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Best brunch spots

Time Out Chicago · Chicago Food Tour · created about 2 years ago

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  • Frittata at Pump Room in Chicago, IL

    The frittata at the Pump Room looks like no frittata we’ve ever seen, surrounding sunny-side-up eggs with bread cubes, asparagus and dill. Can the other frittatas follow suit?

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  • Chocolate Cinnamon Roll at Table Fifty-Two in Chicago, IL

    Is the inside of the monstrous chocolate cinnamon roll at Table Fifty-Two deliciously gooey or a little raw? Guess we’ll have to get another one to find out.

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  • Pastry Basket at The Gage in Chicago, IL

    The pastry basket, filled with sticky sweet rolls and tender coffee cake, was the best part of brunch at the Gage.

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  • "Moo" Ice Cream Flight at Bin Wine Cafe in Chicago, IL

    We shamelessly order the kids’ “moo” flight (plain, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry milk) at bin wine café.

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  • Three-Course Brunch at Mercat a la Planxa - Chicago in Chicago, IL

    For $25, Mercat a la Planxa offers a three-course brunch with unlimited trips to a carving/charcuterie station and a pastry table that are worth the cash alone.

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    Potato Pancakes at Glenn's Diner in Chicago, IL

    You say potato, we say Glenn’s Diner’s potato pancake, which is studded with chives and laced with creamy Parmesan.

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  • Challah French Toast at Feast Restaurant + Bar in Chicago, IL

    Perfection is: French toast that’s crisp and browned on the outside, custardy on the inside and topped with a blueberry-peach compote that tastes fresh even in winter. $8.95.By the time I made my way from the brioche’s crisp exterior to its custardy interior, an odd mass of whipped cream revealed its true identity—whipped maple syrup—as it reduced to its original form. Genius. $10.

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    French Toast at Longman & Eagle in Chicago, IL

    By the time I made my way from the brioche’s crisp exterior to its custardy interior, an odd mass of whipped cream revealed its true identity—whipped maple syrup—as it reduced to its original form. Genius. $10.

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  • French Toast at Pump Room in Chicago, IL

    An exemplar of its form, this French toast teams thick-cut slices of challah with two strips of extra-crispy bacon for the perfect sweet-salty combo. $12.

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  • Strawberry Challah Stuffed French Toast at e.leaven in Chicago, IL

    I’m still not sure if “stuffed” is a reference to the dish or to how I felt after eating it—but I’ll take a food coma in exchange for cornflake-crusted challah slices layered with whipped strawberry cream cheese. $9.95

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  • Banana Nut Bread French Toast at Jane's in Chicago, IL

    Some French toast can’t hold up when the maple syrup comes a-pouring. But this pan-fried banana bread has stamina. Fortitude. Spunk. Meet the winner of TOC’s first (very official) No Soggy Slices award. $10.

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    Huevos rancheros at Nana in Chicago, IL

    Deep-fried tortillas make poufy, crunchy pillows for any-style eggs, refried pinto beans and sauce with a kick (on my visit, smoky chipotle ranchero). Add pulled pork, chorizo or soyrizo for $2. $12.

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  • Uncommon Huevos at Uncommon Ground in Chicago, IL

    Here, black-bean cakes covered in melted Chihuahua cheese serve as the base of the dish for a memorable twist on the same ol’, same ol’. $11.

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  • Huevos rancheros at Mixteco Grill in Chicago, IL

    The brightness of the tomato sauce, the garnish of queso fresco and the pliable pan-fried tortillas set this take apart from the pack. $8.

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  • Huevos rancheros at Salpicon in Chicago, IL

    One bite of this candy-red sauce and I’m almost convinced it’s prime tomato season. Another bite of perfect black beans, tender tortillas and over-easy eggs and I know it’s just prime ¡Salpicon! $10.

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  • Huevos Rancheros Rojos at Frontera Grill in Chicago, IL

    Huevos rancheros rojos at Frontera Grill Putting the Bayless empire up against humble taquerias is a David and Goliath move, but you’ll side with the big guy once you taste the oh-so-soft housemade tortillas, the orange-yolked farm eggs and the beautiful blistered tomato sauce. $11.

