The best brunch in 19 different Chicago 'hoods
Big Jones (address and info)
Hearty, Southern heirloom cooking rooted in traditional techniques and flavors is the name of the game at this quaint restaurant along Andersonville’s main drag. Go for the Bayou Teche omelet, bursting with crawfish and andouille; stay for the cornbread muffins and artisanal popovers.
Nana (address and info)
Farm-to-table brunch never looked as good as it does at Nana. Most of the menu changes on the regular, based on what’s in season, but you can expect a handful of signature dishes -- like the "nanadict" (poached eggs, chorizo, pupusas, poblano cream, farm greens, home fries, and baked chilaquiles) -- year round.
Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (address and info)
Brunch at Mindy Segal's Damen Ave eatery is one of the few times (maybe the only?) in Chicago we’d gladly forgo a cocktail in favor of hot chocolate studded with house-made marshmallows. Team your drink with pillowy buttermilk pancakes or a sky-high breakfast BLT with bacon, heirloom tomatoes, Bibb lettuce, avocado aioli, fried farm egg, house brioche, and breakfast potatoes.
Uncommon Ground (address and info)
Lauded as the one of the "greenest restaurants in America", UG is an OG where certified organic rooftop gardens and locally sourced eats are concerned. The menu changes frequently, but noteworthy recent finds include the smoked maple Gunthorp chicken hash, strawberry-rhubarb pancakes, and blackened catfish with a poached egg and a dill sauce made with rooftop-grown herbs.
Chicago Q (address and info)
Score brunch with a delicious down-home BBQ twist at this Downtown destination. Chef/partner Lee Ann Whippen’s signature fare spans from sweet potato pancakes smothered in pecan butter and bourbon maple syrup, to a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and Kobe brisket eggs Benedict.
A10 (address and info)
This eccentric Matthias Merges (of Yusho and Billy Sunday fame) concept is home to a killer 10am-2pm Sunday brunch with everything from duck cassoulet and fried mortadella Benedict to tiramisu French toast and olive oil donuts with lemon curd and thyme. Let those word combinations sink in for a minute.
Bread & Wine (address and info)
A self-proclaimed neighborhood American bistro, Bread & Wine offers an amalgam of light and hearty brunch fare -- a seasonal omelet and poached peaches cover the lighter side, while the whiskey-glazed cinnamon roll, breakfast banh mi (pork belly, ham rillettes, kimchi, fried eggs, hash browns), and cheese & house charcuterie spreads round out (literally!) the heavier side.
Waffles Café (address and info)
As the old saying goes, "When at Waffles Café, get, uh, waffles". Seriously, this place has waffle flights (red velvet, green tea, Mexican chocolate, and Liège with apple compote), wonuts, waffle fries, and waffles Benedict with slow-roasted pork shoulder. Pro tip: pair your waffles with a milkshake, 'cause what’s a little more sugar at this point?
2 Sparrows (address and info)
Fill up on shrimp & grits made with Three Sisters cornmeal, cream collard greens, and seared shrimp at this recently redesigned Diversey mainstay, and grab their latest savory pop tart: mushroom and goat cheese. Thirsty? They’ve got bramble soda (a medley of berries and rosemary-infused simple syrup) and 2 Sparrows Shandy for that.
Gather (address and info)
Tucked away in the heart of the neighborhood, this quiet hideaway offers a concise menu that hits all the right "classic brunch" notes: fluffy flapjacks, cured salmon with the necessary accoutrements, eggs Benny with a hint of truffle, crispy home fries, and Intelligentsia coffee.
Longman & Eagle (address and info)
L&E doesn't do brunch. It does MICHELIN-STARRED brunch, which means award-winning eats from Chef Jared Wentworth, like the inventive piña colada French toast or the porcine-heavy Whole Hog Crépinette, served with Southern-style cheesy grits, collard greens, and natural maple jus.
Nightwood (address and info)
The eats on Nightwood’s handwritten menu include fresh-baked donuts, a spit-roasted Slagel Farm pork loin grinder layered with braised collard greens, provolone, and olive tapenade aioli, and the Nightwood Burger, which'll give you some... uh... never mind.
