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Chicago Brunch: Fun, Flavorful and Inspired Food and Drink



Chicago restaurants have noticed that locals love brunch so every week there's a new spot adding the weekend meal to its roster. In fact, you could have brunch once a week for a year straight and still have plenty of places you still want to try. 

We could write a book about myriad brunch options in Chicago, so consider these 10 restaurants a smart start, sure bets and different enough so that you won't be bored. Funkenhausen serves German/Southern dishes, freshly made pastries and an endless supply of $6 Mimosas and Andersonville's m.henry may be the model brunch eatery serving globally inspired spins on the popular meal.

Why wait for the weekend? Cafe Robey will serve you a Montreal style bagel with lox; pastries; pancakes; omelets; and biscuits and gravy seven days a week and MAD Social adds summer Fridays to year-round weekend brunch.  If you like atmosphere with your Aperol Spritz, you can't beat Shore Club (right on North Ave. beach) or the lovely outdoor patio at Aba. Brunch is worlds more than eggs and pancakes in Chicago. Order the full Irish breakfast at The Gage; Greek meze and spreads at Avli Taverna in Lincoln Park; or eggy, rich Carbonara at Logan Square's Saba Italian Kitchen + Bar. Each spot offers creative drinks ensuring an afternoon nap is in your future. 

 

 

 


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10
Fulton Market


Known for inspired Mediterranean food and spirits, an expansive rooftop patio and airy dining room, Aba just added brunch to its menu of delights. Chef CJ Jacobson creates shareable brunch dishes like Short Rib Shakshuka with spicy harissa, fingerling potatoes and poached egg alongside Aba signatures like the wonderful house-made pita bread to dunk into Spicy Hummus, Charred Eggplant, and Whipped Feta with pistachio, lemon and olive oil. The Smoked Salmon Spread & Jerusalem Bagel is a feast for eyes and belly. Eating lighter these days? Go for Peaches & Feta with rose water, black pepper, opal basil, shiso and mint or Grilled Klug Farms Asparagus with poached egg, anchovy, green garlic and bread crumbs. Complement victuals with a Rhubarb Spritz or Harissa Bloody Mary.

Recommended for Brunch because: Creative Mediterranean food and spirits, a lovely rooftop patio and airy dining room are all the elements of a memorable Chicago brunch.

Jacky's expert tip: Reservations are accepted for the dining room but the patio is first-come, first-serve so get there early if your heart is set on brunching outdoors.

Read more about Aba →




MAD Social is a popular pick for those anxious about making it in time for the puck drop or a concert at the United Center but brunch gives locals and visitors another reason to head to the West Loop. In fact, the eatery just launched a Summer Friday Brunch service (11am-3pm) with the full brunch menu and Bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys (11am-2pm) on Friday's all summer long. Enjoy brunch inside or on the dog-friendly patio with Wifi for a working meal. Whether on a summer Friday or year-round weekends, there are attractive choices like short rib Benedict; buttermilk pancakes with salted caramel whipped butter and fresh berries; and chicken & waffles made with a churro waffle, chicken breast Milanese, hot sauce, crisp pork belly and maple syrup. You can get "small plates" elsewhere: portion sizes here ensure that you won't leave hungry while paying neighborhood prices.

Recommended for Brunch because: A globally inspired menu with twists on traditional brunch favorites ensures that there is something for everyone at MAD Social.

Jacky's expert tip: Be sure to say "hi" to owner Gina Stefani (of Chicago's famed Stefani restaurants) who greets guests and makes them feel at home.

Read more about MAD Social →




Logan Square is rife with restaurants offering brunch, but don't overlook Saba's Italian Kitchen + Bar for a vast array of freshly-made-in-house choices. You can go breakfast-y with bestsellers like Eggs Benedict (poached eggs, prosciutto, arugula, house hollandaise with Parmesan potatoes); lemon ricotta pancakes; and banana waffles (cookie butter, bananas, Nutella). Trying to stick to a diet? There's an egg white omelet stuffed with avocado, tomato, goat cheese, grilled onion, vibrant salads and a nice bowl of berry-studded yogurt. If you lean towards lunch-y flavors, start with antipasti like arancini, meatballs or mussels then continue with a burger, BLT, or any of a half-dozen pasta dishes. Carbonara is breakfast transformed by way to peppered bacon, Mascarpone cheese, butter glaze, egg yolk and chives. Sip a classic Aperol Spritz, an icy draft or a Hair of the Dogma with vodka, Fernet Dogma, Lucano caffe and Metric® cold brew.

