The Best Brunches in Chicago

April 9, 2018
·
by Zagat Staff

Everything from pancakes to dim sum. 

avec Restaurant
Mediterranean · West Loop · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

A "longtime favorite" in the West Loop, Paul Kahan’s "dynamic" Mediterranean "still delivers" , pairing "phenomenal" , "creative" small and large plates (the "bacon-wrapped dates are a must" ) with a "thoughtful, fresh" wine list; yes, it can be "crushingly busy" in the "postmodern" quarters where a no-reservations policy during dinnertime leads to "inevitable waits" , but communal seating and a "top-notch" staff add to the "fabulous energy."
Nico Osteria
Italian · Gold Coast · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

This "high-energy" Gold Coast Italian "go-to" from Paul Kahan and company "delivers on its culinary promises" with "imaginative" offerings such as "ultra-fresh" seafood and "flawless" pastas, backed by craft cocktails and "interesting" wines; a "knowledgeable" , "self-assured" staff tends the "beautiful" Thompson Hotel setting, and if tables feel "tight" you can always "sit at the counter" to "see the cooks" at work, or try the patio in summer.
Lula Cafe
New American · Logan Square · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

"Serving farm-to-table cuisine before it became popular" , this Logan Square "mainstay" is a "gold mine" for "exquisite" , "creative" New American fare (including an "amazing" vegetarian tasting menu) and "wonderful" cocktails; a "well-informed" staff works the "stylish" yet "laid-back" room where you "never feel rushed" – even when there are "huge lines" for the "fantastic" , no-reservations weekend brunch.
Fat Rice
Asian · Logan Square · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

A "tiny restaurant" with "big flavors" , this "unconventional" Logan Square "standout" offers an "exceptionally creative" Macanese menu ( "it’s every bit as exotic as it sounds" ) of "gorgeous" , "next-level" dishes, including a "fantastic" brunch; factor in "excellent cocktails" and a "convivial" , "boho-chic" setting and it’s "worthy of the hype" – the "only bad part is the wait."
The Bristol
American · Bucktown · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

A Bucktown "treasure" , this "hip" New American spot offers "rustic yet gourmet" plates that take "casual dining up two notches" through local sourcing and "modern twists" ; a "comfortable" , brick-walled space and "attentive" servers enhance its appeal, as do "well-constructed" cocktails which some say might be "the best part."
Gather
American · Ravenswood · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

"A truly special farm-to-table spot" , this Ravenswood "gem" offers "immaculately crafted" New American fare with a "sharing-plates" focus, plus an "awesome" family-style dinner menu on Sundays; overseen by a "gracious" team, the "intimate" yet convivial room and "absolutely delightful" patio add to the reasons fans say this is "dining done well."
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits
American · Logan Square · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

"Homemade goodness" radiates from these "cozy" bakery/cafes, dishing up "delightful" , "amazing" pies and "darn-good" sandwiches made with "decadent" , "buttery" biscuits; they’re "crazy busy" on weekends, but fans say the "fantastic" grub makes it "worth the wait." P.S. Seasonal assets include a fireplace in Ravenswood and a "wonderful" garden in Logan Square.
m.henry
American · Andersonville · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

"Well-prepared" breakfast and lunch plates get an "enthusiastic thumbs up" from fans of this "adorable" Andersonville cafe, where the New American menu includes "amazing" brunch fare including French toast to make you "swoon" and "great" baked goods; though it "can get crowded and noisy" , most agree it’s "worth the wait" for a table, and the "friendly" staff makes sure "coffee refills are never too far away."
The Publican
American · West Loop · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.3

"Pork is elevated to gourmet status" at Paul Kahan's West Loop New American, where an "imaginative" small-plates menu ( "sharing is the name of the game" ) celebrates "all things pig" , but also includes a "fine selection" of seafood and other "thoughtful" dishes for "non-swine lovers" too; drinks are "delicious" and the digs "cool" , and while "long" communal tables mean it can get "loud" , most still agree it "scores on all fronts."
3 Arts Club Cafe
American · Gold Coast · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.4

Set inside the atrium of the Gold Coast’s Restoration Hardware, this "unique" hangout from Brendan Sodikoff (Au Cheval) combines coffeehouse, wine bar and American kitchen with a menu of "excellent" , "classic" fare spanning breakfast pastries, sandwiches and seasonal plates, plus vinos and beer; the "beautiful" , swanky setting, with its plush sofas, candle lanterns and central fountain, lends an "amazing atmosphere."
Mindy’s HotChocolate
American · Wicker Park · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

