We know the gay drill: stumble out of bed at noon, shuffle over to Angelina(3561 N Broadway, 773-935-5933) for a boozy brekkie, then cab it to Scarlet(3320 N Halsted St, 773-348-1053) for more bubbly good times. The following places are also tops (or bottoms) in my book.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to brunch in Chicago
At irresistible Tweet(5020 N Sheridan Rd, 773-728-5576), you can satisfy your hunger for “beautiful Benedicts” almost any day of the week (closed Tuesdays), but it’s the attractive staff we wish were on the menu. I don’t want to name names (ahem, Janada), but if I did I’d start with brunch babe Michelle Fire, the longtime owner of both Tweet and next-door Big Chicks who, impossibly, gets sexier with each passing year.
Drenched in the same blue and yellow color palette as the Swedish flag, tiny Svea(5236 N Clark St, 773-275-7738) evokes irresistible Old World charm. The cheap and hearty Viking breakfast ($11), a combination of two eggs, Swedish-style fried potatoes, Falukorv sausage and Swedish pancakes (akin more to crepes than traditional American flapjacks) served with imported lingonberries, is a whirlwind of Scandinavian delights delicious enough to easily trump those gooey good cinnamon rolls at nearby Swede diner Ann Sather(5207 N Clark St, 773-271-6677).
Tastiest rim job
The Giardino at Taverna 750(750 W Cornelia Ave, 773-904-7466), a frothy combination of Hendrick’s Gin, housemade Bloody Mary mix, tomato juice and giardiniera brine, garnished with prosciutto-stuffed olives is a nice alternative to your boring Bloody Mary. But its tastiest feature might just be the combination of cracked black pepper and pink Himalayan sea salt (which owner Paul Cannella fetches from the Coffee & Tea Exchange on Broadway) lining the rim of the svelte glass. I could still taste it on my lips hours later.
This is a tough one. I’ve got to hand it to Hamburger Mary’s(5400 N Clark St, 773-784-6969); its weekend brunch is full of morning savory and sweet treats like PB&J griddle cakes and the tasty breakfast sandwich served on a brioche bun that I was more than happy to order up. Best of all, most items are under $10 and come with a complimentary (and might I add strong) mimosa, and Mary’s keeps ’em coming for just $2 a throw. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Taverna 750 offers four $20 Sunday Funday deals including the popular Drink Connoisseur, a crafted Bloody Mary, specialty martini and espressocello (espresso-based liqueur) with a choice of entrée.
I’ve discovered a new reason to love m. henry(5707 N Clark St, 773-561-1600), the perennial brunch spot that helped pump life into the A-ville stretch of Clark Street north of Hollywood. Among its weekend creations is a thick, chocolate brioche French toast layered with strawberries, raspberry creme and chocolate ganache and topped with fresh raspberry coulis and creme anglais. It’s every bit as good as it sounds and worth those painful weekend waits.
There’s no Gaga blasting, no posturing and not a gay double entendre in sight (not that there’s anything wrong with Kit Kat’s “Macho Man” breakfast). Instead, what Hearty Boys(3819 N Broadway, 773-868-9866) offers is straight-up brunch bliss in a cozy, quiet dining room bathed with light and serviced by a smiley staff. I tried a Farina waffle topped with caramel, with a side of grilled Big Fork bacon sausage and a bottomless cup of Metropolis joe. Then again, if you don’t want to limit your brunch to just one hour (per the restaurant’s request), drag the straighties “upriver” to Big Jones(5347 N Clark St, 773-275-5725) for an underrated New Orleans–style feast featuring treats like the Cajun- style hog’s head pate or “popovers” served with honey butter and homemade fruit preserves. I sat at the bar and sipped a Corpse Reviver #2, a dizzying combination of North Shore Mighty Gin, Cocchi Americano, Mathilde Orange XO, lemon juice and original Herbsaint.