Recommended for Brunch because: The modern Italian eatery offers a boatload of sweet and savory brunch options, spot-on friendly service and creative Italian sodas.

Jacky's expert tip: If you haven't tried an Italian cream soda, Saba's is the place. They include fruit, herbs, sorbet or gelato - with or without alcohol.

Read more about Saba Italian Bar + Kitchen →


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7
Lincoln Park


Chef/Owner Louie Alexakis has lit a culinary fire for Greek fare in Chicago and weekend brunch at Avli Taverna is an exciting spread of meze, grains, eggs, interesting salads and pita sliders stuffed with Greek chicken, grass-fed lamb or veg and Feta. Traditional Greek bread (similar to brioche) makes hearty French toast and you can build your own bowl of thick, creamy Greek yogurt with berries, nuts, honey, Greek preserves and granola. At least one person in your party should order Hortopita & Eggs (two poached eggs served inside warm wild green pie) but then there's also meze for sharing: tomato fritters; zucchini chips, saganaki; and Katafi prawns. Expect plenty of veg-based options, fresh bread to torpedo into rich spreads and meaty items from ouzo salmon to shish kabob. Your dietician, nutritionist, doctor, guru or mother will approve of brunching Mediterranean style at Avli.

Recommended for Brunch because: The contemporary Greek restaurant situated on a tree-lined corner in Lincoln Park offers wholesome Mediterranean options with walloping flavor.

Jacky's expert tip: On sweltering days, cool off with one of Avli's house-made frozen specialty drinks like Frozitis and Mastica Lemonade.

Read more about Avli Taverna →




During the week, friends, tourists and coworkers eagerly gather at The Gage for the wide selection of beer and fine Scotch as well as hearty food. The excellence continues on the weekend. The recently overhauled brunch food and cocktail menu include Emerald Isle-inspired options like homemade corned beef hash with poached eggs; Gage Scotch Egg; fish 'n' chips; or a full Irish breakfast with eggs, back bacon, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, house-made sausages and brown bread. Health conscious brunchers will go for any of six substantial salads or flavorful fava bean falafel. The rest of us will sample Jamaican Pork Benedict; an egg battered Monte Cristo; house poutine; PBR fried pickles; lobster roll; or the Gage Venison Burger. To moisten the pipes there are Gage classic Old Fashioneds and Habanero Margaritas, a long craft draft list plus Brunch Punch and Tangerine Mimosas.

Recommended for Brunch because: Set in a historic building across from Millennium Park, The Gage offers unique brunch options, an extensive scotch and draft beer roster and efficient, friendly service.

Jacky's expert tip: Have that house-made pastry because you can take a stroll through Millennium Park, just across the street from The Gage.

Read more about The Gage →




Awarded seven consecutive Michelin Bib Gourmand from 2013 through 2019., Jam is brunch nirvana. The popular Logan Square breakfast, brunch and lunch spot features locally grown and sustainable ingredients whenever possible in its ever-changing seasonal menu. Count on staples like Hot Chicken and Waffle, quiche and the Malted Custard French Toast with macerated stonefruit, lime leaf cream and pink peppercorns. Savory options include various sandwiches, Beef & Polenta, Lamb Crepe with sunny egg and Smoked Salmon. Try a Spanish omelet with Spanish chorizo, melted onions, piquillo peppers, white anchovy (optional), pico de gallo, and cornbread or house smoked salmon with poached eggs, potoato-leek hash, fennel slaw and Bearnaise. There's a kids' menu, too. During the summer months, the Logan Square Farmers Market is practically right outside the door so grab some fresh produce after breakfast.

Recommended for Brunch because: Jam has nabbed seven consecutive Michelin Bib Gourmand from 2013 through 2019.

Jacky's expert tip: There is metered street parking nearby but the Blue Line subway line is just a couple of blocks away.

Read more about Jam →


4
Lincoln Park


Can you get a good avocado toast elsewhere for less? You bet. Will you have this unequaled view at any other brunch spot? That's a definite "no." Situated right on North Ave beach, Shore Club Shore Club is open for lunch, dinner, Happy Hour and weekend brunch, including dishes like The Shore Club (a ridiculously large three-decker deal), Salsa Verde Chilaquiles, Boston Cream French Toast, a crepe and omelet station plus Lobster or Beef Tenderloin Benedicts. New in 2019 is an expanded, revamped patio as well as additions to its food and tropical-focused drink menus. For-the-table options include Salmon Ceviche and a Mykonos Board with chunks of roasted chicken breast, vegetarian dolmas, flambéed Halloumi cheese, lemon cucumber dip and pita. Sip a Spritzicle; a frozen take on an Aperol Spritz made with Aperol, fresh orange juice, sparkling wine and fresh citrus.