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  • Quiche at The Publican in Chicago, IL

    These slices, flanked by a citrus salad, are light on filling (often veggies, sometimes smoked fish or bacon). That leaves opportunity aplenty to appreciate the dark, crumbly, buttery crust. $10

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    Quiche at Milk & Honey Cafe in Chicago, IL

    “Om muh gauf!” (Translation: “Oh, my God!” with quiche in my mouth.) This quiche is at least two inches thick, and the cauliflower, leek and Swiss cheese (fillings change daily) combine for a savory symphony. $3.50

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    Market Quiche at 2 Sparrows in Chicago, IL

    The vegetable combos (mushrooms and leeks, on my visit) in these majestic slices change often; the fluffy, airy structure is the same every time. $10.

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  • Quiche at Tre Kronor in Chicago, Il

    My favorite of the four kinds usually available here packs more smoked salmon into a triangle of custard than I ever thought possible, topping it off with a layer of dill and encasing it in a butter-rich crust. $8.95.

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  • Quiche at Floriole Cafe & Bakery in Chicago, IL

    The word quiche seems too pedestrian to describe this rich, smooth egg custard teamed with locally sourced vegetables, quality cheeses and, occasionally, meats (the selection changes daily). The puff pastry shell crumbles into a million buttery flakes. $6.

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  • Short Rib "Eggs Benedict" at Sprout in Chicago, IL

    In this deconstructed dish, fried green tomatoes stand in for English muffins, thick drizzles of red-wine reduction steal the show from hollandaise and short ribs are so fall-apart rich you don’t even want bread. $18.

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    BLT Eggs Benedict at Old Town Social in Chicago, IL

    The B: pork belly. The L: arugula (yeah, kind of a stretch). The T: tomato hollandaise. What the acronym doesn’t describe is the perfect balance of each layer, bookended by a supple poached egg and fluffy biscuit. $9.

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    Big Jones Benedict at Big Jones in Chicago, IL

    Housemade lard biscuits come topped with poached eggs and a distinctive cured- and smoked-in-house ham, simmered in Kilgus Farmstead cream and cut into thick slices. $13

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  • Lemon Crab-and-Shrimp Cake Benedict at M Henrietta in Chicago, IL

    The base is brioche, and yet this Benedict feels light. Chalk that up to the bright lemon notes in the hollandaise, and the crab-and-shrimp cake atop the bread. (Even pan-fried seafood is lighter than pork.) $11.95.

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    Eggs Benedict at The Bristol in Chicago, IL

    The smoked ham on this Benedict is thick-cut and tender, but it’s the pungent edge of mustard hollandaise that takes the dish over the top. $11.

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    Breakfast Sandwich at Balsan in Chicago, IL

    O, modestly sized croissant, fluffy scrambled eggs, subtle Comté / How nice to eat you and still have room for sugar-dusted doughnuts / I’ll be back to see you soon. $19, includes salumi, cheese and pastry board.

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    Bagel Sandwich at Nightwood in Chicago, IL

    Fans of smoked fish cannot hope for more in life than this sandwich, in which Rushing Waters smoked trout cream cheese is smeared on a bagel and topped with bacon and an over-easy egg. $13.

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  • pork liver terrine at Jam in Chicago, IL

    Rich liver, sweet onion jam and sprightly cabbage: unexpected ingredients that cure breakfast-sandwich fatigue. Here, they’re served open-face on a pretzel baguette. $12.

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  • Fried Bologna Sandwich at Hearty Restaurant in Chicago, IL

    Band-Aid–flavored meat between gummy bread? Hearty’s version bullies that brown-bag disaster with thick, smoky bologna and a fried egg. Add a kaiser roll slicked with an egg wash and you’ve officially graduated from Oscar Mayer. $9.50.

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  • egg sandwich at Sola Restaurant in Chicago, IL

    With a pile of arugula, this sandwich feels guilt-free. Over-easy eggs are light, crispy bacon offers texture, and fluffy goat cheese brings it all together. $10 Illustration: Andy Mora

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    hangover breakfast at The Bristol in Chicago, IL

    When you can’t hack another pancake stack, order this: pleasingly chewy housemade durum-wheat noodles, pickled veggies including mustard greens and ramps, a poached egg and tender pork belly all swimming in an umami-laced, spicy broth. $11.

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    Belly Sandwich at 2 Sparrows in Chicago, IL

    One bite of this decadent belly, topped with an oozy egg and mellow pickled onions, and it clicks: This isn’t so different from ham or bacon, two beloved breakfast meats. Except that it’s thicker, juicier and way better suited to a home between two halves of a fluffy, secret-recipe biscuit. (Oh, how I’m still dreaming about that biscuit. And the four, golf ball–size tater tots on the side.) $10.

