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  1. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha WilliamsCinnamon roll at The Bristol.
  2. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha WilliamsBeignets at Carriage House.
  3. Photograph: Arthur Mullen
    Photograph: Arthur MullenMexican pastry basket at Frontera.
  4. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha WilliamsChurros at GT Fish & Oyster
  5. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha Williams

    Egg Tart at Fat Rice.

  6. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha WilliamsKingsbury Street Cafe
  7. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha WilliamsVanilla malt coffee cake at Lula Café.
  8. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha WilliamsCoffee cake at Nico Osteria.
  9. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha WilliamsCoffee cake at The Publican.
  10. Photograph: Martha Williams
    Photograph: Martha WilliamsCronut at Table 52
  11. Sweet potato doughnuts at Yusho.

Chicago's 12 best brunch pastries

When you need a small sweet during brunch, Chicago restaurants serve up coffee cakes, churros, cinnamon rolls and more

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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

Pretzel bread pudding at Ada St.
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • River West/West Town
  • price 2 of 4

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

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  • Restaurants
  • Creole
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

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

  • Restaurants
  • South Asian
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

I didn't expect the standout item at the Macanese restaurant's new brunch to be two tiny tarts. But the lightly sweet custard, presented in a pastry shell, is so good, everyone should get their own order.—AC

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

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

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

While I love oysters, I'm thankful GT Fish & Oyster's brunch isn't just seafood-focused. The brunch menu includes an everything bagel–inspired monkey bread and these textbook-perfect churros, which come with a dish of orange cream cheese sauce on the side.—AC

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Gold Coast
  • price 3 of 4

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

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

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

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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Rush & Division
  • price 3 of 4

Cronuts don't really fit with the Southern menu at Table Fifty-Two, but I'm not complaining. The pastry, which is served warm, changes fillings regularly, but my strawberry and lemon curd–filled pastry was so good, I'd try a cronut in any flavor.—AC

Sweet potato doughnuts at Yusho
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Avondale
  • price 3 of 4

End your Sunday noodle brunch with these beauties—they're perfectly crisp and flavorful on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside.—Martha Williams

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