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Breakfast and brunch | 100 best things we ate and drank in 2012

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha Williams

Brunch tower at Allium
The Four Seasons killed its brunch buffet this year and replaced it with a tasting menu that starts with this tower of rotating tiny bites. Think crisp potato pancakes with salmon, wispy cr�pes filled with ricotta, and cold, plump shrimp. In other words, think luxury, girl.

 (Photograph: Sarah Lawhead)
Photograph: Sarah Lawhead

Bacon steak at Autre Monde
That�s right�it�s not bacon, it�s a bacon steak. These folks cure the pork belly in-house, cut it thick and slap it on the wood-burning grill. The result is chewy in parts, crispy in others and smoky all over.

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha Williams

Biscuits and gravy at Bang Bang Pie Shop
This caf�s buttery biscuits, cloaked in peppery gravy, are the ugliest plate of food we�ve ever wanted to bathe ourselves in.


Croissant from Beurrage
How did no one tell us about these flaky, buttery, astoundingly well-made croissants, sold at the Pilsen farmers� market, until the end of summer? Luckily, they�re also available online.

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha Williams

Biscuits at Markethouse
Breakfast at Markethouse ain�t nothing without Scott Walton�s flaky, endlessly layered buttermilk biscuits. (Oh, they also come with sausage, gravy and three eggs.)

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha Williams

Chilaquiles at Mercadito
There�s one instance where crisp tortilla chips with soggy bits are okay: When they�re soaked in crema and tomatilla sauce.

 (Photograph: Jessica Zerby)
Photograph: Jessica Zerby

Huevos al bajio at Mixteco Grill
Benedicts seem boring after brunch here, where sopes serve as crispy masa boats for poached eggs drowned in creamy poblano sauce topped with crumbled chorizo, tomatoes and cilantro.

 (Photograph: Courtesy Nellcote)
Photograph: Courtesy Nellcote

Quiche at Nellc�te
Because the quiche here is not served as a slice but as a full, miniature pie, the crust-to-quiche ratio is practically 1:1�which is completely in keeping with Nellc�te�s mission to achieve maximum opulence.

 (Photograph: Jason Little)
Photograph: Jason Little

Kimchee mortadella bao at Trenchermen
Any place that has La Colombe�s Pure Black iced coffee on tap is going to be serious about mornings, and Trenchermen�s Sunday brunch doesn�t disappoint. Barely anything on this menu resembles other brunches in the city, especially this hot, gooey mess of a ham-and-cheese sandwich. We�d eat this for lunch or dinner or late-night, but to have it first thing in the morning sets an ambitious tone for the rest of the day.