At this Wicker Park American, the "rich" desserts are "sublime, of course" , but the savory seasonal dishes also make for a "nurturing" dinner and might "remind you of things you ate growing up" ; its warm, brown-accented digs have a "hip vibe" , and it does a "great brunch" too – just "save room" for the "decadent" hot chocolate.
Dusek's Board & Beer
New American · Pilsen · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.3

A "place out of time" , this "classy" gastropub in Pilsen’s circa-1892 Thalia Hall provides a "beautiful" , brick-and-chandelier space for "hipsters" to sample an "innovative" , "meat-heavy" American menu, "diverse" beers and seasonal cocktails, all courtesy of an "enthusiastic" staff; the music venue next door and a punch-centric bar downstairs (Punch House) make it "a real destination."
Dove's Luncheonette
Diner · Wicker Park · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

"Gourmet comfort food" with a Tex-Mex "twist" is on the menu at this "hip" Wicker Park "winner" from the Blackbird team, also serving "wonderful" desserts and "fantastic" cocktails in a "fun, vintage diner" setting; a retro soul and blues soundtrack adds to the "buzzy" vibe, making it a "must-visit" that’s "worth" the sometimes "long" waits (it’s no-reservations).
Big Jones
Southern American · Andersonville · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

"When you miss NOLA" or long for "a night out in Charleston" , fans suggest this midpriced Andersonville "destination" for a "genuine, quality Southern food experience" (especially at the "don't-miss brunch" ) courtesy of a "surprising" menu featuring both "locally sourced" products and ingredients that are somewhat "unheard of" in Chicago; "helpful" servers, "warm, welcoming" surroundings and a landscaped outdoor patio also make for a "memorable" experience.
Beatrix
American · River North · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.3

“Comfort food” gets a “healthy twist” at these “vibrant” all-day American kitchens, whose “inventive” , “consistently delicious” offerings include “excellent” brunches, plus coffee and juice bars; the “down-to-earth” , “eclectic” surrounds are “always hopping” , and the Streeterville and Loop ‘Market’ locations also feature a grab-and-go area.
Southport Grocery and Cafe
Cafe · Lakeview · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.9

"If you can climb over the strollers" and endure "long waits on weekends" , you'll be rewarded with "creative" brunch/lunch fare delivered by a "friendly" staff at this Lakeview New American; perusing the "super-cool dry goods" passes time while queued for "limited seating" in the "small" space (it's no reservations), and those who "don't skip the cupcakes" warn you may need a "double workout" afterward.
Chicago q, Barbecue Restaurant Down Town , Gold Coast Best BBQ
Barbecue · River North · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

A "higher-end" BBQ experience can be had at this "hopping" Gold Coast ’cue joint turning out "finger-lickin’" ribs and other "updated" smokehouse eats alongside a "terrific bourbon selection" ; the "cool" , "inviting" digs feature leather banquettes and lots of wood, and there's a patio too; P.S. try not to "overdose" on the complimentary pickles and chips.
Bernie's Lunch & Supper
American · River North · $$$

A concise menu of Mediterranean fare includes small plates, sandwiches and wood-fired entrees at this polished River North hangout also mixing artisanal cocktails. The stylish space boasts brick walls lined with teal banquettes, plus sculptural lighting, an open kitchen and a seasonal roof deck.
The Allis
Bar · West Loop · $$

By day, this stylish hangout in the West Loop's Soho House offers morning pastries, fresh juices, light lunch and afternoon high tea, while by night it turns into a happening bar pouring craft cocktails. The lofty bi-level digs span a lobby area with warm wood, crystal chandeliers and a marble bar, plus an upstairs lounge with comfy couches suitable for snacking on an all-day menu of small plates and wood-fired pizzas.
Duck Duck Goat
Chinese · West Loop · $$

Chef Stephanie Izard cooks creative Chinese fare – including dim sum, hand-pulled noodles, duck and goat dishes – at this buzzy West Loop outpost also serving an all-can beer list and crafty cocktails with Asian flavors. The striking AvroKO-designed space features ornate, distinctively decorated dining areas with banquettes, lazy Susan tabletops and exotic drapery, plus a bar made to look like an outdoor pavilion, and there's also a take-out window, Duck Duck Ta'Go.
Café Marie-Jeanne
Cafe · Humboldt Park · $$

This modern, French-style cafe and wine bar in Humboldt Park features breakfast, lunch and dinner (with optional prix fixe) along with a deli counter and prepared foods served in a relaxed dining area with mosaic-tiled tables and a tin ceiling.