A word of advice: Don’t come to Brunch N Burgers if you’re anything less than ravenous. Do you know those weekend mornings when you linger in bed so long that you accidentally work up an all-consuming hunger, reduced to feverishly googling “brunch near me”? That’s when you should make the trip to Brunch N Burgers. And when you do, I promise it’ll be worth any pain and suffering you’ve incurred from the wait.
Located on a quiet stretch of Taylor Street in Little Italy, Brunch N Burgers is the first restaurant of chef Erica McGhee, a former chef de cuisine at the Hilton Chicago. McGhee’s menu, as you might have guessed from the name, focuses on brunch (think breakfast sandwiches, shrimp n’ grits, chilaquiles and hash) and burgers loaded with assorted toppings, plus a handful of other sandwich offerings. Visitors order at the counter and take their own seats in the restaurant’s dining room, which is outfitted cozily with an electric fireplace on the wall.
I’d been nursing my appetite all day when I arrived at Brunch N Burgers for lunch on a recent Saturday, having seen photos of the restaurant’s towering burgers online ahead of my visit. Still, I don’t think I’d fully prepared myself for the formidable creation that landed on my table. Called the Southern Draw and served teetering atop a small wooden charcuterie board, this five-inch-tall stunner of a burger stacks two steak patties with slabs of pork belly and slathers them in bubbling pimento cheese, pickled onions, mayo, tomato and a fistful of mixed greens. It was so impressively sized that my dad, who was dining with me, let out a sort of shocked-sounding whistle.
The Southern Draw isn’t the restaurant’s most popular burger (that would be the BNB’s Signature, which comes with jam and a sunny side up egg) but its flavor profile—the rich pork belly, the tangy onions—represents Brunch N Burger’s mastery of salty, sweet and tangy harmony. There’s a particular attention to this balance in each dish, sometimes to surprising effect: A gooey three-cheese mac and cheese, for instance, comes sprinkled with cornbread crumbs and a drizzling of caramel sauce; egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, which you can order with bacon or sausage, get a hefty smear of strawberry preserves. McGhee’s solved the classic brunch conundrum—sweet or savory—by layering both into one flavor mélange, to exquisite effect.
Of course, all those toppings aren’t for the faint of heart, and I’ll warn you that working your way through Brunch N Burgers offerings can be a somewhat intense process. I managed to eat about two thirds of my massive burger before requesting a to-go box, then promptly returned home for a nap. You might be able to save yourself the food coma by opting for some of the menu’s less decadent options, like a sandwich of grilled veggies and cashew pesto, but then again you’re not coming to a place called Brunch N Burgers for health food. Clear out your afternoon and prepare for a blissful post-meal snooze.
The vibe: Casual and friendly, with a mixture of booth and table seating. And although you order at the counter, service is exceedingly warm and attentive—staff brings the food out to your table and checks in throughout the meal.
The food: It’s in the name! FYI: Brunch menu items are only available on weekends.
The drink: BYOB, so feel free to make your own boozy brunch. Coffee, soft drinks and a very sweet iced tea are also on hand.
Time Out tip: Visit over the weekend so you don’t miss out on the brunch menu.