Chicago is a city of brunchers. This weekend morning — and let’s be honest, sometimes afternoon scene, brings out the bold, the beautiful and the boozy (am I talking about the food or the people? You decide!). But there are a few brunches that stand out from the pack, and after much careful consideration I’m letting you in on my top brunch spots – in no particular order, some new some old, and their standout dishes so you know exactly what’s worth ordering and where to get it.
Why It Made the List: Heaven takes an edible form at Cantina 1910 and their take on Mexican cuisine is nothing short of unique. The menu is divided into three sections – pequeno (small), mediano (medium) and grande (large), and I urge you to order from all three. So what’s the standout dish? Without a doubt, the Huevos Motulenos.
Made with two sunny side up eggs, avocado, chorizo, ham, black beans and a special tomato salsa over tortillas, the sauce on this dish takes two hours to simmer down, and tastes differently in every stage of the simmer. With both jalapeno and Anaheim peppers, there’s a subtle bit of heat in every bite. The layers of flavor reveal the careful construction and depth of this dish. It will make you want to lick your plate clean!
And we all know that brunch isn’t brunch without a boozy libation to accompany the meal, and it’s no surprise that the cocktails are just as good as the food with master mixologist, Michael Fawthrop calling the shots behind the bar. The best brunch cocktail to hit the block since the Bloody Mary (and those are outstanding too) is the Kansas Katie. Served in a glass milk carton, this stunning cocktail, made with sunflower Letherbee Gin, lemon and egg whites, tastes just as good as it looks. And if you don’t want to shake things up too much but still want to try something a little different, Cantina 1910 offers their signature 1910 Bloody Mary, the Green Bloody Mary and Mary’s tequila sister the Bloody Maria. How’s that for options?
5025 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640
Why It Made the List: No one would ever know it by tasting the food, but C Chicago is new to the brunch scene. Not only is the space stunning with its high ceilings and luxe green chairs, the brunch menu is full of dishes that sound familiar but have a unique twist. Case in point – the Maine Lobster Scramble. The seafood is brought in fresh everyday and each fish and crustacean alike is no more than 24 hours out of the ocean. The lobster is succulent and buttery, and the eggs are fluffy and light. Surprisingly the pièce de résistance of the menu is the breakfast tacos. Chorizo is mixed in with Poblano peppers and those fluffy scrambled eggs I mentioned earlier, to create a hearty taco with a little bit of heat – it’s beyond compare.
20 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654
Why It Made the List: Allium is my go-to spot when I’m looking to indulge in the lighter, lunchier side of brunch. And nothing satisfies my craving more than the Tuna Crudo. The flavors are as bold as the dish is beautiful and the balance of acid is almost breathtaking. If you’re ever wondering what a crudo should taste like, this is it. With a farm-to-table philosophy it’s no surprise that the brightness in this dish radiates from its freshness. Made with raw tuna, passion fruit, black truffle and parsnips, I could argue that this is a flawless plate of food. Moral of the story? Run, don’t walk.
120 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611
Why It Made the List: Cute, quaint and easy to love, the moment you sit down at Bohemian House you’ll feel like you’re sitting in the dining room of your European grandmothers’, even if you don’t have a European grandmother. Bohemian House is your new grandmother and she knows how to cook and make craft cocktails. Inspired by Central European cooking, this place is a breath of fresh air. So what should you order immediately? The Hungarian Langos. Made with fried potato bread, aged Gouda and served with a garlic sour cream (close your mouth — you’re drooling), this decadent dish is enough to keep you coming back over and over again. I have awakened from a good night’s sleep thinking about this.
11 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654
Why It Made the List: I can only describe Fig & Olive as stunning. With three levels, a marble cocktail bar and views of Oak Street, this is where I go when I want to get my crostini fix. With eight mix-and-match options to choose from, it’s always a delicious sort of game ordering from this part of menu. However, I’ve found my favorites are the goat cheese, carmelized onion and chive, the Manchego, fig and Marcona almond, and finally, the Gorgonzola, apple and red pepper marmalade. These scrumptious pairings are almost as fun to order as they are to eat.