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    Red Velvet Breakfast Dog at Hearty Restaurant in Chicago, IL

    Eating sweet dough–wrapped sausage for breakfast isn’t a new concept (see: Dunkin’ Donuts Pancake Bites, Jimmy Dean Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick), but this version won’t leave you with a belly full of grease and regret. A thin layer of red-velvet cake encases an enormous Big Fork bacon sausage, which you can dip in maple syrup. A side of scrambled eggs thickened with cream cheese reminds you you’re at brunch, not the state fair. $9.50

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    Breakfast Poutine at Bite Cafe in Chicago , Il

    The devious minds behind this adorable Ukrainian Village spot think they can throw a couple of perfectly runny poached eggs on top of poutine—crisp fries, gooey cheese curds and smoked bacon gravy—and call it breakfast? Yes, they can. In fact, they could call it dessert and I’d still eat it any time of the day. $10.

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    Soft Scrambled Egg at Jam in Chicago, IL

    Order the decadent, caviar-topped soft scrambled egg on crisp toast points.

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    Malted Custard French Toast at Jam in Chicago, IL

    Try the crunchy-sweet, eggy French toast at Jam.

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  • Smoked Ham Omelette at Jam in Chicago, IL

    Don't leave Jam without picking up the pastry of the day, which changes daily.

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    Bananas Foster French Toast at Old Town Social in Chicago, IL

    Pair with a side of the crispy hash brown casserole.

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    Eggs Sardou at Old Town Social in Chicago, IL

    Order a side of beignets to complement the perfectly poached Eggs Sardou. Photo: Joe Bankmann

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    French Toast at Perennial Virant in Chicago, IL

    Pair the sweet, custardy French toast with the grilled house-smoked bacon.

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  • Seared Steak with Home Fries at Perennial Virant in Chicago, IL

    For a sweet and savory pairing, order the sticky bun to follow the salty. savory steak and potatoes.

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    Truffle Shandy at Sprout in Chicago, IL

    I was perfectly pleased sipping Sprout’s Afternoon Delight (fernet, basil, fennel, yum)—until I tasted my boyfriend’s shandy: vodka, hard cider and truffle honey syrup, finished by a zillion lemon slices floating in the glass like little rays of sunshine. They brightened the drink and my mood, which always improves when I can pretend it’s summer. $9. Photo: Brendan Lekan

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    Mexican Holiday at 2 Sparrows in Chicago, IL

    Here, all parts—cocoa tequila, espresso liqueur, cinnamon and Cholula—balance perfectly, with the coffee adding depth, not bitterness. $10. Photo: Brendan Lekan

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    Buster Brown at C-House Restaurant in Chicago, IL

    Apparently, whiskey is undesirable at brunching hours, when clear spirits rule. C-House comes to the rescue by offering its dinner drinks at brunch, too. Bourbon (softened by a cinnamon-vanilla-cherry infusion), amaretto and sweet vermouth go down just as smoothly as they did the night before. $13. Photo: Brendan Lekan

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    Negroni di Aquila at Longman & Eagle in Chicago, IL

    Longman doesn’t so much twist as tug this classic cocktail into something that’s better suited for the early hours, subbing mellow Aperol for Campari, introducing effervescence with prosecco and shoving gin out of the picture. $8. Photo: Brendan Lekan

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    La Bastarda at Tiny Lounge in Chicago, IL

    Combining a mimosa, Bloody Mary, Bellini and margarita into one cocktail sounds like an idea we would have proclaimed genius the night before brunch. Yet talented bartenders make this concept work, producing a “bastardized” cocktail that’s fruity (orange juice), aromatic (basil) and doused with just enough tequila to make us want another. $9. Photo: Brendan Lekan

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    Pepino el Pyu at Mercadito Chicago in Chicago, IL

    The cumin salt rimming this cucumber-laced tequila drink will smack any hangover to the curb. Though it’s the hoja santa, or “sacred leaf,” that’s the stuff of legend, says Tad Carducci, part of the New York duo that crafted Mercadito’s cocktail list: According to Mexican lore, Mary dried Jesus’s diapers on the plant. Here, bartenders make it into a syrup to add an herbal finish to each sip. $11.50. Photo: Brendan Lekan

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    Matty's Brunch Punch at Perennial Virant in Chicago, IL

    A $6 cocktail? I watched Perennial’s bartender to see if he was pouring from a premade pitcher. Nope. He attended to each glass as if it were his firstborn, blending vodka and housemade pear puree (ingredients change often) with precision. This might be the best booze deal in town. $6. Photo: Brendan Lekan

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