Best brunch in Chicago
Lula Cafe isn’t a vegetarian restaurant, but with dishes like a tofu-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 fan-favorite burrito before work. On weekends you’ll likely wait (Lula doesn't take brunch reservations), but the house-made pastries, gingerbread French toast and a gin Bloody Mary are worth the trouble.
If there is a lovelier place to grab brunch in all of Chicago, we have yet to find it. Cellar Door Provisions is so tiny that if you blink, you might just miss it. We recommend keeping your eyes wide open so that you can taste the deliciously delicate treats coming out of the kitchen. The menu changes daily, but expect loads of super seasonal ingredients, soul-warming preparations and some of the most daring fare in the city.
Brunch at this Logan Square mainstay is a rite of passage for Chicagoans and sophisticated out-of-towners alike, and you'll understand why when you see the menu. Hiding amongst cheffy bites like the avocado toast with smoked salmon ricotta is the PBR Breakfast: two eggs, bacon or house-made sausage, house potatoes and a can of ice-cold PBR. If you still have room after plowing through that plate, head next door to OSB, Longman's gourmet doughnut concept that's only open on the weekends.
This Southern-inspired Mexican spot has all the trappings of a classic diner with a seriously upgraded all-day menu that includes hangover-curing dishes like the Back to Life cocktail, with citrus- and habanero-marinated crab, squid and shrimp swimming in tomatoes, avocado and cilantro. The avocado toast—made fancy with queso fresco, tomatoes, red onion and fresno vinaigrette—is another crowd pleaser for brunch devotees.
Shake up your weekend routine at this West Town favorite, which is open for brunch on Sundays only (so plan your trip accordingly). Indulge in heartier dishes like the ricotta brick toast and the pork belly Benedict, or hit the reset button with the aptly named Bowl of Awesome—creamy yogurt topped with all kinds of healthy goodies including raw honey, bee pollen, hemp seeds and seasonal fruit.
This no-frills Humboldt Park café is serious about its French-inspired eats, and brunch is the best time to dabble in a little bit of everything. We recommend ordering from the a la carte menu, where you can piece together a well-rounded spread of caviar toast, sauteed calf brains, griddle cakes and seared foie gras. If you're looking for something of the Americana variety, there's a customizable breakfast sandwich on the menu, too. Do save room for the expertly crafted pastries or take a few to go for later.
At this adorable, sunny, daytime-only café, health food is tasty enough to eat. The owners are committed to organics and offer meat-free options, but they’re okay with a little cheese, butter and sugar every now and then. Case in point: thick, dense breakfast bread pudding and a heaping breakfast sandwich with fried egg, Gorgonzola, applewood-smoked bacon and fresh thyme. If that’s too good and gooey for you health nuts, there’s always the Vegan Epiphany, an organic tofu scramble that just may live up to its name.
Fair warning: Brunch at this West Loop spot isn't a low-calorie affair. Start with the beverage flight—a tasting of sumac-infused aperol, a mimosa and a bloody mary—before digging into the breakfast spaghetti or cinnamon streusel coffee cake. Promote yourself to hero status when you order the maple-braised bacon for the table to share.
The first-ever Michelin-starred brewpub knows just as much about curing your hangover as it does about giving you one. Available on Saturdays and Sundays, the brunch menu skews savory with walleye crudo, shrimp and heirloom corn grits, chicken tempura and lamb BLT. Round out your order with a Danish filled with pistachio praline cream and morello cherries.
Paul Fehribach's exploration of Southern culinary history draws on age-old recipes to tell the story of Southern cuisine. For an introductory course, drop by the Andersonville stalwart for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, when the smell of fresh-baked cornbread muffins and fried chicken wafts from the kitchen. The menu is filled with hits, but we're particularly fond of the Biscuit Art section, which includes four biscuit sandwiches that are hearty enough to feed a small family. You can't go wrong with the sweet and spicy chicken option: It's adorned with zesty pickles and a perfect sunny-side up egg. You're going to need a fork and a knife for this one.
Judging by its name, you might assume that this spot is a Cali import, but Left Coast is a Chicago original that pushes the boundaries on what healthy food should be. Skip your usual coma-inducing brunch routine for fresh, tasty options like the Montecito hash—two poached eggs atop a bed of tender garnet yams, red bell pepper, kale, spinach, queso fresco and lemon yogurt—or buckwheat pancakes topped with seasonal fruit, yogurt and granola. With locations in River North and Lakeview, it's easy to eat well every day of the week.
Fact: Chef Stephanie Izard makes a mean brunch. Proof: the all-day breakfast menu at West Loop mainstay Little Goat Diner. Channel your inner 5-year-old when you tuck into dark chocolate chip crunch pancakes topped with chocolate malt butter or the Fat Elvis waffles, which are layered with banana, peanut butter-flavored butter and bacon maple syrup.
Come for the breathtaking views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, stay for the brunch shareables at this rooftop escape at the Chicago Athletic Association. Dishes like the buttermilk pancakes, lox and bagels and cast-iron chilaquiles can be ordered in larger portions to accommodate hungry groups. Solo diners and picky eaters have plenty to choose from, too, with a breakfast burrito and avocado toast on the docket.
