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Photograph: John Khuu

The 100 best dishes in Chicago 2016: Breakfast and brunch

Get your morning off to a great start with our picks for the best breakfast and brunch dishes of the year

By Elizabeth Atkinson

They say it's the most important meal of the day, so you should make it a great one. We picked the very best breakfast and brunch dishes we had this year. From fantastic biscuits to killer breakfast pastries, these Chicago restaurants are putting out some great dishes. These are our favorites from 2016 (in no particular order).

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best dishes and drinks in Chicago

Photograph: John Khuu

Buttermilk pancakes at Luella's Southern Kitchen

Restaurants Soul and southern American Lincoln Square

Luella’s has some of the fluffiest pancakes in town, thanks to chef Darnell Reed. On their own, they have a hint of salt from fleur de sel, and there’s thick maple syrup on the side to add as you please. We drenched ours and covered them with whipped butter. $10.

Chicago Bun at Fat Rice Bakery
Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron

Chicago bun at Fat Rice Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Logan Square

Always wanted to eat a Chicago dog for breakfast? Fat Rice has answered your call. The Chicago bun is shaped like a flower, with petals being pieces of hot dog (yep, that’s where we’re going), covered in poppy seeds, slices of tomato, relish, onions and a hot pepper. $4.50.

Photograph: John Khuu

Bolinhos de chuva at La Sirena Clandestina

Restaurants Latin American West Loop

These tiny doughnuts are the perfect way to start out brunch at La Sirena Clandestina. They’re pillowy and soft, but be warned: they land at the table hot, so give them a second to cool off if you can resist. Dip them into the delicious coffee anglaise they’re served with for a perfect pairing. $8.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Biscuits and gravy at Roister

Restaurants Contemporary American West Loop

The biscuits and gravy at Roister arrive at your table in a ridiculously hot cast-iron bowl, filled with hearth-roasted eggs, green tomato ragout and swiss cheese on top of fluffy biscuits. (Crack the yolk in the eggs quickly so they don’t sizzle until they’re solid.) The tang from the ragout adds an acidic quality you wouldn’t normally find in biscuits and gravy, which suits us perfectly. $15.

Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

Whiskey glazed doughnut at Elizabeth Restaurant

Restaurants Contemporary American Lincoln Square

Iliana Regan’s flagship restaurant has started serving brunch and the menu includes these doughnuts—perfectly yeasty with a sweet glaze that has the tiniest whiskey kick—that you may remember from her much-loved Bunny. We’d happily eat these every day. $45 and up for tasting menu.

Photograph: John Khuu

Eggs Benedict at Johnny’s Grill

Restaurants American Logan Square

The burger and the house-made Pop Tart get plenty of love at Johnny’s Grill, but other dishes shine too. For the Benedict, you get to choose among cured salmon, Irish back bacon or avocado (we picked the bacon, duh) to combine with your English muffin, poached eggs and hollandaise. $11.

Photograph: Jessica Lynn Capron

Apple cream cheese Danish at GreenRiver

Bars Cocktail bars Streeterville

Breakfast pastries are one of the best things about the most important meal of the day—it’s like a little side dessert to your savory meal that you don’t have to feel guilty for. The apple cream cheese Danish at GreenRiver is perfect for that. It’s large enough to share, with flaky crust, a creamy middle and a sweet but tart raspberry jam. No longer available.

dat donut, nick murway
Photograph: Nick Murway

Strawberry glazed doughnut at Dat Donut

Restaurants Bakeries Chatham

The jumbo doughnuts get all of the attention at Dat, coming in glazed and chocolate varieties. And while they’re all delicious, we like a bit of pizzazz with our guilty pleasures. The pink strawberry topping has us thinking “Damn, I would have ordered this bubblegum pink doughnut as a kid,” but let your inhibitions fly to the wind—because this yeast doughnut’s pink frosting tastes like a glaze made of real strawberries. $1.05.

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Cheddar biscuit at Café Marie-Jeanne

Restaurants Cafés Humboldt Park

You can get this monster biscuit, which is marbled with cheese throughout, from the pastry counter—take one to go with you as you stroll through Humboldt Park. We ate ours cold, but you could warm it up and try it with a fork for a different, meltier experience. Either way, this cheese and bread conglomeration is a sight to behold, and a taste to be tried. $4.

Photograph: John Khuu

Chicken and waffles at Mad Social

Restaurants American West Loop

Be prepared for leftovers—this dish is huge. It comes on a bigger-than- your-face churro waffle, crispy and packed with sugar and cinnamon, which is topped with a crunchy chicken breast Milanese and pork belly. The pork belly has this dish teetering on “too rich,” but not when you share: Take turns dipping each bite into hot sauce and maple syrup and you’ll be happy. $21.


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