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Chicago's 15 Hottest Brunches

By Sarah Freeman
June 27, 2014

Every weekend we wake up with one important question on our mind: what's for brunch? For those who worship at the Sunday pancake altar, Chicago's options are seemingly endless. We picked through the syrupy stack of French toast, buttery Benedicts and even some bread pudding to come up with this short list of hottest brunch options. Don't see your favorite on the list? Tell us in the comments.

  • Acadia

    Why It's Hot: Chef Ryan McCaskey's elevated take on traditional brunch turns Belgian waffles, steak and eggs and Scotch eggs into something worth traveling to the South Loop to taste. Don't miss the brunch cocktails, including a Bloody Mary served with oyster granita.
    Must Order: Lobster Benedict
    Insider Tip: Those complimentary pastries on your table are made by none other than 30 Under 30 Honoree Thomas Raquel.
    Hit It Up: Sundays, 11 AM to 2 PM; 1639 S Wabash Ave.; 312-360-9500

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Avec

    Why It's Hot: It was a pretty big deal when Avec announced it would open for Sunday brunch after shunning the morning meal for 10 years. When it caved, it did so deliciously with breakfast paella, Moroccan "berghir" pancakes and wood-oven-baked French toast. 
    Must Order: Coddled eggs
    Insider Tip: The harissa Bloody Mary might just put all other brunch cocktails to shame.
    Hit It Up: Sunday, 10 AM to 2 PM; 1321 W. Taylor St.; 312-243-1577

  • Bottlefork

    Why It's Hot: Chef Kevin Hickey's new brunch menu got our attention with Spam benedict — steamed buns with canned meat, poached eggs and banana ketchup hollandaise. Less spammy entrees include cast iron-baked French toast as well as corned beef brisket hash.
    Must Order: Braised beef cheek poutine
    Insider Tip: Meat-fat cocktails made it onto the brunch menu in the form of Slaughterhouse Mary with veal, beef and chicken stock.
    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 AM to 2 PM; 441 N. Clark St.; 312-955-1900

  • Carriage House

    Why It's Hot: Over-the-top comfort classics such as biscuits and gravy and fried green tomatoes dominate chef Mark Steuer's menu. Cocktails also follow the Southern suit, with creations along the lines of a smoky and sweet Bloody Mary.
    Must Order: Shrimp grits
    Insider Tip: These are some of the most authentic grits you can find in the city of Chicago.
    Hit It Up: Friday through Sunday, 10 AM to 2 PM; 1700 W. Division St.; 773-384-9700

  • Cicchetti

    Why It's Hot: A taste of Venice in the Gold Coast. The light-filled dining room offers Italian-influenced dishes, including egg-based Venetian strata, ciabatta French toast with caramel apple compote and La Quercia prosciutto, and a Bloody Mary garnished with a chef’s choice of cicchetti or Venetian small bites, such as a fried meatball.
    Must Order: Soft scrambled eggs bruschetta
    Insider Tip: Take brunch on the new sidewalk patio, which serves seasonal punch pitchers.
    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 AM to 3 PM; 671 N. Saint Clair St.; 312-642-1800

  • Dusek’s

    Why It's Hot: Of course the guys from Longman & Eagle are going to dish out some serious brunch game at their new spot. The new Pilsen restaurant puts its A-game on the table with dishes like red wine poached hen eggs with chickpea panisse, dehydrated bacon and braised green beans.
    Must Order: Donuts
    Insider Tip: Keep things simple with two eggs, bacon, house potatoes and Schlitz for $11.
    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM to 3 PM; 1227 W. 18th St.; 312-526-3851

  • Fat Rice

    Why It's Hot: After more than a year of successful dinner service and six weeks of practice runs, the Cha Gordo, or Fat Tea, brunch menu launched earlier this month. A mix of Macanese- and Cantonese-style dumplings round out the dim-sum-style menu.
    Must Order: Ten-karat dumplings
    Insider Tip: No reservations, but go on Friday to avoid a wait.
    Hit It Up: Friday, 11 AM to 2 PM, Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM to 3 PM; 2957 W. Diversey Ave.; 773-661-9170

  • Photo by: Eric Kleinberg Photography

    GT Fish & Oyster

    Why It's Hot: This under-the-radar brunch might be one of the best in River North, with seafood specials like bagels and house-cured gravlax as well as classics such as fried chicken and waffles.
    Must Order: Everything money bread
    Insider Tip: Don’t forget the oysters; a rotating selection is offered fresh daily.
    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM to 2:30 PM; 531 N. Wells St.; 312-929-3501

