AC

  1. 531 N Wells St
Book online

Cheddar scone at Kingsbury Street Cafe

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Offered as a side or as part of the Kingsbury Café breakfast (along with eggs and ridiculous hash browns), the melt-in-your-mouth scone is rich, yes, but also light enough to allow you to shovel in plenty of other decadent dishes.—Laura Baginski

 

  1. 1523 N Kingsbury St
Book online

Vanilla malt coffee cake at Lula Cafe

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The selection of house pastries rotates, but the vanilla malt coffee cake is my favorite—it's moist and not too sweet, with a dense crumb topping. Get it with a cup of the pour-over coffee at breakfast or brunch.—AC

  1. 2537 N Kedzie Blvd
Book online

Coffee cake at Nico Osteria

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

You won't go wrong with any of Amanda Rockman's morning pastries, but the rotating coffee cake (on my visit, chestnut, now blueberry) is simple but terrific. It has a tender crumb and a layer of filling running through it. It's even better with a tiny drizzle of honey, served on the side.—AC

  1. 1015 N Rush St
Book online

Cinnamon streusel coffee cake at the Publican

  • Price band: 2/4

My brunch date wanted the doughnut, but I insisted we get the coffee cake. It wasn't a mistake: The coffee cake is light as air, with rich cinnamon flavor and sweet topping. We later sampled the doughnut after we traded some of our bacon with our neighbors (one benefit to communal tables!), but the coffee cake was the clear favorite.—AC

  1. 837 W Fulton Mkt
Book online

Cronut at Table Fifty-Two

  • Price band: 3/4

Cronuts don't really fit with the Southern menu at Table Fifty-Two, but I'm not complaining. The pastry, which is served warm, changes fillings regularly, but my strawberry and lemon curd–filled pastry was so good, I'd try a cronut in any flavor.—AC

  1. 52 W Elm St
Book online

Sweet potato doughnuts at Yusho

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

End your Sunday noodle brunch with these beauties—they're perfectly crisp and flavorful on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside.—Martha Williams

  1. 2853 N Kedzie Ave
Book online


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