Brunch comes with a German accent at Funkenhausen, chef Mark Steuer's Southern-influenced West Town restaurant. Lean into it with the hot schnitz sandwich, which is served on white bread and topped with dill ranch and zucchini pickles and served with crispy breakfast potatoes. Tack on Mimosa service: 6-ounce mimosas are $6 each, and your server will keep 'em coming until you say stop.
This cute-as-a-button restaurant has a secret weapon: a master baker from France. Taste the skill for yourself when you order flaky croissants stuffed with chocolate, custard-filled canelé, craggly baguettes and delicate macarons. If you've got time to stay a while, settle in for brunch favorites like the purple grits with cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and poached eggs, or the ancient grain porridge, which is topped with a medley of seasonal fruit. The bar serves twists on classic cocktails, including a rosemary greyhound and a cardamom old fashioned.
A weekend afternoon in Pilsen is best kickstarted with a visit to Michelin-starred Dusek's. (Don't let the prestige fool you—this Pilsen eatery is as humble as they come.) For brunch, there's a lot to choose from: Ricotta beignets or a sticky bun? Heirloom tomato quiche or hot chicken and waffles? A juicy Lucy burger or the Thai sausage sandwich? Take a deep breath and mull it over with a Beermosa in hand.
When calories don't count (every Sunday), book it to Bridgeport for hearty English-influenced eats at Pleasant House Pub. Craving something savory? Opt for the Royal English Breakfast, a fried egg, sausage, black pudding, baked beans, grilled tomato, roasted mushrooms and toast. Or cure your sweet tooth with the challah French toast, which is soaked in custard and adorned with seasonal fruit, maple syrup and chantilly cream.
Depending on how you look at it, Daley’s Restaurant has been around since 1892 or 1937 (the first, the original opening date; the second, the current incarnation). Either way, it’s one of the oldest restaurants in the city. But there’s no time for this homey diner to dwell on the past—the space bustles with a mix of Woodlawn locals and U. of C. students, especially in the mornings, when they gather for the ethereal Belgian waffles (offered with a side of juicy chicken wings), hearty Denver omelettes and warm, buttery biscuits.
At this Wrigleyville restaurant from Matthias Merges, bourbon and brunch are the ultimate pairing. The hangover-curing White Whiskey Bloody Mary—with grated horseradish and a citrus shrub back—is a nice way to prep your belly for the sweet and savory plates on offer. Go all in with the bourbon-cured salmon toast or take a lighter approach with the butter lettuce salad, which is topped with Castelvetrano olives, manchego, garlic streusel and oregano cream. An order of Crackerjack beignets for the table are a must.
Chef and owner Darnell Reed taps into his grandmother Luella's southern roots and the recipes he learned as a child with this Southern restaurant. On the brunch front, that translates to soul-soothing dishes like sweet potato pancakes with allspice butter, Nashville hot chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits and kale ambrosia. Psst: Luella's is BYOB, so don't forget to bring some bubbly for mimosa-making purposes.
Live large and head to Bridgeport for Sunday brunch at chef Kevin Hickey's neighborhood spot. The Duck Inn specializes in all things savory with menu items like chiliquelles with scallion crema, duck confit hash and fried cheese curds served with Bloody Mary ketchup. If you must, toss in a side of beignets or a sticky bun to satisfy your sweet tooth. There's a short list of brunch cocktails to choose from, too—from mimosas and Bloody Marys to The Devil's Tongue, a mix of cachaça, blackberry liqueur, habanero shrub, lime and ginger beer.
Mornings are an otherworldly experience at this trendy West Town hideaway from the folks behind Celeste. If you can, nab a spot toward the front of the restaurant, where sunlight pours in from the atrium-style ceiling and lush greenery fills the room. The morning menu is a global affair with dishes like smoked baba ganoush, shakshuka with duck eggs and Spanish tortilla with uni.
Brunch at Soho House? While it sounds uber exclusive, locals know that the hotel's lobby is open to the public and serves fantastic, affordable brunch bites. Grab a seat at a long communal table or settle into a cozy nook and order a round of breakfast-friendly cocktail. From there, you'll peruse menu options like house-made pastries, basil-studded avocado toast, breakfast pizza and house granola with Greek yogurt and berries. Bring your laptop and plug in or get lost a copy of the day's paper, which are scattered throughout the space.
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.
If you prefer your brunch with a side of scene, there's no better spot than 3 Arts Club Cafe inside Restoration Hardware in the Gold Coast. The tree-filled, glass-topped space is decked out in chandeliers, expensive furniture (of course) and an epic fountain. Be prepared to wait it out before you're able to get your hands on proper bites like a lobster roll, toast and jam, granola and a pristine scramble. A glass of champagne makes the perfect accessory here.
Quick thinking is the key to success at this classic cafeteria: Once the line reaches the counter, you have only a few seconds to place your order, pick a side, order a drink and pay. For breakfast, we like the generous stack of French toast with a side of poached eggs. There’s always the question of whether to eat the sweet, cakey biscuits with your meal or save them for dessert; either way, make your choice the first time around. Otherwise, it’s back to the line.
If you crave lunch by the time you make it to brunch, Cafe Robey has you covered with a stacked fried chicken sandwich, seared yellowfin tuna, a wagyu hamburger and decadent chocolate chip cookies. Don't worry: You can still get Colectivo coffee and a side of bacon if you're a morning person.
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 and biscuits. 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.