Brunch is a big deal around these parts. Chicagoans take great pride in their Bloody Marys, bottomless mimosas and breakfast pastries. And with so many awesome restaurants slinging breakfast treats, it was tough to narrow down our favorites this year. Take a look at the savory and sweet dishes that caught our attention in 2017.
RECOMMENDED: The 100 best dishes and drinks in Chicago
Of the many beautiful dishes on Elizabeth’s fleeting brunch menu, this nest of noodles may be the fairest of them all. Creamy green pasta is spiked with hunks of tender, buttery crabmeat. It sounds almost too gluttonous for breakfast, but chef Iliana Regan manages to pull delicate, briny seafood flavors to the forefront, making it a gorgeous way to start your day. $45 tasting menu.
We have a definitive ranking of our favorite doughnuts around town, but this one makes us question everything we thought we knew. Rounds and holes are fried to order before they’re tossed in sugar, which means by the time they arrive at your table, they’re still warm and toasty. $3.
There’s not much worth setting an alarm for on the weekend, but this warm, doughy pastry has us waking up early for brunch. Each petite roll is packed with cinnamon swirls and topped with a miso-spiked glaze that lends a funky flavor to the otherwise sweet treat. $4.
Lazing around the patio at this West Loop beer bar is a treat unto itself, but we like to elevate the experience with a gluttonous breakfast skillet. This one is filled with peppers, onions and potatoes and topped with Irish cheddar and house-cured bacon. It’ll take care of Sunday scaries in a jiffy. $13.
Brunch isn’t complete if there aren’t potatoes involved. Served with buttery house-made béarnaise sauce, this massive bowl is filled to to the brim with hunks of perfectly fried potatoes that are light and fluffy inside. $5.
There’s no false advertising here. A bowl of dense yogurt is topped with seasonal fruit, chlorophyll, raw honey, bee pollen, hemp seeds, sprouted buckwheat, amaranth and an assortment of tiny leaves and flowers. Each spoonful is a delightfully weird adventure, making it a feel-good breakfast favorite that lives up to its hyperbolic name. $10.
Attention hash brown connoisseurs: These pristine squares are the pinnacle of fried potatoes. And we ate a lot of fried potatoes this year. $4.
It sounds simple enough, but this breakfast sandwich is epic. Eggs are gussied up with melty aged Provolone and 14-hour smoked wagyu pastrami; it’s all stuffed inside a cloud-like challah roll from Bittersweet Pastry Shop & Cafe. $8.
Crowned with a tube of injectable custard, these Italian doughnuts are a tad gimmicky, sure—but the fluffy, sugar-coated dough is so legit that we don’t mind. Plus, that squeeze bottle makes it easy to cover every nook and cranny in rich, vanilla-bean–dotted custard. $3.50.
Add this dish to your short list of hangover cures. Tender slabs of duck meat mix and mingle with a pile of potatoes, peppers and caramelized onions. A fried egg is the cherry on top, offering just enough yolk to glue it all together. $14.
Uni for breakfast? Yes, you can. A traditional Spanish omelette is stuffed with caramelized onions, potatoes and tetilla cheese and topped with creamy sea urchin gonads and trout roe. It’s a sea-kissed breakfast doozy you gotta try to believe. $14.
Savory fiends, meet your match. This Near North Side newbie is serving the ultimate brunch creation. Layers of warm ham and turkey are blanketed in Swiss and cheddar, topped with an egg and served with a side of jam. $14.
If there’s a better quiche in Chicago, we have yet to find it. Each jiggly, onion-studded slice boasts custardy innards and an impossibly flaky crust. $9.
Pastry is an art form at the Instagram-worthy Lakeview café, but we’re especially fond of this pistachio-studded treat. Each intricate puff pastry spiral is filled with pistachio-flavored pastry cream and caramelized nuts. Bite right in—or peel back layer after layer to make it last. $4.50.
Health food doesn’t have to suck. Case in point: this ice-cold smoothie bowl that’s decorated with strawberries, bananas, blueberries, granola and shredded coconut. It’s sweet, crunchy and packed with flavor. Each spoonful is a reminder that brunch needn't end in a food coma (unless you want it to, of course). $12.
It’s no secret that Gayle Voss makes a damn fine grilled cheese sandwich. Though Loopers usually think of the Block 37 spot when lunchtime rolls around, the breakfast offerings (available all day) are superb. Rise and shine with the help of soft Butterkase cheese, scrambled eggs, pork sausage and a ribbon of maple syrup. It’s breakfast between bread, and we’re all in. $12.
When the savory-sweet debate can’t be resolved, venture to this Wicker Park bakery and grab something to satisfy both cravings. Packed with rich, nutty honey, funky brie and a generous pinch of thyme, this buttery treasure is worth every calorie. $3.40.
Sometimes breakfast calls for a morsel that’s equal parts transportable and delicious. In that case, head straight to Evanston, seek out this cute-as-a-button bakery and ask for the bourbon pecan tart (and a loaf of bread for good measure). Crafted with FEW bourbon, a buttery crust and picture-perfect pecans, this sugary confection evokes memories of Thanksgivings past. $5.25.