Food & Drink

The Best New Chicago Brunches You Need to Try Now

Published On 02/16/2016 Published On 02/16/2016
Courtesy of Grant Kessler

As Chicago’s love affair with brunch surges on, so too does the seemingly constant evolution of the city’s brunch-time landscape. With revamped menus at local favorites and service launches from newcomers, a lot has changed since we last dished on new brunches. Read on for valuable information on cheesy biscuits and breakfast pizza.

Buck's Chicken & Biscuits

Buck’s

Wicker Park

In addition to its chicken and biscuit-filled regular menu, this casual Southern-informed eatery in the former Carriage House space also offers a short list of stick-to-your-ribs brunch-only specials during weekend brunch hours. Absorb the remnants of a wild night out with a fluffy "cinnabiscuit" doused in warm glaze with a little hair of the dog in the form of amaro-spiked coffee, or go the savory route with an egg and cheese biscuit with your choice of bacon, sausage, or both.

BellyQ

BellyQ

West Loop

It’s a new year, new lineup for Chef Bill Kim’s Asian BBQ joint, which has added a swath of small, shareable plates to its Sunday brunch service. Sink your teeth into sausage, egg, and cheddar sliders drenched in blueberry compote, satisfy a dumpling craving with homemade dumplings galore, and fill up on long noodle stir fry with peashoots, egg, and napa cabbage.

Courtesy of Mercat a la Planxa

Mercat a la Planxa

South Loop

If you find yourself in the neighborhood during brunch hours, you have no excuse for not stopping by Jose Garces’s Catalan-inspired resto for it’s new and unbeatable prix fixe brunch option. $27 earns you a customizable three-course meal stacked with items like soft scrambled eggs with poached lobster, beet salad with farro, Spanish feta, watercress, hazelnuts, and beet emulsion, and Torrijas bread pudding, as well as complimentary seasonal fruit and churros with espresso dulce de leche dipping sauce. And since no brunch is complete without something boozy to wash it down, don’t miss the new tequila-based El Bolero made with orange juice, avocado, and triple sec.

Courtesy of Boltwood

Boltwood

Evanston

Armed with quite possibly the most impressive brunch menu outside of Chicago’s city limits, this Evanston gem proves that suburbs need not take the back seat in brunch game. Squash miso soup with coconut milk, apple fritter bites with salted caramel sauce, and pork pozole rojo shine on chef Brian Huston’s inventive menu, while a potent Boltwood Bloody promises to quench your thirst.

Cherry Circle Room

Cherry Circle Room

Loop

From a lamb sausage Scotch egg with giardiniera and yogurt sauce to a Belgian waffle laden with blueberry compote, mascarpone, and roasted pistachio compound butter, the new items on the brunch menu at upscale Cherry Circle Room prove that what was old is new again, thanks to Chef Pete Coenen’s limitless creativity and penchant for reimagining classic dishes.

Courtesy of Grant Kessler

Cantina 1910

Andersonville

Brunch takes a modern Mexican turn at this sweeping spot in the heart of Andersonville, where cajeta crumb cake and crispy honey comb tripe soup with radish and a poached egg are just the beginning. The unique menu delves into an array of traditional flavors, with dishes spanning from chilaquiles and to carnitas with a poached egg, masa dumplings, and vegetables en vinagre.

mfk

Mfk

Lakeview

If you’ve ever felt like your weekend brunch routine lacked coastal Spanish representation, rest easy: mfk is here with a powerful Sunday brunch menu stacked with smoked guanciale and manchego breakfast sandwiches, cochon pibil with black bean escabechadas, and a sunny side egg, soft scrambled eggs tossed with smoked red trout and tomatoes, and a fresh take on avocado toast (poached shrimp, Fresno chile, lemon) that’ll surprise even the most basic of brunch-goers.

