MAD Social | Kailley Lindman Photography/Mad Social
Food & Drink

The Best Brunches in All of Chicago

Updated On 02/06/2018 at 05:09PM EST
Kailley Lindman Photography

Dove's Luncheonette

Wicker Park

Soulful home to mashups of Southern and Mexican cuisine
What this intimate all-day diner lacks in square footage, it makes up for with bold and hearty Tex-Mex fare. The buttermilk-fried chicken blanketed in punchy chorizo verde gravy is equal parts hangover cure and deep-fried bliss, and it pairs well with the Dark Matter Coffee house blend or a the mezcal-based Coco & Rico, if a little hair of the dog strikes your fancy. And for the not-so-basic basic set: toast topped with golden beet yogurt, maple-bourbon-cured salmon, Honeycrisp apples, red onion, and a lemon-dill vinaigrette, because avocado is so last year.

Kailley Lindman Photography/Mad Social

MAD Social

West Loop

Amazing breakfast options in a warm, wood-paneled space
MAD Social's pancakes might just be the best in Chicago, and you really aren't going to want to miss out on these airy, salted caramel whipped butter-topped babies. There's also an impressive lineup of savory eats, like Korean-style short rib Benedict, shakshuka, and an exceptionally photogenic chicken-and-waffles number made with a churro waffle.

Kailley Lindman pHotography

Lula Cafe

Logan Square

A neighborhood favorite staffed by self-taught chefs
A perennial favorite among local chefs and everyday eaters alike, this sunny eatery has long been one of Chicago's brightest brunch stars. The menu changes at the season's whim, but house-made pastries and brioche French toast with Klug Farm apples, white sesame granola, and cardamom anglaise provide a bit of stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction, while the ever-evolving "Royale" breakfast sandwich, which recently featured celery root, parmesan, tomato conserva, and balsamic, tries to redefine the common breakfast sandwich. And succeeds.

The Publican

West Loop

Part farmhouse and part beer hall with plenty of space to sit
The formula at The Publican is simple. Order some fresh oysters, the flavorful smoked Arctic char omelet (dill, crème fraiche, and salmon roe), and the wheat beer mimosa, or the bottomless coffee. You can't go wrong.

Fat Rice

Fat Rice

Logan Square

Where Portuguese and Asian food collide in Logan Square
Go for the namesake arroz gordo brimming with curried chicken, char siu, chili prawns, and clams, and stick around for Macau baked pork chop rice or the Hong Kong-style French toast with peanut butter and banana. And you should absolutely wash it all down with a mango mimosa or the respectable Bloody Mary garnished with house-made pickles.

Nana

Nana

Bridgeport

Proudly organic restaurant in a cozy exposed-brick space
One of Chicago's most prominent organic and sustainable restaurants, Nana still manages to do epic brunch fare like huevos rancheros, grilled shrimp and fried oyster po-boys, and cinnamon-apple pancakes drenched in creme anglaise. As if that wasn't good enough, you can now reserve group tables on weekends there.

Flickr/Drew Baker

Dusek's

Pilsen

Award-winning casual spot known for its Juicy Lucy
With a Michelin star in tow and the note-perfect brunch eats to prove it, this casual concept has anchored Pilsen's burgeoning dining scene. The menu changes regularly, but currently features steak and eggs and French toast loaded with espresso anglaise, winter citrus marmalade, whipped creme fraiche, and hazelnut. If you're more in the mood for lunch, don't miss the Juicy Lucy made with a thick Slagel Family Farm beef patty that's stuffed with American cheese and paired with beef fat fries.

Gather

Lincoln Square

Farm-to-table neighborhood spot focusing on community and Southern flavor
This quiet hideaway offers classic brunch fare done right, with a Southern edge. Try the chicken and waffle with rosemary whipped creme fraiche, caramelized onion puree, honey brittle, smoked Parmigiano, and maple syrup for a comfort food commingling, and wash it down with one of several creative cocktail options, coffee, juice, or a breakfast beer.

Hot Chocolate Chicago

Mindy's Hot Chocolate

Wicker Park

Equally good for its sweets and its titanic burger
Mindy's is one of Damen Ave's brunch heavy-hitters. The rotating cocktail menu, which sometimes includes creations with cold-brew coffee and fresh-squeezed fruits, is perfect for quenching your booze thirst. And the standard brunch fare (French toast, steak & eggs, etc.) and unique seasonal dishes are perfect for quenching pretty much anything else. Their burger is also one of the best in Chicago, by the by.

Flo

West Town

Four words: Fruity Pebbles French toast
Yes, you read that right -- Fruity Pebbles French toast -- which somehow works magnificently and sits on a menu stacked with Mexican fare, too. You can also get your brunch game on with three varieties of Bloody Marys, eight different mimosas, and a breakfast shot with house-made bacon-infused bourbon and butterscotch schnapps with an OJ chaser.

