Brunch Off the Beaten Path

Come Sunday morning, there’s nothing I’d rather do than grab my family or a few friends and sit down to brunch.

If someone else cooks and serves it to me, then hands me a Bloody Mary or a sparkly champagne and pomegranate juice concoction, all the better. But I can tell you that not all brunches are created equal. I’m not interested in the standard buffet groaning board. If you’re looking for something a little different, we can hook you up.

CHICAGO

Big Jones
Start with a Sazerac, that classic New Orleans cocktail, and a basket of popovers, Sally Lunn bread and some cornbread muffins. But save room for the crawfish- and andouille-filled omelets or Shrimp and Grits. Maybe don’t eat the night before to be safe. 5347 N. Clark St., 773-275-5725

City Winery
Klezmer Brunch! Munch your bagels and lox, latkes and blintzes while tapping your toes to a fabulous Klezmer band. If so moved, get up and dance. Yes, it’s a buffet, but the music makes it something special. 1200 W. Randolph St., 312-733-9463

House of Blues
Inspiring gospel performances accompany the Southern favorites like Jambalaya, Biscuits and Gravy, Cheesy Grits, waffles and more. This is a buffet set to a gorgeous gospel beat. 329 N. Dearborn St., 312-923-2000

North Pond
Three fabulous courses for $33? For James Beard Award-winning Chef Bruce Sherman’s food, that’s the bargain of the century. Between the view of Lincoln Park, the gorgeous Arts and Crafts décor, and the swoon-worthy menu, this brunch is a must. 2610 N. Cannon Dr., 773-477-5845 (photo courtesy of North Pond Restaurant)

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Senza
Who knew that a gluten-free brunch menu – including waffles and beignets – was even possible? And it’s delicious. The three-course meal is $24, but I guarantee you’ll want to add the Potato Terrine with Gruyere and Truffle. 2873 N. Broadway, 773-770-3527

DES PLAINES

Gail’s Carriage Inn & Pancake House
The depth and breadth of the breakfast offerings here is mind-boggling: 22 kinds of pancakes, 6 Benedicts, 10 varieties of the hash-brown encrusted Spuds Omelet, 16 different crepes… you get the idea. 1145 Elmhurst Rd., 847-758-9407

EVANSTON

Bistro Bordeaux
Be a darling and order me a Kir Royal Framboise, and maybe the Lamb Merguez with creamy coddled eggs and caramelized fennel? Oh, and maybe a Julius Meinl Cappuccino? We can talk dessert later. 618 Church St., 847-424-1483

Dixie Kitchen
NOLA meets the North Shore! Enjoy Cajun Biscuits and Andouille Gravy, Eggs Sardou, or Fried Catfish and Eggs and feel the Louisiana love. 825 Church St., 847-733-9030

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Lucky Platter
I crave their Smoked Turkey Hash and Cinnamon-Glazed Bacon, but I’d be just as happy with the Fried Green Tomato Benedict. Plus, there’s garage sale artwork abounding and a cool vibe I love. 514 Main St., 847-869-4064

Union Pizzeria
Maybe it’s the Italian Mary or the Pear & Cranberry Bellini talking but this is a damn good brunch. Whether you choose the Breakfast Bruschetta, the Linguine Carbonara (bacon and eggs!) or the Shrimp and Bacon Pizza, you can’t go wrong. 1245 Chicago Ave., 847-475-2400

HIGHLAND PARK

Max’s Deli  

Put your name on the list, because there’s always a line at Max’s on Sunday mornings. But that’s because this deli has everything you want: latkes, blintzes, bagels and lox, omelets, corned beef hash and matzo balls. 191 Skokie Valley Rd., 847-831-0600

NORTHBROOK

Pinstripes  
What makes this brunch buffet special? Family bowling and/or bocce! 1150 Willow Rd., 847-480-2323

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SKOKIE

The Bagel
If you can make it past the plethora of chocolate treats and baked goods that crowd the front counter, order the Salami and Eggs with a side of rye toast, or maybe a toasted bagel with a scoop of the creamy whitefish salad. 50 Old Orchard Ctr., 847-677-0100

WILMETTE

Convito Café and Market
Start with a basket of Beignets for the table, and then follow with one of the French or Italian-accented choices. Whether you opt for the Classic Mussels with garlic bruschetta, the Asparagus Milanese, or the Convito Hash (pictured top right), you won’t be disappointed in this sunlit room filled with fanciful artwork. 1515 Sheridan Rd., 847-251-3654

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WINNETKA

Avli
I love the Hellenic touches at this brunch: omelets filled with real Feta cheese; French Toast made with traditional Greek sweet bread and lots of cinnamon; thick yogurt topped with fresh fruit and Greek honey. 566 Chestnut St. (Inside The Laundry), 847-446-9300