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Where to eat near the Pride Parade route

If you're watching the Pride Parade or taking part in the weekend's festivities, you're going to need to eat some brunch

Photo courtesy DryHop Brewers
Grab brunch at DryHop Brewers before the pride parade.

All that sun. All those floats. All that vodka. Pride weekend in Chicago is a celebration of excess, and if you want to survive this thing, you better eat. Here are our picks for some good Chicago restaurants (including Mexican restaurants and some of the best diners in town) to have brunch or lunch near your Parade-watching perch.

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Where to eat near the pride parade route

The Bagel

The Bagel never goes away…it just moves locations. In its current spot (the third since 1950) the deli manages to bring a little Jewish curmudgeonliness to Boystown. So when you’re at the counter ordering your potato knish or sitting in one of the booths dipping a fluffy roll into the magnificent, housemade chicken soup, expect to have a brusque comment or two thrown your way. After all, the Bagel hasn’t survived all these years by being nice.

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Boystown

The Bar on Buena

To the delight of bar-starved Uptown residents, this cozy spot offers 19 beers on tap, 12 wines by the glass, comfortable couches, a large-screen TV that folds away when the game is over and garage door–style front windows. Cleetus Friedman handles the menu, so expect better-than-average bar food like tacos, burgers and grilled cheese. There's a new brunch menu that leans Mexican, including solid chilaquiles and brunch drinks.

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Lakeview

Bar Pastoral

Critics' pick

Like Pastoral’s retail stores, the emphasis at this bistro is on cheese (it plays a starring role in the menu, in small-ish plates like roasted cauliflower with Emmentaler-Mornay sauce), small-production wines (all glasses are $10, with half-pours available for $5) and charcuterie (duck-rillettes parfait, housemade ham). Unlike Pastoral’s retail stores, someone else is responsible for assembling all this into a cohesive meal.

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Lakeview

Cheesie's Pub & Grub

"Do you like grilled cheese? Do you also like macaroni and cheese?" Answer affirmatively to both of these questions, and the woman behind the counter of this divey bar where grilled cheese—and only grilled cheese—is served will conclude that you will like the Mac: mac and cheese between two pieces of Texas toast. It's a mess of a sandwich, just like all the others, which come topped with less extreme ingredients, such as chicken breast or ham. And yes, the combination of Merkts cheddar, American cheese, elbow noodles and the cutest little cup of spicy tomato soup is very hard not to like. Stumble into Cheesie's blitzed from next-door Berlin, and it might just be love.

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Lakeview

Chicago Diner

Even non-vegetarians know Chicago Diner. The vibe is normal, everyday diner, albeit with soy milk, tofu and tempeh on the giant menu. Waits for weekend brunch can get painful (even though the menu is served daily), but patient non-meat-eaters are rewarded with dense (and fairly flaky) soy margarine biscuits. French toast is a little soggy and lackluster—but after all, this is diner food. If you still have room, try the vegan caramel crunch torte for dessert.

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Boystown

Crisp

The Korean-style chicken at this cheery storefront is fresh, of good quality and comes slathered in three sauces: a sticky barbecue, a hot sauce–laced buffalo and a sesame-soy glaze dubbed “Seoul Sassy.” There’s also a decent bibimbap (best ordered with “marinated” vegetables, beef, an egg and brown rice) and Korean-style burritos whose fresh vegetables benefit from a liberal slather of sweetish hot sauce, but the chicken is the thing.

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Lakeview

DryHop Brewers

Critics' pick

We’re smitten with the burger at DryHop Brewers, and our love affair continues into brunch. The burger is available (and you can add an egg on it, of course), but at brunch we’re going to cheat on it with the Captain’s French toast, challah bread soaked in a rum and cream batter and crusted with Cap’n Crunch cereal. The liquid cheesecake and warm bourbon maple syrup further make us wonder why we usually go savory at brunch. If you do, though, make sure your meal includes Grandma’s buttermilk potato casserole, with country ham and emmental cheese, a much better side dish than the too-dry biscuits with weak gravy. And you’re in a brewery, so you’re pretty much required to get a small pour of draft beer (we like the wheat IPA Shark Meets Hipster) alongside your bloody mary.

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Lakeview

Falafill

Critics' pick

Maher Chebaro is a man who loves condiments. So while practically the only thing on the menu at his Lakeview storefront is falafel—fried to order and greaseless—it’s the salad bar visit that comes with each falafel pita or bowl that makes this place well worth a visit. There, toum (emulsified roasted garlic), sweet bulgur salad, spicy pickled ginger and creamy tabouli easily turn very good falafel into a very satisfying meal.

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Boystown

HB Home Bistro

Let’s go over this one more time, because it’s still a little confusing: The Hearty Boys used to own this restaurant, but no more—now they’re running their own place in a studiolike complex around the corner. Victor Morenz's ever-changing menu might include housemade Italian sausage, pan-roasted spring chicken or a griddled lamb burger.

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Boystown

Kitchen 17

This vegan cafe in Lakeview focuses on food made with their house-made seitan, like a meatball sub or pizzas with seitan pepperoni. A very good veggie burger is made hearty with quinoa flour and soy protein added to roasted herbs and vegetables, while a weekly selection of desserts ranges from cake slices to cupcakes to fudge.

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Lakeview
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