5/9Photograph: Martha WilliamsEstrellados y tampique�a at Mercadito
6/9Photograph: Jason LittleMarket quiche at 2Sparrows
7/9Photograph: Martha WilliamsAlmond Danish at Toni's Patisserie and Cafe
8/9Photograph: Martha WilliamsCarrot-whole-wheat pancakes at Kingsbury Street Cafe
9/9Purchase Time Out Chicago's 2012 Eating & Drinking Guide.
Full English fry up at Owen & Engine Hands down, this British pub is putting out one of the best brunches in the city, from the ornate coffee service (each saucer carrying a tiny cookie) to the made-in-house seasonal scones. If you have any lingering doubts that this place is the real deal, the full English breakfast—baked beans, fried egg, grilled tomato, bacon and expertly made blood sausage—will put them to rest.
Fried chicken and waffles at Table Fifty-Two When Art Smith’s restaurant launched its brunch service, this highlight emerged: the chance to eat his incomparable fried chicken from the dinner menu, for breakfast—and this time getting to smother it with Burton’s maple syrup.
Bagel sandwich at Nightwood Going to Nightwood regularly is to concede that whatever your favorite dish was from your previous visit will no longer be on the menu. Is that why we’ve latched on to one of the few always-present brunch items, this bagel with lush trout cream cheese and a fried egg? Or is it because it is the single best breakfast sandwichever invented?
Mashbrown at Bite The search for the perfect hash browns is a trail of disappointment. Fortunately, the path ends at the remodeled Bite, where a patty of skin-on potato mash is always fried to a golden crisp.
Estrellados y tampiqueña at Mercadito When it comes to brunch, we don’t fuck around. We order steak and eggs, and we challenge you to find a better, more fairly priced version than this aggressively seasoned $12 skirt steak.
Breakfasts of champions
In 2011, waking up got a little easier. That was thanks to new breakfast-and-lunch spots that called out to us even as early in the week as Tuesday (getting up early on a Monday is still out of the question). Of all the spots that opened, perhaps none got as much pre-opening buzz as 2Sparrows, which is helmed by a duo of fine-dining vets. These guys put out a quiche that is closer in texture to a soufflé—and that’s a marvelous thing. In the Loop, Toni Marie Cox opened an outpost of her Toni Patisserie, and the marble-replete space is a fine room in which to drink a cappuccino and eat one of Cox’s soft, sweet almond Danish. For the best breakfast of your year, though, you’ve got to get to Kingsbury Street Cafe, a place that came out of nowhere (actually, it’s a branch of Work of Art catering, which has been feeding high-profile clients in this town for years) to change the breakfast game with its tender, sweet and maybe (but probably not) healthy carrot-whole-wheat pancakes.