Courtesy of Bar Toma

Bar Toma

Gold Coast

Chef Tony Mantuano’s (Spiaggia) casual-cool pizzeria is open for brunch 11:30am-2pm on weekends, and promises plenty of eats and drinks that effortlessly bridge the gap between breakfast and lunch. Get the party started with a Primal Mary, which arrives at your table in a 16oz mug outfitted with skewered beef jerky, provolone, spicy salami, bacon, a pickle, pepperoni, and an olive, and -- of course -- a PBR beer back. Since all that meat is best paired with more meat, team it with a “Rise and Grind” pizza (bacon, onion, cheddar, and egg) or a Diavolo pie (spicy sausage, jalapeño, cheddar, and egg).

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Kailley Lindman is a contributing writer for Thrillist Chicago, as well as a freelance food photographer, food blogger at KailleysKitchen.com, and recovering vegetarian. Follow her at @KailleysKitchen.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Buck's 1700 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Buck's is a warm, friendly rustic-chic Southern eatery that specializes in the two B's: biscuits and booze. We are partial to their amazing brunch menu, but you can't go wrong with any meal you eat here.

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2. bellyQ 1400 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

While dining at a resto with the word "belly" in the name may make you feel weird, you should get over it and chow down on Korean short ribs and banana leaf-wrapped salmon, or opt for the likes of Thai fried chicken, wood-fired bacon 'n kimchi pancakes, or some tea-smoked duck breast served with steamed Chinese buns. Also: cocktails, wine, and beer.

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3. Mercat a la Planxa 638 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

The South Loop’s Mercat a la Planxa brings the Mediterranean to Michigan Ave from its post at the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel. The menu is replete with Catalan-inspired tapas and cocktails from famed Spanish Chef Jose Garces. Start with a variety of cured meats (read: Jamón ibérico) and a pitcher of sangria before moving on to tapas like boquerones and pulpo con patatas. Finish with classic large-format items like paella and cochinillo asado (the latter of which must be ordered 72-hours in advance -- it is a whole suckling pig, after all).

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4. Boltwood 804 Davis St, Evanston, IL 60201 (Evanston)

We are convinced that Boltwood has never made a bad dish. Ever. They are always topping our lists of best places to eat or take visitors in Chicago, but we are partial to their fantastic brunch menu. Their menus are always innovative and a huge hit with locals and tourists alike.

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5. Cherry Circle Room 12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

Only accessible though the Chicago Athletic Association's game room, this sophisticated restaurant boasts a full-restored wooden bar, leather seating, and reimagined classic cocktails. It serves up some of Chicago's best brunch dishes, like the roasted crab cake, smoked nova salmon, or corned beef & duck hash, but lunch and dinner menus, also inspired by historical recipes, are equally worth your attention.

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6. Cantina 1910 5025 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

Housed in a 6,700-square-foot space, this Mexican concept captures the spirit of the farm-to-table movement with canned and preserved ingredients, a forthcoming rooftop far slated for 2016, and ingredients sourced within a 200-mile radius of Chicago. Great tacos make the menu's foundation, but the goat chorizo antojito (small plate) and an impressive selection of desserts are surprising standouts.

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7. mfk. 432 W Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lakeview)

This seafood-focused restaurant transports you to a coastal Spanish fishing village with its simple, rustic dishes. Small plates range from light Cantabrian salt-cured anchovies served atop butter bread, to hearty, deep-fried manchego and speck-stuffed croquettes with a roast garlic aioli for dipping. And with the kitchen open to midnight on Friday and Saturday, you can treat yourself to a true Spanish-style dinner.

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8. Bar Toma 110 E Pearson St, Chicago, IL 60611 (Gold Coast)

James Beard Award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano's Bar Toma in Near North Side is an Italian neighborhood restaurant with open brick walls covered in chalk murals and big leather booths that provide a familial feeling, just like it's classic fare. The mozzarella bar, espresso bar, and gelato are all merely a backdrop to the wood-fired pizzas, the recipe for which Mantuano crafted himself from imported Italian ingredients and are topped with basil, prosciutto, Calabrian chiles, and truffle oil.

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