For a dish that allegedly got its start as a hangover cure some 70 years ago at New York’s Waldorf Hotel—well, that’s one of the stories—eggs Benedict sure has come a long way. These days, this dish comprised of English muffins topped with poached eggs, ham and hollandaise is fodder for reinvention by chefs everywhere, including at some of the best Chicago restaurants. From a Moroccan version at one of the fanciest downtown Chicago hotels to a surprising version at one of our favorite Korean restaurants, these are the eggs Benedict worth getting out of bed for—hangover not required.
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Best eggs Benedict in Chicago
While we love a clever, tricked-out dish as much as the next food-obsessed person, there’s something to be said for the classics—that is, when done right. This Lincoln Park restaurant’s all-white beach house–inspired vibe, while laid on thick, is the perfect setting for its traditional eggs Benedict, which hits all the right notes. The English muffins are made in-house daily, the hollandaise has the perfect balance of acid from lemon and heat from Tabasco, and the poached eggs only need a gentle nudge to release their runny yolk.
To get inspiration for its take on eggs Benedict for its new Sunday brunch, the Lincoln Park French restaurant didn’t have to look far. Its classic beef bourguignon, a staple on its dinner menu for years, takes the leading role, with tender pearl onions and roasted carrots in the mix. The housemade English muffins have enough heft to hold their own against the hearty wine-based sauce, as well as the hollandaise and runny yolks from the poached eggs. While the dish is now off the menu for spring, it'll be back next winter, and we’d be willing to try any new Benedict this spot puts out.
The ongoing brunch quandary of whether to go sweet or savory is solved with chef Greg Bastien’s eggs Benedict at this Ukrainian Village café. Two pieces of Belgian-style waffle (which has earned a well-deserved cult following on its own), are topped with creamed kale and poached eggs. On the side, thick pieces of smoky Nueske’s bacon are more akin to pork belly, thanks to a three-hour braise in stock. A drizzle of maple syrup ties it all together. Bastien originally thought he’d change up his Benedict every couple of months, but its devoted fans won’t let him.
The base consists of crumpets, and they're topped with tender slices of pork belly and delicate poached eggs. This version manages to be light, thanks to lots of pickles and tangy Dijon hollandaise, which means you can get it as a side dish to share with your brunch date.
To make sure his eggs Benedict would be “fun, interesting and Asian,” chef Bill Kim and his sous chefs spent weeks tweaking every component of the dish before putting it on the West Loop restaurant’s Sunday-only brunch menu. That extra work paid off—toasted Chinese buns made in-house sub in for the muffin, slices of tea-smoked duck breast replace the ham and dollops of earthy Thai curry stand in for hollandaise. Ho-hum poached eggs get an upgrade too, with a dip in tempura batter followed by a visit to the deep fryer.
Chef Matt Troost may think he created “a simple eggs Benedict,” but one bite of his version tells a different story. Warm housemade black pepper biscuits set for the tone for what’s layered on top. Pan-fried mortadella from Creminelli—“I have a sick love for mortadella,” admits Troost—brings in notes of garlic and nutmeg, while the light orange hollandaise, actually a choron sauce with some cayenne pepper, adds some heat. The poached eggs come courtesy of Slagel Farms. And that mound of arugula tossed with lemon juice and olive oil isn’t just window-dressing; it’s a great foil to the richness of the dish.
While most chefs have little love for the first meal of the day, it’s a different story for Tim Graham, who jumped at the chance to create the breakfast and brunch menus at Travelle. “There’s a lot of fun stuff I’ve had stored up in my memory banks that never had an outlet before,” he says. Perhaps that explains why you’ll find five different eggs Benedict here. While the lobster one definitely fits in with the swanky hotel restaurant it’s served in, we’re partial to the Moroccan with its subtly spicy merguez patty (lamb sausage), kicky piquillo sauce and mint chiffonade. Graham credits Wolfermann’s English muffins as his “secret weapon,” but he’s just being modest.
What do you do with 100 pounds of leftover cooked ham hocks? If you’re chef Jared Wentworth, you take those flavorful bits of meat, a by-product of a consommé on the Pilsen restaurant’s dinner menu, and use it for a riff on eggs Benedict. A thick slice of rye bread—“I was in Reuben mood,” says Wentworth of his choice of bread—serves as the base. Two perfectly poached eggs and a creamy Welsh rarebit sauce made with four-year-old cheddar and the restaurant’s pilsner, a collaboration with Moody Tongue, finish the dish.