Food & Drink

The Best New Brunches in Chicago

Published On 05/12/2016 Published On 05/12/2016
GreenRiver Chicago
GreenRiver | Kailley Lindman/Thrillist

GreenRiver

Streeterville

Just in time for al fresco dining season, this urban oasis on the 18th floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital building adds “brunch” to its expansive list of programming. Dishes like the seasonal omelet and corned beef hash with a fried duck egg, ramps, and English peas highlight the restaurant’s seasonally driven approach; signature favorites from the dinner menu, like the trout rillettes and whitefish tartine, are also available. If the weather’s nice, snag a seat out on the terrace and take in some of the most jaw-dropping lake and city views you’ll find anywhere during brunch hours.

Kailley Lindman/MAD Social

MAD Social

West Loop

Gina Stefani’s Madison St restaurant raises the brunch fare bar with a selection of stick-to-your-ribs dishes ranging from a deep-fried Monte Cristo piled high with mortadella, smoked bacon, Chihuahua cheese, and mixed greens on brioche, to braised Korean-style short rib Benedict served on toasted pretzel buns with Brussels sprout kimchi and togarashi hollandaise. In addition, you can also choose from a selection of items listed on the dinner menu, including the coveted fried chicken and churro waffle -- one of the best fried chicken and waffle combos in the game.

Shannon Monson/Duck Duck Goat

Duck Duck Goat

West Loop

Stephanie Izard’s latest venture may have opened mere weeks ago, but the already-popular Fulton Market spot is wasting no time leaping into brunch service. Enjoy a hangover-curing lineup of dim sum (duck eggrolls and scallion pancakes with slaw and hoisin sauce, anyone?) and more every Sunday between 11am and 1pm.

Monica Kass Rogers

Mott St

Wicker Park

If you’re tired of the same old brunch dishes, pencil in Sunday brunch plans at this globetrotting neighborhood gem helmed by Chef Edward Kim. The eclectic menu spans from congee, a Thai-style rice porridge packed with Issan sausage, fish sauce, ginger, cilantro, and lime and chili marinated pork jowl skillet paired with eggs and plantain fried rice, to coconut pancakes amped up with pink peppercorn, and also includes fresh takes on avocado toast and a burger for those with more mainstream palates.

BJ Pichman

Forbidden Root

West Town

Chicago’s first botanic brewing company now serves Sunday brunch between 11am and 2pm. Malted hanger steak with provolone scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes, a pork belly and kimchi pancake with tokaji maple syrup, and French toast laden with smoked peanut butter mousse and caramelized banana roundout the inventive comfort food-driven menu, while brunch-y cocktails and the pub’s unique beers provide just the hair-of-the-dog fix a lazy Sunday calls for.

Arami

Arami

West Town

With a stellar sushi program already in the bag, this Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient sets its sights on conquering the brunch game with a fleet of mouthwatering Japanese-American dishes. Indulge a sugar craving with matcha French toast beignets with miso maple syrup, or go the traditional Japanese route with a hearty dish comprised of miso, rice, oshinko, dressed tofu, and fried white fish. If your heart lies with sushi, there’s the Chef’s selection of sashimi and nigiri and a sushi bento box.

Dolce Italian Chicago

Dolce Italian

River North

The first and third Sunday of each month, this hotspot hosts its ongoing Gentleman’s Brunch series in an effort to dispel the notion that brunching is just a ladies thing. The bimonthly man-friendly brunch runs between 11:30am and 3pm, and promises Italian twists on traditional brunch eats, like buffalo chicken pizza and steak & eggs with short ribs, poached eggs, and spinach atop toasted ciabatta with a red wine reduction, as well as cocktails made with Angel’s Envy bourbon.

The Blanchard

The Blanchard

Lincoln Park

Whether your parents are in town visiting for the weekend or you’re hoping to impress a new love interest, when an occasion calls for an elegant atmosphere and flawlessly executed French cuisine, brunching The Blanchard is always the right choice. The restaurant’s signature mimosa, which blends St. Germain with Muscadet, tangerine, and Champagne, is light and refreshing, and pairs well with everything from pate de foie gras with braised prunes, Armagnac gelee, and grilled bread to pain perdu made with vanilla brioche, mascarpone cheese, and strawberries.

Oyster Bah

Oyster Bah

Lincoln Park

The concise brunch menu at this New England-inspired seafood eatery may only contain six items, but those six items have made a big splash on the Halsted St scene alongside the restaurant’s lunchtime offerings. Load up on all the candied bacon, smoked trout hash, and cheese shrimp and grits your stomach can handle, and top it off with a round or two of fresh oysters as you discuss the legacy of David Ortiz over breakfast.