Matthew Gilson

Roister

West Loop

Intimacy doesn't get much closer with this restaurant-in-a-kitchen
It's no secret that this Michelin-starred spot's fried chicken is otherworldly, but thanks to the addition of a supremely fluffy waffle, rich honey butter, and whiskey syrup, its brunch form arguably is its best form. Find a spot at the bustling kitchen bar, and enjoy both the energy and the warmth of the open hearth as you knock back a breakfast-y cocktail, cinnamon toast smeared with foie gras mousse, strawberry jam, and a sprinkling of black pepper, sausage-studded biscuits and gravy with pickled greens, and more.

Julia Weeman

Split-Rail

West Town

Brunch on the most flavorful chicken nuggets you'll find
Stop by one of 2017's top newcomers for chef/owner Zoe Shor's playful take on brunch. Her signature chicken nuggets with honey mustard are a must, and team well with house giardiniera-topped duck confit hash or sultry French toast bread pudding.

Cafe Marie-Jeanne

Humboldt Park

An elegant French spot that also makes a mean burger
With a menu that soars from familiar favorites, like hash browns, pastries, and avocado toast, to the decidedly more eclectic, like caviar toast, a sauteed calf brains-topped breakfast sandwich, and boudin noir, this French spot is a far cry from the usual brunch suspects, and that's exactly what makes it so great. If you miss brunch on weekdays, happy hour starts at 3pm, and its cheeseburger special gets you the burger, a beer, and fries for $20.

Anthony Tahlier

Somerset

Gold Coast

A stacked brunch menu served in exquisitely designed blue-and-gold space
The folks behind Michelin-starred Boka bring serious weekend brunch chops (and seven-days-a-week breakfast!) to the Viagra Triangle. Score garlic sausage hash, a kimchi-aioli topped crispy chicken sandwich, and a bagel and smoked fish plate; round it all out with rum-spike hot chocolate and a Chartreuse marshmallow, because it's the weekend, and you deserve it.

Uncle Mike's Place

West Town

The best place in town for Filipino breakfast
Ditch the American brunch standards for a proper Filipino breakfast at this all-day eatery. The longaniza breakfast features anise wine-cured sweet chorizo with two eggs (any style) and garlic fried rice, while the marinated skirt steak is served with two eggs, your choice of hash browns or grits, and toast; both dishes are fan favorites, and shouldn't be overlooked.

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Chicago's Best New Restaurants That Opened in 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
A s 2017 winds down, it's time to take stock of the myriad restaurants that opened (and closed: rest in peace, Charlatan, Katsu, Ruxbin, et al.) this year. We saw West Town's food scene shift from under-the-radar to culinary hotbed, highbrow Mexican restaurants flourish, Michelin-starred chefs go casual, and the demand for -- and commitment to -- local produce and meats rage on. No group of restaurants better exemplify these trends than the following 10 stunners. From a 20-seat fine dining destination in (you guessed it) West Town, to a pasta spot with a penchant for all things Midwestern, these are the best restaurants that opened in 2017.

Mi Tocaya Antojeria

Logan Square

Elevated Mexican food in a space filled with art and kaleidoscopic tilework
This springtime arrival has garnered tremendous praise since its opening -- earning a spot amongst Thrillist's Prime 13 best new restaurants of the year -- and for good reason: chef and owner Diana Davila's elevated Mexican cuisine is the stuff that open-minded food enthusiasts' dreams are made of. If you're looking for free, bottomless chips and basic margaritas, look elsewhere. Here, the margs are infused with ingredients like serrano chilis and bitters or elderflower and citrus, and the wildly popular peanut butter y lengua starter sets the tone for the rest of the meal. Charred butternut squash tacos with chile, beans, and corn crema make for an outstanding vegetarian option, while pork albondiga en nogada will satisfy those with a carnivorous habit.

Bonci Pizzeria

West Loop

Pizza literally straight from Rome, with the flavors to prove it
This Roman import brazenly defied the "when in Rome..." adage upon its arrival to Chicago, because another deep-dish joint, it is not; instead, it's serving its iconic al taglio (sliced to order and sold by weight) pizza, which boasts a signature, focaccia-like crust that is at once substantive and airy. This outpost is the brand's first in the United States, and promises topping combinations ranging from prosciutto cotto and mozzarella to potato and mozzarella and meatballs and Parmesan. Pro tip: due to popular demand and inevitable lines, try to plan your visit at off-hours.

Paul strabbing

BLVD

West Loop

Amazing seafood served in Sunset Boulevard style
The 1950s Hollywood glamour and modern Chicago dining culture collide in stylish fashion at this debut concept from Sancerre Hospitality. The space is unapologetically luxurious, with cozy booths, twinkling chandeliers, and some of the poshest restrooms in the game (continuity of design matters, folks), while the menu serves luxury in the form of champagne, spendy caviar service, a seafood tower, and filet mignon served with foie gras, truffles, and brioche. Punctuate a meal with mini malt milkshakes or a "Holiday" hot fudge brownie sundae topped with bourbon-soaked cherries, caramel pretzels, whipped cream, and sprinkles for the full "treat yo'self" experience.