Bottlefork (address and info)
There is absolutely nothing ordinary about Bottlefork’s brunch menu, which is kinda the best part. Sip the inventive coffee cocktail (bourbon, Sherry, maple, Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee, egg, salt), do a bag of sour cream donut holes with bourbon "Old Fashioned" jam (wut), Richie’s Mom’s Cast Iron Baked French Toast, and the Rich Man Po’ Boy, loaded with lobster and crispy oysters on a foie-coated, buttered brioche roll.
Sweet Maple Café (address and info)
This unassuming storefront on Taylor St is one of Chi’s best examples of a good, old-fashioned brunch diner. The menu blends old family recipes (like the Holiday French Toast) with breakfast-y staples like country scrambles, build-your-own home fries, and sweet homemade muffins, and marries them all in the kind of environment that begs you to sit back, sip coffee, and eat until it hurts.
The Publican (address and info)
Who would we be if we didn’t include a Paul Kahan resto on this list? A terrible person, that's who. Navigate your way through the dill-infused lobster scramble, corned beef hash, and apple cider-glazed donuts at his Fulton Market institution, then wash it all down with a Smokin’ Mary (FEW white whiskey, chipotle house mix, stout, and a beer accompaniment of your choice) and $3 bottomless coffee.
Flo (address and info)
Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles French toast. We could mention the skirt steak eggs Benedict with chipotle hollandaise, too, but really, do we even need to?
Milk & Honey (address and info)
Cozy, consistent, and entirely unpretentious, M&H has reigned as a neighborhood favorite for well over a decade thanks in delicious part to "casserole-style" huevos rancheros and orange brioche French toast.
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Kailley Lindman is a contributing writer for Thrillist Chicago, as well as a food blogger, bacon enthusiast, and devout user of the Oxford comma. Follow her at @KailleysKitchen.
1. Big Jones5347 N Clark St, Chicago
2. Nana3267 S Halsted St, Chicago
3. Uncommon Ground1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago
4. Chicago Q1160 N Dearborn, Chicago
5. A101462 East 53rd St, Chicago
6. Bread & Wine3732 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago
7. Waffles Cafe Lakeview3617 N Broadway, Chicago
8. 2 Sparrows553 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago
9. Gather4539 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
10. Longman & Eagle2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
11. Nightwood Restaurant2119 S Halsted St, Chicago
12. Bottlefork441 N Clark St, Chicago
13. Endgrain1851 W Addison St, Chicago
14. Yolk1120 S Michigan Ave, Chicago
15. Sweet Maple Cafe1339 W Taylor St, Chicago
16. The Publican837 W Fulton Market St, Chicago
17. Flo1434 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
18. Milk & Honey Café1920 W Division St, Chicago
19. Mindy's Hot Chocolate1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago
If you’re looking for real Southern comfort in Chicago, then Big Jones in Andersonville is for you. The menu is filled with authentic Lowcountry dishes adapted from antique cookbooks, like cornbread muffins taken from an 18th-century plantation recipe and traditional Cajun gumbo. The sustainable menu changes seasonally, but no matter what, you can expect the signature fried chicken every night. Big Jones’ weekend brunch is also a stunner, especially if you nab a table on the back patio.
Nana's breakfast (no, not your Nana) is prepared with local, organic, sustainable, and seasonal products that are all mainly made in-house. That's some fresh b-fast that you'll be having, like the "Nanadict" (eggs Benedict, yo), blueberry pancakes, and poblano & cheddar grits. Typically with po-boys, you'd have to choose between the shrimp or oysters for a sandwich, but this friendly organic spot loads copious amounts of both grilled spicy shrimp and perfectly fried oysters -- along with a zesty cajun mayo and house-made giardiniera -- onto a hearty baguette.
Known as one of the "greenest restaurants in America," Uncommon Ground rocks delicious dishes like strawberry-rhubarb pancakes, and blackened catfish with dill sauce. Comforting fare like chorizo-loaded chilaquiles and breakfast sliders are made wholesome thanks to locally sourced and family farmed ingredients, and there are several vegetarian/vegan-friendly options, too.
A solid member of Chi's increasingly crowded smoked-meat scene, Chi Q gets fancy with spartan black leather furniture and white linen light fixtures. The gut-busting plates feature fare like bacon/cheddar hushpuppies, pork-infused "pig powder chips", and seriously good Brussels sprouts.
