Best breakfast in Chicago
This cheerful Logan Square mainstay opens at 9am daily (except on Tuesdays, when it's closed) with an easy-going breakfast menu that includes staples like buttermilk pancakes and the namesake breakfast burrito, which is stuffed with eggs, avocado, onion, green chile, tomato, potato and melty cheddar cheese. Grab a seat at the bar and order a cup of Metric coffee while you consider your options.
With outposts in River North, Streeterville, Fulton Market and Oak Brook, Beatrix is a reliable morning standby for the masses. And because most locations open at 7 or 8am, it's also a great option for early risers. Grab a pastry and coffee from the bakery if you're in a rush, or grab a seat and enjoy heartier dishes like blackberry-topped lemon pancakes, the avocado Benedict or spicy shakshuka. The Power Greens juice—with kale, romaine, celery, pineapple and mint—is just the boost you need to power through the week.
This old-school diner specializes in filling, new-wave classics like loaded avocado toast and chicken fried chicken smothered in chorizo verde gravy. The Wicker Park restaurant opens at 8 or 9am, depending on the day, and is outfitted with counter-style seating that surrounds the perimeter of the space. It's the ideal place to dine solo or with a date (we can't say the same for large groups, which is part of the charm). Kickstart your morning with the Back to Life Cocktail, a mélange of crab, squid and shrimp marinated in citrus and tossed with tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.
Quick thinking is the key to success at this classic cafeteria that opens at 5:30am daily. Once the line reaches the counter, you have only a few seconds to place your order, pick a side, order a drink and pay. For breakfast, we like the generous stack of French toast with a side of poached eggs. There’s always the question of whether to eat the sweet, cakey biscuits with your meal or save them for later; either way, make your choice the first time around. Otherwise, it’s back to the line.
This classic Avondale greasy spoon is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week—and lucky for you, the breakfast menu is served all day long. Snag a seat at the counter and choose from no-bullshit favorites like French toast, an egg sandwich and the Jailhouse Special (two eggs, bologna, hashbrowns and toast). Plus, you really can't beat the prices if you're dining on a budget; nothing on the breakfast menu will set you back more than $10.
At this adorable, sunny, daytime-only café, health food is tasty enough to eat. The owners are committed to organics and offer meat-free options, but they’re okay with a little cheese, butter and sugar every now and then. Case in point: thick, dense blueberry pancakes and a heaping breakfast sandwich of fried egg, Gorgonzola, applewood-smoked bacon and fresh thyme. If that’s too good and gooey for you health nuts, there’s always the Vegan Epiphany, an organic tofu scramble that just may live up to its name.
Hotel restaurants are usually a reliable option for morning folks, and this Wicker Park spot doesn't disappoint. On weekdays, brunch starts at 7am, with an expansive menu of quickies (the breakfast sandwich and lemon-pistachio bread) as well as dishes you'll want to sit and savor (like the decadent duck hash, which is studded with potatoes, red peppers, onions and egg). When it's time to head to work, the Blue Line is just a block away.
At Palace Grill in the West Loop, the options are plentiful. Go savory with omelettes, skillets and sandwiches, or embrace the sugar rush with French toast, waffles and pancakes. This classic Chicago diner opens at 6am most days (7am on Sunday), and the best seats in the house ride the main counter, where cooks flip eggs and toss hashbrowns all day.
You don't have to be a member to grab breakfast at this Soho House restaurant, where the doors open bright and early at 7am (8am on Sunday). For a light start, order the warm coconut pudding or one of five cold-pressed juices in flavors like citrus and ginger. Avocado toast fanatics must try the version here, which is dressed up with fresh basil, a squeeze of lemon juice, chili flakes and a molten egg topper.
The menu at this darling Logan Square eatery changes as often as we blink, but newbies should spring for the quiche, the restaurant's lone morning mainstay. Each slice is impossibly fluffy and as light as air, showing off the kitchen's prowess on the baking front. The rest of the menu is designed to showcase the freshest produce of the season, utilizing ingredients like sungold tomatoes, shishito peppers and fennel. Make note: Cellar Door opens at 8am Wednesday through Sunday and is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
We'll never tire of the breakfast sandwich at this French-inspired Humboldt Park café. Diners get to choose two items from the a la carte menu (think smoked brisket, seared foie gras, soft shell crab and caviar) to pair with an egg and cheese on country white bread or an English muffin. The possibilities are endlessly tasty. Grab-and-go visitors won't be disappointed in the fresh-made cinnamon rolls, croissants and biscuits. The party starts at 7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits poses some downright tough dilemmas: Pie or biscuits? Key lime or mint-chocolate? Candied bacon or braised greens? The good news is, if you visit often enough, you'll be able to try it all. Other Chicagoans know this, too, as evidenced by the line that often stretches out the front door on warm summer days. Swing by for a cup of joe and buttery baked goods starting at 7am Monday through Friday and 9am Saturday and Sunday.
Slinging breakfast since 1923, Lou Mitchell's is a bonafide Chicago institution. The Loop restaurant opens at 6am on weekdays with a lineup of morning favorites like egg sandos, pancakes, waffles, omelettes and fresh-squeezed juice—and that's just scratching the surface. On weekends, the line often snakes out the front door, so prepare to wait it out.
Ann Sather is not the best dinner, lunch or breakfast in town. It may not even be the best diner food. But that doesn’t matter, because Ann Sather has the sweetest cinnamon rolls in the Midwest. If you must, you can order some “real” food—crab cakes Benedict for brunch won’t disappoint, and neither will Swedish specialties, such as the roasted duck with lingonberry glaze. But let’s get real: You’re only after those fluffy cinnamon rolls, which arrive too big for the plate and submerged under warm icing. Luckily for you, they come with almost every order.