104 E Oak St, Chicago, IL 60611
Why It Made the List: The Winchester is the spot everyone wishes they had in their neighborhood. This bright and cheerful little place is warm, inviting and the food is flavorful. The Avocado Toast is a must try. Served on a perfectly toasted piece of bread, the avocado is plentiful and the grilled corn, red chilies and mint kick the flavors of this fresh and creamy fruit up a notch. The fried egg that lives within, mixes together with these flavors to create something you never knew you wanted but now know you always have to have.
And that’s not all. The Croque Winchester is a true masterpiece. It all starts with a Belgian leige waffle, which is coated in a caramelized sugar. Sitting atop this fluffy, honeycomb creation is a slightly crispy prosciutto, a sunny side up egg, a savory Swiss cheese and a texturally refined maple mustard. This rich, sweet and savory dish is what makes brunch here a mouthwatering adventure.
1001 N Winchester Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Why It Made the List: The always elegant but forever rock n’ roll Nellcôte asks you to wake and bake the moment you walk through the door — both literally and figuratively. Once you sit down you should order two things: the Champagne & Reefer and the Maple Bacon Donut. This sweet treat has just the right amount of smokiness to cut through the sugar and the slightly sour finish of the Champagne and Reefer is the best thing to wash it down with.
Yes, I’m telling you to eat dessert for breakfast, BUT once you finish, the next order you should place is for the Lobster Hash. The poached hen eggs are mixed together with luscious chunks of lobster and then topped with a creamy paprika hollandaise sauce. Since Nellcote mills their own flour in house, it goes without saying that this is best eaten with buttery toast.
833 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
Why It Made the List: Two words: mimosa kit. At Sunda when you order this you’re presented with a small wooden box filled with mini carafes of four different juices and a bowl of fresh berries. Next, the server pulls up an ice bucket, pops the champagne and allows you to choose which juice to try first. Side note: it’s only $35. This alone makes going worthwhile (who says you can’t drink your brunch?) but there is a dish I also have to mention — the BYO Miso Ramen. This clever creation puts you in the kitchen without ever having to leave your seat. You receive a card that allows you to detail what ingredients you want to see in your miso ramen — tiger shrimp, braised oxtail, kimchi, tofu, you name it! It’s served in a hot, salty pork, chicken and beef broth that will warm you from the inside out.
110 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654
Why It Made the List: Siena Tavern is always busy and aside from the spectacular location, the fact that Top Chef alum Fabio Viviani is the chef behind the menu and the delicious drinks, I think it’s like this for two reasons: the Coccoli and the Burnt Pepperoni Pizza. The Coccoli is the most delightful little serving of crispy dough, prosciutto di parma and cheese served with a truffle honey. The sweet, salty and savory elements at play create an exquisite burst of titillating flavors along the palate that will only leave you feeling happy and hungry for more. And that’s where the Burnt Pepperoni Pizza comes in. The handmade dough is dressed in a spicy tomato sauce with red chilies and then topped with yummy mozzarella cheese and crisp pepperoni. This scrumptious pie won’t be on your plate for long.
51 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654
Why It Made the List: Hanging out here all day would be plausible if I had a never ending supply of mimosas and a bottomless “Bag” of Crisps and Eggs. This delicious snack is ingenious and the bold flavors are addicting. The beautifully simple preparation begins with a two-minute poached egg. From there, the egg is poured into a bag and shaken together with homemade chips, malt vinegar powder and sea salt, and then poured into a perfectly sized ceramic bowl. The flavor of the egg marries with the vinegar powder and salt in a way that creates a harmonious balance on the taste buds. This is a snack that I start eating with my hands and finish eating with my fork – not a crumb goes to waste.
When I’m done snacking I move right onto the Breakfast Sope. I’m a sucker for anything with guacamole and when fried eggs, chorizo black beans, Cotija cheese and Ranchera sauce get added into the mix I’m completely sold. This dish is a multitude of different textures and the flavors build on each other. The portion is an ideal size so you don’t even have to consider whether to doggy bag or not – there won’t be any leftovers.
441 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654