If there’s one thing we learned from the seemingly endless rounds of Bloody Marys, stacks of French toast too big to finish, long waits for seats while we were battling hangovers and more cups of coffee than we could count, it’s this: Brunch in Chicago is only getting better and better. These are the best spots for brunch right now.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to brunch in Chicago
Best Chicago brunch restaurants
This Logan Square whiskey bar and Michelin-starred restaurant already blends high- and lowbrow with its menu of whiskey shots and fancy plates. The brunch menu does, too—you can dig into a plate of eggs and bacon with a cold PBR on the side, while your date noshes on granola with smoked blueberries and horchata gel. But no matter what you get to eat, you can come together over Dark Matter coffee and excellent drinks.
When you’ve had one too many Malört shots the night before, hangover grub is the quickest way to recover. Au Cheval is your best bet—try the English breakfast (creamy scrambled eggs, Texas toast, bacon and baked beans) or the chilaquiles (big enough for two, with warm salsa, guac and pickled onions). Oh, you just want the famous Au Cheval burger? You can get that, too, of course.
Brunch is served daily at Cherry Circle Room, where food from Peter Coenen and cocktails from Paul McGee combine for a wonderfully delicious meal. While you peruse the menu, start with the CCR Milk Punch—coffee mixed with bourbon, rum and milk—then try a smoky Red Snapper alongside Scotch eggs made with lamb sausage. By the time the fried-egg-topped crab cake or gooey triple cheeseburger arrives, you’ll be ready for a refreshing gin fizz made with Earl Grey tea. Once you’re done, spend the afternoon playing bocce and, yes, sipping cocktails in the Game Room.
The best doughnuts in the city are hiding in an unlikely place: a modern Central European restaurant in River North. Here, chef Jimmy Papadopoulos and crew turn out warm orbs of fried dough tossed with sugar and served with Bavarian cream and raspberry jam. The rest of the menu is just as stellar: Tender nuggets of beef tongue mingle with potatoes and cabbage in the hash, while the giant open-faced schnitzel sandwich could easily serve two.
With locally made products, house-made jams and baking mixes on the shelves, Southport Grocery and Cafe isn’t your run-of-the-mill grocery store. That’s because it also has a café that serves famous cupcake batter pancakes, an omelet filled with pimiento cheese, and biscuits and gravy with house-smoked brisket. When you’re done, pick up the ingredients to replicate these dishes at home.
For those days when you don’t want to wait in line or just want a light brunch, head to Baker Miller for freshly milled grain dishes. Think perfect grits topped with seasonal ingredients, oatmeal with sweet-cherry jam and cream, and warm sourdough cinnamon rolls. Be a peach and take some sprinkle sandwich-cookies home to your roommates.
This eatery gets a lot of (much-deserved) love for its malted-custard French toast, but when we go to Jam, it’s for the inventive daily waffle, which is ever-changing. It may be a buckwheat waffle with whitefish and a quail egg in cremini-mushroom sauce or a blue-cheese waffle with fried chicken. The chorizo omelet, packed with onions and piquillo peppers, is another worthy order.
A British-Indian beer bar may not sound like a place for a killer brunch, but we assure you it is. Start with a bright Bloody Mary, laden with lemon, lime and hot sauce, or select a pint from the always-rotating beer and cider list. Then order the stuffed paratha, flaky and packed with bacon, potato and cheese; kedgeree (white rice mixed with smoked fish); or a rice bowl topped with a potato samosa and egg in a spicy butter sauce.
When was the last time you had biscuits bathed in chorizo-verde gravy, avocado toast accented with persimmons or Dark Matter nitro coffee on draft at a diner? Dove’s Luncheonette, the Southern-tinged Tex-Mex spot in Wicker Park, is not your average greasy spoon. If you overdid it last night, make your first order the Back to Life Cocktail, which comes in a sundae glass crammed with marinated seafood and peppers—a magical hangover cure.
The brunch menu at this sunny Hyde Park restaurant changes regularly, and while you never know quite what you’ll find, it’s worth a visit to see. Pastries including a sweet-potato coffee cake offer a desserty start, while the rotating roster of eggs Benedicts is the city’s most inventive: There’s one with house-smoked pork and beer-mustard hollandaise, for example. The crushed fingerling potatoes, basking in sauce gribiche and sprinkled with sea salt, are one constant. So simple yet so perfect.
Lula Cafe isn’t a vegetarian restaurant, but with dishes like a tofu-and-veggie scramble with ginger-miso sauce and a grain bowl with hazelnut vinaigrette, Jason Hammel’s menu appeals to vegetarian diners. Breakfast and brunch are available daily (except Tuesday), which means if you’re an ambitious Logan Square–ite, you can pop in for coffee and a vegetarian burrito before work. On weekends you’ll likely wait, but the house-made pastries, gingerbread French toast and a gin Bloody Mary make it worth it.
How to make the perfect biscuits and gravy: Start with heavenly biscuits, add crisp chicken, smother it all in sausage gravy and top with bright pickles. The Bristol nails this dish, just as it does the gooey cinnamon buns, a smoked-ham Benedict with mustard hollandaise and pretty much anything else the chefs put their minds to. Go hungry and start with the pâté-garnished Bloody Mary.
Okay, you should probably make a reservation to cut the wait time and get right down to sharing orders of thick maple-syrup-braised bacon, egg scrambles and brunch pastries like coffee cake. Round out your meal by splitting orders of egg-topped frites and spicy pork rinds. The drinks, like a chipotle-tequila Bloody Mary and a $5 blend of Montenegro, beer and grapefruit juice, turn brunch into a party.
Take Mom out for a relaxed, sweet-filled Mother’s Day brunch, like the one you’ll find at Big Jones, Paul Fehribach’s lovely Southern spot in Andersonville. The meal begins with complimentary beignets, sprinkled with sugar. Then branch out to a savory dish, like eggs Benedict with house-cured ham, or a sweet offering, like buckwheat banana pancakes. Either way, you’ve earned some serious Mom points.
During the week, we head to this British pub for burgers and pub fare, but on Sundays, we go for its wonderfully elegant brunch. Slather crumpets with butter and house-made jam while sipping Owen & Engine’s stout-coffee blend. Then move on to savory oatmeal risotto, cured salmon on everything bread or, for the very hungry, a traditional English breakfast with a fried egg, beans and blood sausage.
Brunching doesn’t have to derail your commitment to healthy eating—Beatrix offers dishes that are flavorful but light. Quinoa cakes with poached eggs come with a fresh tomato-basil sauce, 10-grain oatmeal gets a boost from dried cherries, and a menu of fresh-squeezed juices includes energizing power greens like kale, plus add-ins like pineapple and mint. After such a virtuous meal, reward yourself with a stop at the cookie bar for a perfectly sinful chocolate chip treat.
When the thought of someone making you bacon and eggs for brunch still isn’t enough to rouse you from bed, don’t worry—Scofflaw serves brunch till 4pm. That means you can down spicy Red Snappers or Dark Matter coffee along with chilaquiles or an egg-topped burger until it’s time for your evening tipple.
When you can’t swing an international vacation, de Quay’s globe-trotting brunch offers a delicious window into other cultures. Chef David de Quay explores Dutch and Indonesian culinary traditions, with dishes like nasi goreng, spicy fried rice mixed with pork belly and veggies and topped with fried eggs; a basket of traditional pastries, such as poppy-seed bread; and a Dutch breakfast, with curls of jenever-marinated salmon gravlax, a soft-boiled egg and pickles.