Chicago’s specialties are well-known the world over, from celery salt-topped hot dogs to carb-heavy deep-dish pizza. But before dinner rolls around, it’s worth scouting out brunch in the Windy City. Restaurants serve plenty of hearty Midwest fare, from egg dishes stuffed with cheese and pork to French toast piled high with mascarpone and chocolate. But there are also vegetarian, organic and local options aplenty, served in rooms splashed with artsy, sustainable décor to match the progressive cuisine. Plus, since nights out here are legendary (Chicago is one of the few U.S. cities to stay open into the early morning hours), inventive cocktails are designed to remedy a rough morning after.
There are a number of reasons to recommend this local favorite, including a selection of fresh seafood—the brunch oysters are not to be missed—and a housemade Bloody Mary that comes paired with a beer of choice. But no trip is complete without giving into the house specialty: pork. The locally sourced, organic ingredient graces everything from pho to pâté to a bollito misto brimming with maple sausage, corned beef heart, pork belly and a poached egg. Naturally, pork rinds also make an appearance. Even the décor is pig-themed. So grab a seat and prepare to, well, pork out.
Logan Square is Chicago’s hub for all things cool, and this brunch spot is one of the area’s restaurants du jour. Highbrow and lowbrow are balanced to delicious effect; dishes feature fancy ingredients and beautiful plating, but are also relatively affordable and messy in the best kind of way. A daily changing menu keeps things fresh, while regular favorites such as chicken and waffles and malted custard French toast (soaked to perfection overnight in a sweet malting liquid and then cooked sous-vide before serving) have earned the loyalty of locals. Mod geometric décor makes for an inviting ambience inside. Or, on sunny days, dine al fresco on the patio.
Also in trendy Logan Square, this restaurant is appropriately hipster-friendly. Art exhibits spotlight the cutting-edge photography and paintings of local artists, and chefs work with a list of local purveyors to source chocolate, seafood, coffee, tea and more. Naturally, the menu is rife with healthy and vegetarian options, including buckwheat granola with fresh apples, Green yogurt and picked golden raisins. The cocktail menu is hangover-ready: The beermosa, with white ale, orange juice and Lillet French wine, makes the most of its three excellent ingredients.
Nursing a sweet tooth? This cozy brunch spot serves some of the city’s best sugar-laden delicacies, including fresh fruit tarts, flaky cinnamon rolls, blackberry topped hotcakes and brioche French toast with vanilla crème. Everything is baked and prepped in-house daily using local, fresh ingredients. Salty options, from a shallot and leek omelet to a vegan tofu scramble, are also farm-to-fork sourced. Even the coffee abides by this philosophy: Organic, fair trade beans are micro-roasted locally. The décor, featuring reused doors and windows, brings sustainability into the design as well.
This restaurant dubs its brunch menu "sinful," and appropriately so. For the signature chocolate tower French toast, maple mascarpone is layered between thick slices of bittersweet chocolate-chunk bread, capped with fresh bananas and shaved chocolate, and surrounded with a pool of banana crème brulee sauce. Equally decadent are the white chocolate and caramel-pretzel pancakes, a common special. Even the drinks are so bad they’re good—mimosas are sweetened with flavors such as pear, mango, raspberry and grapefruit, and the orange creamsicle turns the childhood treat into a rich and satisfying morning beverage.