13 Of The Best Brunch Spots In Chicago
By Anthony Todd in Food on Nov 20, 2015 3:46PM
Brunch might just be our favorite meal of the week. It's the only time you can eat dessert as your main dish, day drink without guilt and eat all of the hollandaise sauce you can shove into your mouth. Lots of us get into a rut, going to the same few spots in our neighborhood over and over. Here are 13 amazing brunch spots (not to be confused with our list of the best breakfasts in Chicago), including everything from a decadent hotel buffet to a Korean barbecue joint, all over the city and the suburbs.
By Anthony Todd and Jennifer Olvera
Shrimp and grits at Big Jones
Between Check, Please and his amazing new Southern cookbook, Paul Fehribach is on fire. Which is why it's great to know that, unlike dinner (which is usually packed) brunch at Big Jones is a relatively calm affair. That's great, because where else in the city can you get five kinds of homemade breads and the best shrimp and grits in the city? Heritage recipes, like "Eugene's Breakfast in Mobile, circa 1930," (a combination of catfish, golden rice, fried plantains and black beans) are unique - you won't find food like this anywhere else.
Big Jones is at 5347 N. Clark St.
We've put Gather our brunch list before, and it just keeps getting better and better. Chef Ken Carter is the rare chef who actually seems to like brunch - he's always in the kitchen on Sunday mornings, dishes are creative (even the standard breakfast skillet always has a delicious twist) and they've got a brunch burger that will blow your socks off. The chicken and waffles, topped with miso butter, are decadent and savory/sweet, and their donuts are enough to put you into a sugar coma. Plus, hands down, Gather has the very best breakfast potatoes in town. We dare you to eat just one.
Gather is at 4539 N. Lincoln Ave.
Don Pedro Carnitas
There’s nothing easy about navigating Don Pedro Carnitas, a cash-only Pilsen institution, which attracts a post-mass crowd for by-the-pound meats (at the counter to the left) and piled-high trays of chicharrón (to the right). The nofrills, fluorescent-lit dining room in back demands that you part the lines in order to grab a seat — and that’s no easy feat. While it’s known for its namesake pork, our money’s on the succulent barbacoa, which is fall-apart-tender from stewing in its own juices. An order includes bowls of excellent pico de gallo; cilantro and onions; pickled jalapenos and carrots; and standout, taqueria-style salsas, all of which get stuffed into warm tortillas with heaps of your chosen meat. On Sunday mornings, a street-side stand helps relieve some — though not all — of the grab-and-go congestion.
Don Pedro Carnitas is at 1113 W. 18th St.
Braised pheasant with crepes at North Pond
It's not often you can get a Michelin-starred brunch—and it's even rarer to get it at a bargain. We didn't even realize North Pond had a brunch menu until recently, and it's made it onto the regular rotation. For $34, you get to choose three courses, and, honestly, they're about the same size as normal dishes at North Pond for dinner (which would cost you upwards of $75). The superstars are the desserts, which on our last visit included a caramel apple bombe with granny smith ice cream and an unlikely-sounding (but delicious) tart made of pumpkin-spiced Kabocha squash served with sage sherbet. If you're looking for a super-classy, relaxing brunch, this is your best bet.
North Pond is at 2610 N. Cannon Dr.
Face it: the brunch menu at Davanti Enoteca is filled with your favorite things: customized platters of cheese and salumi; a board of creamy mascarpone polenta, ladled tableside with a topping of rich ragu; a mini mason jar of ricotta and local honeycomb for spreading on grilled Tuscan toast. Of course, traditionalists aren’t left in the cold, thanks to corned beef hash and wagyu hanger steak with eggs and country-style potatoes. Add that to the fact that the rustic interior with its warm wood and brick is the perfect place for kicking back over a guilt-free morning glass of vino or craft cocktail.
Davanti Enoteca is at 1359 W. Tailor St., 30 E. Hubbard St., and 800 Hillgrove Ave, Western Springs
Autre Monde Café & Spirits
Don’t let the unlikely Berwyn setting fool you: petite, welcoming Autre Monde Café & Spirits — set in a sunny storefront along Roosevelt Road — is as good as it gets. This Mediterranean-inflected labor of love from chefs Beth Partridge and Dan Pancake delivers proof in the form of chicken sausage Vesuvio with foccacia and over-easy eggs; poofy scrambled eggs laced with black truffle; and fried chicken and chestnut pancakes. Wash it all down with a seasonal bev — like a blood orange gimlet — or glass of wine from the boutique list.
