Brunch. There’s just something about the word that inspires coziness…and calories. Whatever. I’m totally on board.
And I’m not the only one. Weekend brunching has become a contact sport throughout Chicago and the North Shore. All-you-can-eat brunch buffet? A thing of the past. SO 10 years ago. This is a brand-new list, people! (See last year’s list here.)
These restaurants are doing it right: season-driven, house-made goodies that you will crave at all hours. But with a mimosa in your hand and a line out the door, noon on a Sunday sounds about right.
This West Loop star keeps its creative mojo going with Breakfast Paella (with chicken confit, snail boudin, eggs, and tangerine aioli) and Baked Eggs (with roasted peppers, white beans, guanciale, feta and crisp pita). Sip a Harissa Bloody Mary (complete with carrot-shallot pickle) while nibbling a chorizo-stuffed date wrapped in bacon. Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 615 W. Randolph, 312-377-2002
Oooooooh, the Hush Puppies here, served with pimento aioli…perfection. You can never go wrong with Shrimp and Grits, or the Fried Green Tomatoes. This is southern food done absolutely right, especially if it’s accompanied by a big old glass of sweet tea, or for the hard-core bruncher, a Carriage House Red Eye (aged rum, cold-press coffee and crème de cacao). Brunch served Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 1700 W. Division St., 773-384-9700
This Pilsen newcomer is hot, hot, hot. Whether you’re in the mood for Oyster Hash, a Choucroute Latke (with house garlic sausage…don’t tell your bubbe), or the Marjoram French Toast with coffee crumble, limoncello glaze and homemade blackberry jam, you know you are eating in the moment. They take their “Brunch Libations” seriously here. Opt for the Brunch Punch (gin, orange, lime, clove and sparkling wine) or one of their soon-to-be-famous “Beermosas.” Open for Brunch at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. 1227 W. 18th St., 312-526-3851
Filled with do-not-miss items like Chai Custard-Filled Donuts, Green Eggs & Ham (over-easy eggs cooked in ramp butter with prosciutto and Wisconsin gruyere sauce on grilled sourdough), Spring Lamb Meatball Grinder and house-made Cherry-Almond Granola, there is no shortage of yummy at this hipster hangout. Plus, you can sit out on their covered porch. Ah, summer. Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 2119 S. Halsted St., 312-526-3385
I discovered them first at Baconfest, where they served their unbelievable Gnocchi Tots. But Cinnamon Roll Pancakes, Pork-Belly Hash and Chicken N Waffles (with sesame waffles and sriracha, BTW) are also worth the drive to Old Town. Wash it down with a Breakfast Martini (gin, orange marmalade, Cointreau and lemon) and be very pleased with yourself. Brunch served Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. 1209 N. Wells St., 312-854-2970
Lettuce Entertain You hits it out of the park—again—with this Lincoln Park stunner. Feel vaguely healthy while chomping your Spinach and Kale Omelette with Wisconsin cheddar, or the Roasted Vegetable Hash with poached eggs and tarragon aioli. Drink an Oatmeal Smoothie, “zero-proof cocktail” or go big with a Sunrise Punch. Open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. 1954 N. Halsted St., 773-634-4100
If you don’t love Gale Gand’s Ricotta Doughnuts, you need immediate help—or at least a Dark Chocolate Belgian Waffle with cherries jubilee and brown sugar/sour cream drizzle. Savory more your style? The Chilaquiles, Breakfast Shepherd’s Pie or a decadent Poutine Burger should float your boat. Homemade sodas or a Gin Blossom will complete the picture. Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 3819 N. Broadway, 773-868-9866
Southern classics abound at this downtown Evanston joint. Eggs Sardou, Country Steak ‘n’ Eggs, Dixie Hash with Chicken and the Jambalaya Omelet are all solid offerings. Toss on a few Beignets and order a Louisiana Lemonade (hint: it’s boozy!) and you’re good to go. Open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 825 Church St., 847-733-9030
Hearty brunch foods, locally sourced, are the play here. The Midwestern Fried Rice (with a sunnyside-up farm egg, braised pork shoulder, 10-bean blend, kale and root veggies) is a case in point. The Farmer’s Breakfast (scrambled farm eggs with wilted kale, scallions, wild mushrooms and sharp cheddar; spicy breakfast potatoes, toast and bacon) is another. I love their Hopped Waffles, and the Farmhouse Bloody Mary sports a McClure pickle, beef jerky and cheese curds. Come on, now! Brunch served on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 703 Church St., 847-492-9700
The tiny skillet with a homemade, hot-from-the-oven Cinnamon Roll is reason enough for a visit. But in this sunny, light-filled room, everything is yummy. Like the Lemon and Ricotta Hotcakes with lemon curd and fresh berries, or the Guildhall Eggs Benedict with Nueske’s Canadian bacon, creamed spinach, roasted tomato and Hollandaise. But my fave was the Mexican Chorizo and Hominy Hash with salsa verde, fried eggs and picked onions. The Piccola Pesca Bellini (peach puree, prosecco and organic honey) is a winner. Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 694 Vernon Ave., 847-835-8100
Chilaquiles, Huevos a la Mexicana, and Huevos Rancheros are all muy delicioso at this Mexican standout. Breakfast Burritos or the Ole Omelette (with chorizo sausage, jalapeño, onions and cheese) are also yummy, as is the Fajita Skillet with hash browns and eggs. Try a Horchata (a rice drink) or Jamaica (made from hibiscus flowers) to drink. Sunday brunch served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2014 First St., 847-433-7400
Let a Pomegranate Sunrise (tequila, Pama liqueur, OJ and pineapple juice) fuel your Sunday, along with Parker House Griddle Cakes (with candied bacon and maple sugar), Brioche French Toast, and Griddled Ham. Sunday bruch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 655 Forest Ave., 847-234-8800
This fabulous Latino-centric restaurant now serves brunch, and they have a lovely outdoor space as well. Huevos con Chorizo, the Breakfast Burrito or a Crab Benedict will pair well with a sprightly Citrus-Thyme Caipririnha (cachaça, citrus, cucumber and thyme). Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 7931 Lincoln Ave., 847-674-8100