Recommended for Brunch because: You're paying a little extra for the real estate, but who wouldn't want to brunch right on the beach?

Jacky's expert tip: Getting there can be confusing so, tell your cab or Uber driver to take you to the drop off for North Ave beach.

Read more about Shore Club →


3
Andersonville


This Andersonville neighborhood favorite is beloved for its new American-style breakfasts, fresh bakery, charming setting, and its use of locally sourced and organic food. While other brunch menus are serving the obligatory eggs and avocado toast, summer at m.henry brings Shrimp and Corncake Benedict w/ Greens Salad; Mango Sour Cherry Blisscakes; Japanese Souffle Pancakes w/Berries and Créme; and Smoked Salmon Roulade w/Sundried Tomato Hollandaise. The flavors of fall are revealed in items like Sweet Potato Flapjacks w/Apple Cider Syrup; Rustic Peasant Quiche; and Pumpkin Pecan Hotcakes w/maple mascarpone, among many others. Bestsellers include Fannies Killer Fried Egg Sandwich; any kind of Blisscakes; Latina Chicken Vegetable Soup; and m.henry's Jerk Chicken Empanada. Order an extra pastry to take home because you're saving money on liquor - m.henry is BYOB.

Recommended for Brunch because: A longtime neighborhood favorite, m.henry may be the model brunch eatery serving globally inspired spins on brunch fare.

Jacky's expert tip: The sweet neighborhood cafe/bakery/market also offers fantastic vegetarian and vegan breakfast and lunch items throughout the week (7a.m.-2: 30 p.m.)

Read more about m.henry →




In our work and the leisure-fluid world, why should brunch be relegated strictly to the weekend? Cafe Robey, a Wicker Park restaurant located inside The Robey hotel, serves brunch seven days a week (7 am to 2 pm; Saturday-Sunday until 3 pm). Slip into a comfy banquette as a peppy music mix and sun seeping through surrounding windows lifts spirits. The seasonal menu lists healthy options like a Breakfast Salad and a hearty Grain Bowl filled with veg and herbs; a Montreal style bagel with lox; pastries; and befitting breakfast items - Benedict, pancakes; omelets; biscuits and gravy. Have some fun and try duck hash; soft shell crab po' boy; Cuban sandwich; or trout with spring peas. A Sage Advice cocktail or Colectivo coffee will smack you silly depending upon which way you want to roll that day. There's an extensive tea menu; fresh juices; and a compact yet satisfying beer and wine roster.

Recommended for Brunch because: Cafe Robey is effortlessly cool without a smidge of pretension or an air of trying too hard. And it serves brunch seven days a week.

Jacky's expert tip: Post-brunch, browse the neighborhood's unique vintage shops, boutiques, book and record stores.

Read more about Cafe Robey →


1
West Town


Just the name, Funkenhausen, connotes, well - fun. But the West Town restaurant is no Disneyesque gimmick. The space is elegantly casual and Executive Chef Mark Steuer mixes a magical Southern American/German culinary alchemy in the kitchen inspired by his Charleston roots and Teutonic family heritage. The wine/stein dine FunkenBrunchen ensues Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm.: try southern riffs like Ham Biscuit (ham, egg and pimento beer cheese Mornay); jammy Jonnycakes; and shrimp & grits. Or go heartier with Germanic options like Thuringer sausage, smoked potato salad, ramps, sunny egg; Spaetzle Carbonara; or a Hot Schnitz Sandwich. Healthy items include a plate of local, seasonal fruit and a Brunch Salad. "Haus" made pastry changes weekly and Mimosa Service includes a never-ending supply of $6 mimosas. Sturdy Metric coffee, cocktails and an impressive list of German beer make it all just about perfect.

Recommended for Brunch because: Set in a historic West Town building, Funkenhausen presents an inspired menu of German/Southern dishes, freshly made pastries and an endless supply of $6 Mimosas.

Jacky's expert tip: Bring little Hans and Heidi who get their own menu of buttered spaetzle, a bowl of creamy grits with egg or Johnnycakes.

Read more about Funkenhausen →


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Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky

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