A10 is one of the best places to indulge in creme brulee, on-tap cocktails, and awesome brews. Not particularly in that order.
Certain the meal they cook you will be better than your Last Supper, Bread & Wine wants to make you an apostate from other restaurants by serving up its namesakes and then some, which they're doing in a snug, 60-seat bistro space sporting a counter view of the open kitchen, and rough-cut communal tables made from felled elm (hopefully none of your fellow diners turn out to be a nightmare).
This breakfast spot has evening hours in case you sleep through breakfast and lunch and find yourself craving a cheddar and short rib waffle, which you can then wash down with a hot chocolate flight selected from a dozen flavors like toasted marshmallow and gingerbread.
Famous for its breakfast, 2 Sparrow serves comfort foods perfect to cure your hangover (we're onto you). Allow the biscuits & gravy, eggs in purgatory, and housemade doughnuts soak up last night's bad decisions.
Gather serves neighborhood grub at its finest, blending European wine culture with the ease of American style. The food is classic and comforting, like a pan-seared walleye swimming (well, not really, anymore) among parsley puree, creamy mole, and oat risotto. Every Sunday, Gather offers a shared Sunday special perfect for families/groups of hungry and lonely strangers.
Longman & Eagle has got it going on. The Logan Square restaurant-slash-bar-slash-B&B is a Michelin-starred destination for upscale American fare, craft beers, small-batch wine, and serious whiskey options (there are over 300 varieties). Nearly half of the menu is under $20, including the signature wild boar sloppy joe, which makes the gastropub a no-brainer for quality and value. Longman has a tiny upstairs inn with six furnished rooms, but be prepared for a loud night given the downstairs bar is open until 3am on weekends.
This farm-to-table eatery is home to all things artisanal and local, and only serves up eats that're in season. Stop in for bites like their house corned beef on rye crouton bread, served with chopped liver and egg.
It's hard out there for a small plates restaurant that straddles the line between bar and full-service dinner restaurant, yet Bottlefork in River North manages to stand above the pack. The food menu spans a variety of cuisines and dietary restrictions, featuring dishes like tuna crudo, crispy Brussels sprouts with chorizo, buttermilk fried chicken, and a critically-acclaimed ground bacon burger. The cocktail menu, complete with illustrations, is divided into categories based on flavor and style: fruity, smoky, dark, and "Gentlemen's Cut."
Endgrain is a Roscoe Village, farm-fresh restaurant that's turning out innovative cuisine (think fried chicken with PORK GRAVY and bacon/butterscotch donuts).
Yolk is a multi-location brunch powerhouse that's prepared to hook you up with super reasonably priced options like the Yolk 2X2X2X2 Combo (two eggs, two bacon slices, two sausage links, and your choice of two pancakes, slices of French toast, crepes, or a half waffle).
This no-frills diner is an ideal place to go for a simple, delicious breakfast or brunch on Taylor St. Country scrambles, build-your-own home fries, and sweet homemade muffins await you.
Paul Kahan's West Loop restaurant feels like the Midwest; big and welcoming with communal tables, it's a farmhouse and a beer hall at the same time. The menu focuses on three things: beer, pork, and oysters, but you'll also find vegetable and fish alternatives. The beer selection features brews from all over, with a fair share from Belgium and Chicago.
This Latin American brunch spot is the perfect place to treat yourself to great comfort food in Noble Square. Aside from free coffee, their French toast is super tasty and their Bloodys are strong and delicious.
Milk & Honey is a Wicker Park favorite for delicious, cozy brunch -- get your hands on their "casserole-style" huevos rancheros and orange brioche French toast.
Pastry chef Mindy Segal's Bucktown restaurant is synonymous with comfort food from both the sweet and savory sides of the spectrum. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, Mindy's Hot Chocolate serves soul-warming dishes, like the Slagel Farm beef burger topped with a fried egg, creamy mac & cheese, and daily soups with crusty sourdough bread. Of course, a meal here isn't complete without dessert, which should include an order of the amazingly rich hot chocolate and a slice of the daily cake (or anything off the dessert menu -- it's all addictive).