Food & Drink

The Best New Chicago Brunches You Need to Try Now

Published On 09/22/2015 Published On 09/22/2015
Cindy's | Neil Burger Photography
Son of a butcher tavern
Ampersand
Kailley Lindman/Thrillist
Kailley Lindman/Thrillist
Neil Burger Photography
Eric Kleinberg
Barcocina
The Hampton Social
Rockit Ranch Productions
Villains Chicago
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1. Son of a Butcher 2934 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

After closing for renovations in Spring 2016 and re-opening under new management from popular brunch locale WHISK, Son of Butcher touts a new, industrial-chic look and a revamped food menu. Meat still reigns supreme here, with highlights ranging from braised brisket barbeque sliders and full racks of St. Louis ribs, but there's a new smattering of salads, sandwiches, vegetarian light bites, and a solid brunch menu (pro tip: get the decadent and Instagram-worthy S'mOreos pancakes). Bar offerings focus on craft beers, but the specialty cocktails boast quirky names and eclectic liquors ("Brexit Strategy," anyone?), with the added bonus of curated wines by the glass and regional ciders.

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2. Ampersand Wine Bar 4845 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60640 (Ravenswood)

Without pretentiousness, Ampersand Wine Bar is bursting with outstanding wines and globally inspired comestibles. The atmosphere is casual and the food (which includes burrata with duck prosciutto and arugula, Calabrian pork cheek with pearl onion agrodolce and heirloom tomato, and roasted asparagus with salsa verde) will keep you satiated well into the next bottle.

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3. Pub Royale 2049 W Division, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

This Anglo-Indian pub in Wicker Park serves Indian-inspired comfort food like salt cod samosas, palak paneer, and coconut curry mussels in an eclectic space decorated with taxidermy and colorful masks. The beer-driven menu features a well-curated mix of American IPAs, German Pilsners, and ciders -- both bottled and on tap. Though spicy, savory plates are the obvious choice at Pub Royale, don't overlook the chai dulce de leche doughnuts -- or the burger.

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4. Formento's 925 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Executive Chef Stephen Wambach heads up this bright and expansive Italian restaurant. His menu keeps things classic, offering quality dishes like a four-cheese tortellini and a prosciutto-wrapped veal filet. The white tablecloths add to the traditional feel of the space, and collect crumbs from Formento's must-try chocolate layer cake. No, really, try it -- it comes with chocolate pudding frosting and hazelnut praline.

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5. Balena 1633 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

The menu at this acclaimed collaborative effort between Boka Restaurant Group and B. Hospitality Co. showcases executive chef/partner Chris Pandel's modern-yet-homey interpretation of Italian cuisine, and spans from hearth-fired pizzas and burrata di panna to far-from-ordinary house-made pastas, including tagliolini nero tossed with crab, sea urchin, and mint, and walnut pesto-coated Sardinian gnocchi. The concept also offers an exceptional brunch program packed with sweet and savory dishes.

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6. Barcocina 2901 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

The Chicago outpost of this Baltimore-based Mexican-inspired concept arrives with an airy, wood-accented space flooded with natural light and rigged with ample patio space. The menu includes plenty of favorites from the original spot, like cheeseburger tacos and lobster guacamole, as well as some brand new and thematically on-point dishes spanning from pork belly rebocado and lamb French dip tacos to an array of spicy, smoky, and sweet cocktails prime for all-day-sipping in the sunshine.

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7. The Hampton Social 353 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

This seafood spot is a laid back scene with a great brunch and killer happy hour with $89 dollar magnums and half-price glasses of rosé and pizza from 4-7pm on weekdays.

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8. Villains Chicago 730 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60605

This pub offers seasonal American fare and a selection of cocktails and 40 micro-beers in a cool, industrial venue.

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9. Duck Inn 2701 S Eleanor, Chicago, IL 60608 (Bridgeport Sox)

The name of this spot might conjure up images of a cute bed and breakfast, but in reality, The Duck Inn is a stylish restaurant decked in bare brick and orange accents that specializes in -- you guessed it -- duck. They aren't playing around here: The seasoned rotisserie duck, four-course chef's tasting menu, and creative dishes like potted foie gras and scallop and clam stew earned it a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016.

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10. Cindy's 12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (Loop)

Cindy’s is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the Loop with views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, but underneath its glass dome ceiling atop the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel it doesn’t simply rely on its looks. Cindy’s has a host of gifted bartenders who whip up unexpected “potions” like the Alsatian Rustbelt (made with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Wolfberger Amer Fleur de Joie, lagunitas, and lime) that complement its upscale, seafood-forward menu. At brunch the egg dishes, like the cast iron-made quiche with chard, leeks, and gooey emmental, are buttery and light, and at dinner the shellfish platter and the grilled salmon with horseradish crème fraîche are both rich but pleasantly light ... but the late night fried cheese curds might be the sexiest thing on the menu.

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