Where to brunch is perhaps the most important decision of every weekend and with such pressure, it's imperative that the right choice is made. While the Eater Chicago Brunch Heatmap highlights what’s new and popular at the moment, the following is an overall look at the essential places around town for eggs Benedict, pancakes, bloody Marys, and more. New additions to the list include Stephanie Izard’s Peruvian hotspot Cabra, lauded Southern restaurant Virtue, and lavish Gold Coast steakhouse Maple & Ash.Read More
The 20 Essential Brunch Restaurants in Chicago
The best Chicago spots for bloodies, Benedicts, and more
1. M. Henry
Andersonville’s beloved daytime cafe has well-executed brunch dishes for nearly every palate. Sweets include cinnamon roll French toast; vegans can enjoy the organic tofu scramble; and "Fannie’s Killer Fried Egg Sandwich" is a delicious combination of eggs, bacon, tomatoes, thyme, and Gorgonzola.
2. Big Jones
Chef Paul Fehribach pays homage to Southern cooking by focusing on locally-grown and sustainably-farmed ingredients. Weekend brunch staples include beignets, shrimp and grits, and the popular eggs New Orleans — a riff on eggs Benedict featuring blue crab cakes in popovers with poached eggs and béarnaise sauce.
Breakfast and brunch get full attention at this creative Logan Square spot. Jam elevates morning cuisine and delivers dishes like malted custard French toast and hot chicken and waffles.
4. Batter & Berries
Chicagoans indulge their sweet tooths on a variety of luscious French toasts at this Lincoln Park cafe, such as caramel French toast topped with candied walnuts, caramel batter, and dulce de leche. Can’t decide on just one? Sample them all in a flight. Batter & Berries is also BYOB.
5. Lula Cafe
Jason Hammel helped spark the farm-to-table movement in Chicago and his Logan Square spot remains an exemplar of seasonal and locally-sourced fare. The bustling restaurant is always busy in the mornings, when guests have options such as brioche French toast, smoked lake trout scramble, and a rotating breakfast sandwich.
6. Mott Street
Edward Kim’s fusion eatery doles out Korean-influenced street food and Asian dishes with a twist. Try pork jowl and eggs, coconut pancakes, kimchi fried rice, eggplant Benedict, and more on Sundays. Mott Street’s lauded burger is available during brunch service too, and its lush patio is great for al fresco dining.
7. Maple & Ash
The opulent steakhouse dials Sunday brunch up a few notches. Come hungry because the all-you-can-eat experience features carved meats, made-to-order omelets, pastas, fresh fruits and pastries, breakfast food stations, and other Maple & Ash favorites. Pair the spread with a bottle of bubbles — juices are included so that guests can make their own mimosas — for one of the most lavish brunches in town.
8. Cafe Marie-Jeanne
Cafe Marie-Jeanne is the type of restaurant every neighborhood needs — a casual European cafe where one can leisurely enjoy a shot of espresso while munching on pastries, caviar toast, seared foie gras, and sautéed calf brains.
9. Pacific Standard Time
From the bright and breezy space to Erling Wu-Bower’s California-inspired flavors, Pacific Standard Time has been one of Chicago’s hottest destinations since opening in 2018. The stars of the kitchen are two wood-burning hearths, which are used to crank out puffy pita bread and pizzas. Brunch highlights include pull-apart milk rolls, pork and shrimp dumplings, and fried chicken with grits.
10. The Publican
One Off Hospitality's European-inspired beer hall has been a Chicago essential for more than a decade, specializing in pork and seafood-centric dishes and beer. The menu constantly changes but one can always expect to find spicy pork rinds, maple-syrup-braised pub bacon, and crispy hash browns.
The Alinea Group’s casual and boisterous restaurant is decidedly less upscale than its siblings, but the food is just as impressive. The brunch menu boasts an A5 wagyu burger, Yukon duck hash, and what’s arguably the finest fried chicken sandwich in Chicago.
At her latest hotspot, Top Chef and Iron Chef winner Stephanie Izard celebrates Peruvian cuisine in a chic and scenic setting. Located on the 12th floor of the Hoxton hotel, Cabra’s lively space is bathed in natural light and provides sweeping views of the skyline. Patrons stopping in for brunch have options like ceviches, goat empanadas, black plantain waffles with chicharrón pork belly, and lomo saltado.
13. Sweet Maple Cafe
Battle the throngs of UIC students and locals at this home-style cafe nestled away on Taylor Street among all the Italian eateries. The rewards are worth the effort: hearty scrambles, customizable omelets, fluffy pancakes, home fries, and fried catfish nuggets.
The reclamation of historic Thalia Hall in 2013 was a success, due in part to the Longman and Eagle team’s gastropub on the ground floor. The restaurant continues to shine with weekend brunch offerings like leek and kale quiche, chilaquiles, hot chicken and waffles, and smoked salmon BLT. They're best enjoyed with one of the beermosas.
After some time away from Chicago’s culinary scene, Thai Dang made a triumphant return with HaiSous. The former Embeya chef, along with his wife Danielle, showcase homey Vietnamese flavors through a host of techniques, such as clay pot cooking. The brunch menu features specialties like rice porridge with chopped clams; prawn rice crepes; noodle soups; fried chicken wings; and Vietnamese omelets.
Stephen Gillanders’s contemporary American restaurant with Asian influences has received high marks for approachable, fine-dining-caliber food at affordable price points. During brunch service, a three-course dim sum menu features choices such as bacon and egg fried rice, coconut pancakes, and fried chicken. The meal can also be complemented with a la carte items like lobster dumplings and black truffle croquettes.
17. Duck Inn
Kevin Hickey has been turning heads for years at his Bridgeport restaurant. The menu leans heavily on elevated comfort foods, such as fried cheese curds, a duck fat dog, and a top notch hamburger sandwich. For brunch-ier plates, there’s an “Egg McDuckInn” sandwich and, predictably, rotisserie duck hash.
This Mexican-influenced, farm-to-table eatery is a South Side brunch stalwart. The menu changes seasonally to highlight the freshest ingredients but avocado fries, the “Nanadict” (sopes, chorizo, poached eggs, poblano cream sauce), and huevos rancheros are always available.
19. Pearl's Place
Nourish the soul with down home comforts at this South Side stalwart. Shrimp and grits, pecan pancakes, and juicy fried chicken are just a few of the scrumptious items on the menu. In addition, there’s a brunch buffet as well that offers an unlimited supply of omelets, waffles, sausages, and more.
Eater Chicago’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year sets a new standard for Southern cuisine in the city. Utilizing fine dining techniques, chef Erick Williams prepares soul food that’s both original and familiar. Brunch service entices diners with inspired takes on classics, such as cinnamon rolls, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and biscuits and gravy.