Autre Monde Café & Spirits is at 6727 Roosevelt Rd.
Just the desserts (just the desserts!) at Sixteen.
OK, a $70 brunch isn't for everyone. But once in a while, you just need to go completely crazy, and when you do, Sixteen is the place to do it. Their decadent brunch buffet includes piles of crab legs, carving stations, sushi, desserts, omelettes made to order, benedicts, salads, shrimp cocktail—if you want to eat it, you can probably pile it on your plate (and, if you want to get the best value, possibly in the hidden pockets of your jacket, not that we would suggest that.) The price includes a mimosa, so sip some bubbles and gaze out on the amazing view.
Sixteen is at 401 N. Wabash Ave.
San Soo Gab San
More than a place for late-night revelry, San Soo Gab San does Korean barbecue right come 10 a.m. each weekend morn. The sparse setting with its wood paneling and tabletop grills won’t woo you, but the vast array of panchan and the smoky scent emanating from the DIY cooking process undoubtedly will. Top props go to the bulgogi and kalbi, which are best alongside hangover-abating soju, though you can get kitchen-prepped dumplings, scallion pancakes, sushi and stews, too.
San Soo Gab San is at 5247 N. Western Ave. and 7901 Golf Rd., Morton Grove
If you don't live in the South Loop, you might have missed this spot, which quietly opened earlier this year. They're known for their incredible beer list (and for probably having more edison bulbs than any other restaurant in the city), but their brunch is a secret standout. First off, they've got a custom-brewed beer made just for them that tastes like a bloody mary. No, it's not some mixed gimmick—the beer actually has all the flavors of tomato, celery and spice, in a subtle concoction that we couldn't stop drinking.They've got a great oyster po'boy and a perfect pork scrapple (which you don't often see on a menu).
Villains is at 730 S. Clark St.
Everyone is quick to point to Manny’s Deli for corned beef sammies, but there’s another sheriff in town named Schmaltz. This small strip pit stop offers a dizzying array of hand-helds, the most notable of which is the Sloppy Paul, an overstuffed concoction of pastrami on plush marble rye with Swiss sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Depending on how early you arrive, though, the cheery staff may point you to the breakfast menu alone; mind you, this isn’t a bad thing since its toothsome bagels are stuffed with the likes of salami and eggs, and there’s challah French toast and eggs scrambled with matzo, served alongside a piping-hot latke with house-cured beef schmacon.
Schmaltz Deli is at Tower Crossing Associates, 1512 N. Naper Blvd., Naperville
Pastries at Cellar Door Provisions. Photo via Facebook.
Cellar Door Provisions
This tiny Logan Square bakery cafe turns out of some of the most beautiful and delicate plates in town. We're addicted to the "staff meal," a simple plate of greens, bread, butter and a soft boiled egg - but the most perfect possible version of each of those things. If you're looking for something more substantial, go for the smoked trout with sweet potatoes. And no matter what you do, take home a loaf of bread.
Cellar Door Provisions is at 3025 W. Diversey.
Uncle Mike's Place
Entering Uncle Mike’s Place is like being embraced in a warm, cozy hug. Its comforting Filipino eats only further that theme. Whether you settle on anise-spiked longaniza sausage, tocino (annatto and anise wine-cured pork shoulder) or both, your meal comes with porridge-like lugao topped with frizzles of garlic; garlic fried rice; and two eggs however you please. Not to be overlooked is the vinegary, salsa-like condiment that’s heaven on pretty much everything it tops.
Uncle Mike’s Place is at 1700
W. Grand Ave.
All the jams and butters at Baker Miller.
If you write a best brunch list in Chicago and don't include Baker Miller, you're officially committing a crime against food. Everything at this Lincoln Square bakery/cafe is, well, perfect, from the oatmeal to the pastries to the oh-so-hip toast bar. We never thought oatmeal could change our entire mood before. Then we tried this, made with cultured cream, hot milk, pecans, and cherry jam and lots of love, and things will never be the same. Plus, at their new location, you can get stuffed waffles.
Baker Miller is at 4610 N. Western Ave.