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1. MAD Social 1140 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

If you're looking for a restaurant to impress friends, get drinks with co-workers, or take a hot date, West Loop's Mad Social should be at the top of your list. The menu features a serious selection of cured meats and cheeses, so assemble your charcuterie plate and settle into one of the leather banquettes with a vodka cocktail. The real stunner is the burger, stacked high with crispy onion rings and served with deliciously greasy fries because honestly, why choose one side?

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2. Duck Duck Goat 857 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

As you might guess from the name, this Chinese-inspired restaurant is from the mastermind behind Girl & the Goat, Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard. The 100-seat West Loop space is undeniably cool and stylish with portraits hanging on the walls, lazy Susan tabletops, and a jade-accented cocktail lounge. Izard describes the menu as "reasonably authentic," which means elaborate takes on dim sum, fried rice, and noodles, plus various small and large dishes. The food is meant to be shared, and if you're with a big group, definitely order the Peking duck or goat of the day.

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3. Mott St 1401 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Wicker Park)

Tucked away in an unassuming red brick storefront in Wicker Park, this vaguely Asian restaurant from the Ruxbin crew serves an eclectic menu of family-style plates inspired by the comfort food cravings of the restaurant team. Mott St truly does cook up a little bit of everything, from steamed pork dumplings and soy-glazed wings to congee and udon. If small plates aren't for you (we get it, sometimes you just want an entrée all to yourself), then perhaps the double chuck patty Mott Burger is. The restaurant's communal tables fit all too well with the tapas-like menu.

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4. Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery 1746 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (West Town)

This West Town brewpub is Chicago's first botanic brewery. Its 18 taps are loaded with the four house flagship beers -- Forbidden Root, Sublime Ginger, Wildflower Pale Ale, and Shady Character -- plus seasonal brews. The industrial chic restaurant space includes a center bar and plenty of banquette seating, and the food menu is a mix of upscale bar food plates like crispy duck leg and pork schnitzel. Tours of the brewery are offered once a week, and there's Sunday brunch.

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5. Arami 1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (West Town)

This West Town Japanese spot serves a carefully selected menu of cooked and raw fish. The sushi-centric menu includes Ă  la carte nigiri, sashimi, and maki rolls, plus grilled robata meats and ramen. The sushi is more creative than what you'd find at a run-of-the-mill Americanized spot but more affordable than a fine dining omakase, and everything is of the highest quality and beautifully prepared.

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6. Dolce Italian 127 W Huron at LaSalle, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

The third location -- and first in the Midwest -- of New York-based LDV Hospitality's modern Italian restaurant adds a touch of casual elegance to the ground floor of The Godfrey Hotel in River North. The upscale traditional menu features a range of Italian classics like Neapolitan pizzas and the house signature veal Milanese. In true hotel restaurant format, Dolce Italian (the decor is inspired by La Dolce Vita and Fellini's Rome) serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. As for drinks, expect traditional cocktails with a twist, like the strawberry cucumber Moscow Mule.

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7. GreenRiver 259 E Erie St Fl 18, Chicago, IL 60611

Between its stunning views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan, an Irish American-informed cocktail menu, and inventive dishes like white fish tartine with egg, radish, and celery, and sturgeon with bean ragout, turnip, and kale, there’s much to love about this swanky Streeterville spot. The space is streamlined, airy, and modern, boasting an attached terrace complete with plush seating prime for lounging over whiskey-infused cocktails.

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8. The Blanchard 1935 N Lincoln Park W, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

This dining destination in Lincoln Park serves French classics with just enough whimsy to keep things interesting and just enough elegance to make it feel like an occasion. The menu features classics like escargots, steak frites, and mussels, but the highlight is by far the section dedicated to foie gras. The 100-seat space feels more modern than the typical Parisian brasserie with white tablecloths, leather chairs, and abstract art finishes.

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9. Oyster Bah 1962 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Square)

This Lincoln Park restaurant from Lettuce Entertain You is all about New England seafood. Oyster Bah serves Cape Cod classics like clam chowder and lobster rolls, plus more region-specific specialities like shrimp & grits and Maryland-style crab cake. It’s really all about the oysters though, and the restaurant sources between eight and 12 cold-water varieties daily. The multi-level space is decorated like a shabby chic seafood shack and has two bars serving oyster-friendly wines, cocktails, and local draft beer.

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