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).
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.