  • Little Goat

    Why It's Hot: The giant crowd on the corner of Randolph and Green, yes, that’s for brunch. They are waiting for Stephanie Izard’s take on diner fare, which includes fat Elvis waffles and goat milk lattes.
    Must Order: "Kimchi & Bacon & Eggs & Pancakes Asian Style Breakfast Tasty Thing"
    Insider Tip: While you wait, grab a seat at the bar where a glass window separates guest from the bread bakery.
    Hit It Up: Every day starting at 10 AM; 820 W. Randolph St.; 312-888-3455

  • Lula Café

    Why It's Hot: Seasonal, approachable, creative and most importantly, long-standing, this Logan Square staple serves delicious food at all hours of the day. Innovative takes on Benedicts, pancakes and breakfast sandwiches define the ever-changing menu.
    Must Order: Bread pudding French toast
    Insider Tip: Grab the full menu at the bar if the dining room is packed.
    Hit It Up: Wednesday through Monday, 9 AM to 2:30 PM; 2537 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-489-9554

  • Nico

    Why It's Hot: A solution to avoid this crazy popular restaurant's dinner crowds is to stop by for weekend brunch. The menu serves just as sophisticated Italian dishes during the day, such as Publican Quality Meats' Cotechino sausage over lentils as well as Baccala Montecato Fett'unta starring Dungeness crab.
    Must Order: Oven-baked apple and pistacio pancakes
    Insider Tip: Although reservations are still difficult to come by, the sidewalk patio is open to walk-ins.
    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM to 3 PM; 1015 N. Rush St.; 312-994-7100

  • Photo by: LTH Forum

    The Publican

    Why It's Hot: With a different menu on Saturdays and Sundays, the meat-heavy restaurant keeps true to its calling during brunch with over-baked sourdough pancakes filled with bacon-wrapped chicken thigh and house sausage.
    Must Order: Pub bacon
    Insider Tip: The restaurant's stellar pastry chef makes a selection of freshly baked treats each morning
    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM to 3 PM; 837 W. Fulton Mkt.; 312-733-9555

  • Stella Barra

    Why It's Hot: The pizzeria’s new brunch menu takes four classic dishes and flattens them out to fit onto the restaurant's perfectly crispy, chewy and airy crust. Each pizza is made with five scrambled eggs baked in the hearth oven; we want the one with mozzarella, housemade Italian sausage and Calabrian chilies.
    Must Order: Chilaquiles pizza
    Insider Tip: if you are looking for a more traditional brunch, go next door to Summer House Santa Monica.
    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM to 4 PM; 1954 N. Halsted St.; 773-634-4101

  • Tanta

    Why It's Hot: Ceviche might not sound like a typical morning option, but in Peru it’s common to start the day with fresh seafood, just like the Cebiche Tanta. Less exotic brunch options include the Cachanga, or a fried pancake made with sweet dough and topped with seasonal fruit and kabocha ice cream.
    Must Order: Huevos Tanta
    Insider Tip: Tanta’s version of a mimosa substitutes orange juice with Maracuya (or Peruvian passion fruit)
    Hit It Up: Sundays, 11 AM to 2:30 PM; 118 W. Grand Ave.; 312-222-9700

  • The Winchester

    Why It's Hot: The newest Ukrainian Village all-day dining destination not only serves daily breakfast but offers a selection of brunch specials. It’s only been open a month, but the secret's out about the delicious morning menu. 
    Must Order: Avocado toast
    Insider Tip: Ask about the coffee program, which features local guest roasters
    Hit It Up: Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM to 2:30 PM; 1001 N. Winchester Ave.; 773-698-8703

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Places Mentioned

Three Aces

Italian • Little Italy/University Village

Food22 Decor17 Service20 Cost$28
 
 
 
GT Fish & Oyster

Seafood • River North

Food25 Decor23 Service23 Cost$55
 
 
 
Lula Cafe

Eclectic • Logan Square

Food26 Decor20 Service23 Cost$30
 
 
 
Avec Restaurant

Mediterranean • West Loop

Food28 Decor23 Service24 Cost$48
 
 
 
Bottlefork

Bar And Grill • River North

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Fat Rice

Asian • Logan Square

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Little Goat Diner

Diner • West Loop

Food25 Decor26 Service27 CostM
 
 
 
Tanta

Peruvian • River North

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Dusek's Board & Beer

Bar • Pilsen

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Stella Barra Pizzeria

Pizza • Lincoln Park

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Nico Osteria

Italian • Gold Coast

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Cicchetti

Italian • Streeterville

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
The Winchester

American • East Village

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
 
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