The 9 best brunch dishes in Chicago

From perfect pancakes to Bloody Marys topped with charcuterie, these are the brunch dishes and drinks we can't stop thinking about

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Flapjacks at Gather

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Photograph: Martha Williams

English breakfast at Au Cheval

 

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Photograph: Marzena Abrahamik

Poached eggs with Nduja at Avec

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Photograph: Erica Gannett

Pork hash at Bite Cafe

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Garlic bologna sandwich at Carriage House

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Whole wheat carrot pancakes at Kingsbury Street Café

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Bloody Mary at Old Town Social

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Photograph: Dave Rentauskas

Fried chicken and waffles at Table Fifty-Two

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Photograph: Nathan Michael

The Trench Double Burger at Trenchermen

While we were diligently brunching around Chicago this winter and spring to compile the list of the 20 best brunch restaurants in the city, a few things stood out. Namely, they were dishes and drinks like an elaborately dressed Bloody Mary, an outrageous bologna sandwich and a perfect stack of pancakes that we couldn't stop talking about when we got back into the office on Monday. Of the many, many brunch dishes we had, these were the nine that stood out. 

RECOMMENDED: The 20 best brunch restaurants in Chicago

English breakfast at Au Cheval

Critics' pick

No, you’re probably not going to finish the whole thing. But that’s shouldn’t stop you from ordering the fantastic English breakfast, with super-creamy eggs, griddled Texas toast, bacon baked beans, a perfect grilled tomato and a couple of thick-cut slices of bacon. Sure, it’s missing the blood sausage you’ll often find in London, but we guarantee you won’t miss it.—Amy Cavanaugh

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West Loop

Poached eggs at avec

Critics' pick

The name of this dish does not do it justice. Yes, there are poached eggs, but they’re placed on top of toast, which has a layer of Nduja, a spreadable, spicy pork sausage. Then everything is covered with a bright lemon hollandaise and greens, which (sort of) make the dish feel a little lighter. It’s the best new play on eggs benedict we’ve seen.–AC

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West Loop

Pork hash at Bite Cafe

We’ve eaten numerous hashes this year, but few are as thoughtful as the one at Bite: Hunks of well-spiced, braised pork shoulder, potatoes, leeks, kale and butternut squash are set atop slices of sourdough toast, and then crowned with poached eggs and a generous splash of spicy hollandaise sauce. This sauce is the key—it ties all the flavors together and it's so delicious we practically licked the plate.—AC  

 

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Ukrainian Village

Garlic bologna sandwich at Carriage House

Drank too much last night? You'll feel better after eating this garlic bologna sandwich. It starts with a buttery brioche bun, which is piled with housemade garlicky bologna, a huge smear of pimento cheese, mustard aioli, pickles and a fried egg with a yolk so wobbly, it’ll start running as soon as you bite into it. Hell, you want this sandwich even if you aren’t hungover.—AC

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Wicker Park

Flapjacks at Gather

Anyone who argues there’s no reason to order plain pancakes at a restaurant when you can easily make them at home hasn’t had the beauties at Gather. So moist, so fluffy, so light—I’ve never had better in any restaurant or home (sorry, Dad).—Laura Baginski

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Ravenswood

Whole wheat carrot pancakes at Kingsbury Street Cafe

Critics' pick

The whole wheat and carrot say “healthy,” the maple cream cheese and pecans say “who the hell do you think you’re kidding?” These pancakes are like the lightest, fluffiest carrot cake you can imagine, with the whole wheat taking out some of the cloying sweetness. The maple cream cheese isn’t too heavy and the pecans add a perfect crunch.—LB

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Lincoln Park

Bloody Mary at Old Town Social

Critics' pick

The Bloody Mary is fantastic and a meal unto itself—it's made with Grey Goose and topped with basically a whole charcuterie plate: thick wedges of salami and smoked cheddar, a giant pepper stuffed with prosciutto and provolone, and a pickled pod of okra.—Kris Vire

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Old Town

Buttermilk fried chicken and waffles at Table Fifty-Two

The signature dish at Art Smith’s Table Fifty-Two is the fried chicken and waffles, and there’s a reason why: The chicken is perfectly fried, while the waffles are nicely crunchy. It comes with a tiny mason jar of warm maple syrup—pour it over the whole dish to give it a salty-sweet flavor.—AC

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Gold Coast

The Trench Double Burger Trenchermen

Critics' pick

The Trench Double Burger is the food we dream about on mornings where you're still half in the bag from the night before and brunch is necessary to make the room stop spinning. Two juicy patties with aged cheddar and pickles—it is in every way the perfect combination of meat, cheese and bread. Heck, it's the burger we dream about even when we aren't trying to cure a massive hangover. Plus, it goes down easily with one of Trenchermen's Beermosas, made of beer, grapefruit and honey.—Erin Delahanty

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Wicker Park

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