Egg Tart at Fat Rice.
Eggs and pancakes are the workhorses of brunch—they're the main event, and a brunch's success depends on them. But while most side dishes, like bacon, are just there to complement the rest of the meal, these pastries set themselves apart. These pastries—slivers of coffee cake, warm doughnuts, savory scones—are small enough to have in addition to a big entree, but they're packed with flavor, perfectly textured and so delicious we've remembered them long after brunch was over. Here are our picks for the 12 best brunch pastries in the city.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to brunch in Chicago
Our favorite brunch pastries
At brunch I often debate whether to get something sweet or savory (it's nice that omelettes vs. pancakes is my biggest concern on the weekend), so the idea of pretzel bread pudding is pretty appealing. Though still more sweet than savory, the bread pudding is a good compromise thanks to a salty pretzel topped with maple whipped cream and candied bacon.—Erin Delahanty
I've never been to New Orleans, but if the beignets at Carriage House are any indication of what I can find in NOLA, then I need to book a flight, stat. Served warm and dusted with powdered sugar, the beignets practically melt in your mouth. As if that wasn't a sweet enough start to the morning, they are served with a side of espresso butterscotch. The beignets don't need the sauce, but it sure doesn't hurt.—ED
Whether it's your main course or a side for the table, the $8 basket of pastries is a steal. There's a buttery concha, topped with streusel; a crunchy, carmelized oreja, similar to a French palmier; huachibola, a cream cheese–filled roll with sprinkles; and gordita de piloncillo, a corn-masa doughnut.—AC
You won't go wrong with any of Amanda Rockman's morning pastries, but the rotating coffee cake (on my visit, chestnut, now blueberry) is simple but terrific. It has a tender crumb and a layer of filling running through it. It's even better with a tiny drizzle of honey, served on the side.—AC
My brunch date wanted the doughnut, but I insisted we get the coffee cake. It wasn't a mistake: The coffee cake is light as air, with rich cinnamon flavor and sweet topping. We later sampled the doughnut after we traded some of our bacon with our neighbors (one benefit to communal tables!), but the coffee cake was the clear favorite.—AC