Paul Strabbing

Proxi

West Loop

Street food from around the world in a vibrantly designed space
It may not brandish the numerous accolades that Sepia has accumulated over the years, but the Michelin-starred restaurant's little sister is no less impressive. A playful, modern design ethos echoes executive chef Andrew Zimmerman's globetrotting menu of street food-inspired eats, complete with black, white, and cerulean geometric tiles in the bar area and an expansive open kitchen. Tempura-fried elotes with dehydrated lime, shaved Parmesan, and Kewpie mayo have become a fan favorites since the restaurant debuted in June; the coal-roasted oysters with ssamjang butter and fried fish collars with Thai garlic-chili sauce are equally can't-miss.

Julia Weeman

Split-Rail

West Town

The most high-end flavorful chicken nuggets you'll find
Executive chef/owner Zoe Schor (of former Ada Street fame) kept 2017's West Town dining renaissance rolling with her quaint, neighborhood-y tavern. Familiar and comforting American flavors shine in dishes like baked potato-inspired gnocchi, which comes packed with house bacon, sour cream, Hook's five-year Cheddar, and crispy potato skins, soul-soothing chicken nuggets with tangy honey-mustard for dipping, and like-Grandma's-but-better angel food cake teamed with seasonal fruit and Chantilly cream.

Matt Haas / Thrillist

Kitsune

North Center

Midwest-sourced ingredients meet home-style Japanese cuisine
The latest from Michelin-starred chef and foraging genius Iliana Regan of Elizabeth employs both locally procured ingredients and homestyle Japanese cooking techniques to create a signature cuisine that is traditional in approach and modern in execution. Chawanmushi with wild mushrooms and white fish plays well alongside nori sourdough with salmon poke and egg yolk, house-made nettle ramen with shio mushroom broth and crudité, and Japanese whisky-glazed doughnuts, while brunch offerings like okonomiyaki and "baoscuits" with pork cheek gravy and a fried egg make for a far from average Sunday outing. Read why we picked Kitsune as one of our Prime 13 best new restaurants of the year.

Courtesy of Quiote

Quiote

Logan Square

A mezcaleria-meets-Mexican-small-plates wonderland
Casual yet stylish, Quiote is a lesson in seemingly effortless balance. The bi-level Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient is airy and inviting, and provides a lively atmosphere for imbibing mezcal-based cocktails, like the Hotel Victoria (mezcal, arrack, lemon, aji, and pineapple cordial), alongside shareable bites like decadent bone marrow topped with avocado, cilantro, and salsa macha on supremely crusty toasted sourdough, esquites fundido comprised on sweet corn, cotija, crema, and serrano, and a crab tostada with mustard seed, hot sauce, radish, and punchy black lime for a hit of acidic brightness. No visit is complete without a visit to the subterranean mezcal bar, either pre- or post-meal.

Stephanie Zhao

Temporis

West Town

An ever-changing tasting menu pulled directly from an on-site hydroponic garden
Adventurous eaters with expensive taste, this one is for you: Chicago's small circle of tasting-menu-only fine dining restaurants gained this tiny yet notable addition this year. Sleek, sophisticated, and sustainability-minded, 20-seat Temporis serves just a single, evolving, eight-to-10 course tasting menu each night -- which is flush with hyper-local ingredients grown in the restaurant's on-site hydroponic garden. The menu changes at the seasons' whims, but has recently featured courses like A5 Miyazaki wagyu with kombu, blueberry, and chanterelle, capellini with mushrooms and gooseberries, and peach with cinnamon, brown butter, and lemon verbena.

Jason Little

HaiSous

Pilsen

Husband-and-wife team brings unbeatable Vietnamese food to Pilsen
Perhaps the most feel-good restaurant story of 2017 is that of Thai and Danielle Dang, the resilient husband-and-wife team who overcame tremendous adversity (including a lawsuit against their former boss at Embeya) to bring authentic Vietnamese fare to Pilsen. HaiSous was worth the wait, with a concept that offers both a la carte and prix fixe brunch and dinner services. Both are loaded with traditional items like roasted duck stuffed with kaffir lime leaves, corn with toasted coconut, scallion confit, and fried garlic, and even fried chicken wings with sticky-sweet caramelized fish sauce and crispy garlic.

Neil Burger

Daisies

Logan Square

Midwest-inspired pasta served in an exposed-brick dining room
Pasta is the name of the game at this 52-seater, where traditional Italian preparations are pushed aside in favor of locally grown ingredients and a uniquely Midwestern sensibility. Delve into the region's bounty by way of tortellini with lentils, kale, and pork sausage, tajarin with pole beans, garlic, and chicken cracklin', and stracci tossed with braised lamb, broccoli, and pecorino. Balance all those noodles with starters like carrot rillettes with duck fat and fennel and a glass of tequila-spiked Daisy Sangria, which is rounded out with tea, apple, and white wine.