A breakfast, or brunch, of champions starts one of two ways: savory or sweet. For those on the savory side, maybe eggs Benedict is the dish of choice, but on the sweet side, there is no denying the allure of French toast. These 12 versions use rich custards and elegant add-ons to give old bread new life.
Over the years, this breakfast-only restaurant has created nearly 100 iterations of French toast, which appear on special (the latest is cookies and cream). But it always serves four classics as well as a flight including the lemon French toast, made with brioche bread dipped in housemade lemon batter and topped with lemon zest, house-candied walnuts and maple butter.
2748 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-248-7710
Sally Lunn French toast gets its name from the housemade Sally Lunn bread, which gained popularity in the 18th century. The enriched yeast bread is dipped in egg batter, served with coconut pastry cream, whipped cream and seasonal fruit.
5347 N. Clark St.; 773-275-5725
This popular (read: impossibly packed on the weekends) brunch destination is known for its over-the-top sweets like the chocolate tower French toast. Bittersweet chocolate chunk bread is stuffed with maple mascarpone and served with banana crème brûlée sauce, fresh bananas and shaved chocolate.
1470 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-489-0690
This brewery gives its French toast a crunchy exterior by coasting it in cereal. Known as The Captain’s French Toast, fresh challah bread is dipped in a rum-spiked egg and cream batter before being encrusted in Captain Crunch cereal. It is made even more decedent with “liquid cheesecake,” aka blueberries and warm bourbon maple syrup.
3155 N. Broadway St.; 773-857-3155
Another breakfast classic takes its inspiration from classic cereals. The Fruity Pebbles French Toast is encrusted with what else but Fruity Pebbles cereal. The crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside delight is served with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and maple syrup.
1434 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-243-0477
A French toast lover’s life is not complete without trying this version. Brioche is sous vide in malted custard and then gently caramelized on each side. It's served with macerated cherries, lime leaf cream and pink peppercorns - French toast at its most refined.
3057 W. Logan Blvd.; 773-292-6011
French toast in an ice cream? If you say so, Jeni. This new limited-edition flavor starts with bananas and honey ice cream and is combined with French toast "gravel," which includes flavorful pecans, French toast bits, cinnamon, coffee and maple syrup. It’s an entire breakfast for dessert, in a single scoop.
3404 N. Southport Ave.; 773-348-7139
Red-velvet cake has appeared as a cupcake and a pancake waffle, and now it makes an appearance in red-velvet French toast with cream cheese frosting, fresh strawberries and crème anglaise. It's served at both the original an Old Town location.
At this Fulton market hot spot, they do their French toast Brazilian-style, which is basically deep-fried. It goes by the name of Rabanada and is made by taking slices of French baguette, dipping it in batter and throwing it in the fryer. It is served with dulce de leche, bananas and cachaça.
954 W. Fulton Mkt.; 312-226-5300
For those who want a little savory in their sweet breakfast items, leave it to Stephanie Izard and her Bulk’s Eye French Toast. The dish starts with sweet onion brioche that's dipped in egg batter and seared, then served with eggs, crispy chicken and barbecue-maple syrup.
820 W. Randolph St.; 312-888-3455
Just when we thought we found every interpretation of bread pudding, this Logan Square favorite goes ahead and turns it into French toast. The bread pudding French toast is served with pretzels and chocolate, salted caramel and malted whipped cream.
2537 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-489-9554
Saving the most iconic and classic slices of French toast for last, we have the simple execution of thick-sliced bread dipped in sweet egg batter and gently seared before being served with peach butter and maple syrup.
2100 W. Roscoe St.; 773-665-0227