Chicago Brunch
Restaurants Worth Waking Up For

A good brunch can serve many functions: an end of the week catch-up session with friends, a greasy meal to soak up the dregs of a hangover, or an excuse to enjoy outdoor dining during daylight hours. Chicago is never short of great places to enjoy the hybrid meal, and many of those listed here are so good, they've hatched multiple locations.
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Logan Square: Cult-Status Cafe

Chef Jason Hammel’s rotating brunch menus borrow heavily from their dinnertime counterparts, featuring meats normally found on prime-time plates. In one week, smoked duck bulked up an omelet with Illinois mushrooms, and veal breast filled out a tostada with egg and chile negro.

Pilsen: Farm-to-Table Refined

The Chicago Tribune named Nightwood the Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year in 2011, praising the eatery as “the best example of a very welcome trend in Chicago dining—casual enjoyment”. Jason Vincent, 2012’s Grand Cochon champion, builds each Sunday’s brunch menu with ingredients from nearby markets, and might offer bacon-butterscotch donuts or chicken pot pie.

Wicker Park: House-Made Granola

Whether keeping warm on the sunny patio or around the dining room’s fireplace, patrons dig into hearty dishes such as casserole-style huevos rancheros. The house-made granola is so in-demand, they started selling all six flavors at the counter and at shops around the city.

West Loop: The Breakfast Queen

"Breakfast Queen" may seem a boastful nickname, but Ina Pinkney’s extensive resume more than qualifies her as the reigning monarch of the morning meal. She’s concocted recipes for everyone from The World Book Encyclopedia to Quaker Oats, and rules her own dining room with signature menu items such as veggie hash with yams, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms.

Logan Square: Avant Garde Eggs

The dining room is striking: grape-green placemats and Plexiglass chairs punctuate an otherwise monochromatic space aglow with damask sconces. If the décor doesn’t win you over, the food will—former Charlie Trotter’s chef Jeffrey Mauro whips up blueberry pancakes so seductive, the recipe was featured in an issue of Details.

The first person to greet visitors at the Twisted Spoke isn’t a host or waiter, but a grinning skeleton mounted atop a motorcycle. The restaurant’s ghoulish mascot perches above the entrance, silently welcoming guests to an eatery and bar that celebrates biker culture as well as hearty diner food. Whether seated amongst wood-paneled walls adorned with antique bike parts or enjoying the sunshine on …

North Park: Swedish Brunch

Larry Anderson and Patty Rasmussen's love fed on food. After discovering their mutual love of French bistros and their common Scandinavian heritage, the two became a couple, and the couple became owners of Tre Kronor. The restaurant's Swedish delicacies—pancakes with lingonberry, an Oslo omelet with smoked Norwegian salmon—were enough to attract the attention of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,

Lakeview: More Than Just Cupcakes

Quirky, gourmet ingredients add character to Southport Grocery’s menu items: witness the melon and pulped avocado that sweeten the BLT and the maple-mustard syrup that glazes french toast with smoked ham. Bell’s Oberon flavors a beermosa, and red wine and coke blend to create a grown-up Dr. Pepper.

Ukrainian Village: BYOB Open till 2 a.m.

As Time Out’s Julia Kramer said, “If there were ever a…restaurant I could imagine treating like my second home, it’s Bite.” Patrons feel the same once they realize they can bring their own alcohol and ask chef Rodney Staton (a Longman & Eagle alum) to swap out eggs for tofu in dishes such as a breakfast taco with black beans and pepper jack.

Lakeview: Pre-Matinee Meal

Located an egg’s throw from Mercury Theater and the Music Box, Deleece produces brunches with multiple acts: appetizers such as cinnamon-caramel beignets set the scene, and breakfast pasta with goat cheese and scrambled eggs steal the show before diners take their curtain call with a final glass of bottomless mimosa.

Roscoe Village: Hangover Heaven

According to CLTV, “if you’re gonna go for a hangover brunch, the one spot you need to go is Kitsch’n”. As patrons shake off last night’s booze binge with chilaquiles (which the menu bills as the “ultimate hangover cure”), they wax nostalgic over vintage pop-culture décor the owner culled from his parents’ basement and acquired while thrifting with his wife.

Evanston: Loaded Egg Sandwiches

If you’re in the mood for a quiet brunch, don’t come here. Since 1965, the crowds have piled into this diner, where the kitchen bustles with cooks who can prepare sandwiches in less than three minutes. The most popular item is the Loretta sandwich—grilled bacon, onions, and peppers encased in fresh french bread—which pairs well with cheesy hash browns.

Ravenswood: Banana-Spiked French Toast

Weekend brunch often means waiting in line, but it rarely involves drinking free Julius Meinl coffee while you do. As patrons sip on their complimentary cup, they peruse a menu that changes weekly, rotating in spicy chilaquiles alongside perennial favorites such as banana-spiked french toast with rum-caramel sauce.

West Loop: Farmer’s Breakfast

Yes, it’s a burger bar. But Grange Hall also boasts a farmer’s breakfast on the weekends, with meals that range from the not-so-simple Simple Man (two eggs, rosemary-fried potatoes, and apple turkey-sausage patties) to, of course, a grass-fed beef burger with bacon and an egg on cinnamon-raisin rench toast.

South Loop: Waffles as Delicacy

Infused with unexpected flavors, Waffles’ waffles take on both sweet and savory variations. Strawberry compote and candied walnuts sweeten a red-velvet version, and coffee-braised short ribs and scallions pile on a waffle made with 4-year-aged cheddar. Beyond the restaurant’s namesake, the menu also saves room for omelets and sandwiches.

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