Chicago hands down has the best brunch. NYC definitely tries hard but seems to be more about the booze than the food and is more your standard diner fare. Chicago is all about the creativity and the noms. So with 2 weeks in Chicago, my friend Brae and I decided to tackle the Chicago brunch scene.
My Brunch “Rules”:
- DO make a reservation! Brunch places fill up quick, especially on the weekends. Reservations are a major do so you guarantee your spot.
- DO go early. If you can’t get a reservation, try to go when the restaurant opens or before 10, when you’ll start to get crowds.
- DON’T go with more than 2 people (unless you have a reservation). Restaurants tend to jam in all the tables possible and there are more 2 seaters than 4 so you’re more likely to be able to get in with just 2 people.
- DO share items. Until they come up with a tapas style brunch spot, you’ll have to share dishes with friends to try out different things. Feel free to order a side or two entrees so you can try out different things. My favorite is to order a side of pancakes “for the table”.
- DON’T go crazy with the booze. Don’t get me wrong, I love a boozy brunch. But I hate going through the hangover stage in the middle of the day. Aside from my takeout & rooftop mimosas, all of my brunches were completely sober which allowed me to enjoy the company, food & relax rather than party it up (that and work later on).
Now here’s the tour:
Location: Multiple locations around Chicago as well as Dallas, Fort Worth & Indianapolis
Ordered: Pot Roast Benedict which came with fruit (more than your typical honeydew & grapes) + potatoes (so-so)
My Take: Delicious! The pot roast was so tender and worked well with the runny poached egg. It felt like a combo dinner & brunch and the pot roast was total comfort food.
South Water Kitchen
Ordered: Three Egg Omelet filled with ham, cheese and lots of veggies. Shredded hash browns on the side (my fave) but they were over salted the day I ate there.
My Take: Delicious! Nothing too fancy but patio dining is a plus and there never seems to be a wait at this Loop spot. Also, their Boston Cream French Toast is TO. DIE. FOR. I’ve only ever stolen bites of my husband’s but if you’re in the mood for sin, this is it.
Location: River North
Ordered: Greek Omelet
My Take: My least favorite of the brunch places. The omelet was definitely missing some meat (gyro meat would be amazing). The coffee is $5, and although it’s Metropolis (one of my fave Chicago coffees), I thought that was a little overpriced – it’s drip coffee!
Location: West Loop
Ordered: Jonah crab scramble + baguette and bacon for the table
My Take: First of all, the décor is awesome. You’ve either got long communal tables or booths with doors. We got one of the booths and I loved the privacy of the doors. The scramble was delicious. The baguette came out fresh from the oven and HOT.
This place didn’t exist when I lived in Chicago circa 2010 and is a very popular Loop spot. There are always large crowds waiting outside and even though it’s on the NoWait app, it’s often a 60 minute wait (!!!!). So we opted for takeout which we ate on my corporate apartment’s 6th floor terrace with some mimosas.
Ordered: Southern Benedict, Rutherford omelet, Butcher Block skillet, Signature Berry Bliss pancakes, Brioche French Toast, & Fruity Pebble Pancakes (off the Kids Menu)
My Take: Everything was delicious except for the French toast which I found disappointing. The Signature Berry Bliss pancakes are a signature for a reason – so good!
Location: Lincoln Park & Roscoe Village
Ordered: Omelet No. 5, Frushi, Pancake Flight & of course orange coffee
My Take: Orange is definitely one of my favorite brunch institutions. They’re known for their Frushi which is sushi made out of fruit. They also have a pancake flight that changes every week. This time we got the Stone Fruit flight to share. I preferred 2 of the 4 pancakes, with 1 I really didn’t care for. The omelet was great and the side potatoes were also delicious. They’re also known for their orange flavored coffee which I love.
Ordered: Summer Squash & Kale omelet with the Bread Pudding pancakes and grown-up pop tart to share
My Take: I’m still dreaming about the grown up pop tart. With creamy mascarpone cheese and berries, it was incredible. I wasn’t a fan of the cinnamon topping on the pancakes so they were not as great as I was expecting. The omelet was very good and I loved the side of mashed potatoes!
Location: River North
Ordered: Benedict Flight
My Take: This Southern BBQ restaurant offers a delicious flight of 3 of their benedicts – chicken w/ cornbread, brisket w/ biscuit & pulled pork w/ fried green tomato. My favorite was the brisket on top of the cheddar chive biscuit with my least favorite being the cornbread. It was too sweet for me but the smoked chicken on top was delicious.
Location: Lincoln Park & Bucktown
I didn’t visit Toast during the official Tour de Brunch but I have to list it because it is one of my absolute favorite brunch places. I used to live around the corner and went pretty frequently. They’re known for their stuffed French toast which is incredible. I love the mascarpone flavor and will usually get the orgy which includes berries, granola and all the delicious.