Brunch is the best reason to put on pants on weekend mornings, and luckily Chicago is full of great options. But sometimes your go-to spots can start to feel a little tired. Sometimes you want to try something new (besides Kanela Breakfast Club’s 67th location). With that in mind, we give you the Brunch Hit List, a guide to excellent new brunch spots. All the places on this list are less than a year old, or have recently started serving brunch - and as with our regular Hit List, we’ve been to all of them and can say for sure that they’re worth your time.
The Loop doesn’t have a lot of options and is creepily deserted on weekends, so it’s understandable if spending your precious Sunday morning there sounds like a terrible idea. But the food at Fisk & Co. in the Hotel Monaco might change your mind. Their specialty is mussels, but you’ll also find dishes like harissa baked eggs and a speculoos Belgian waffle. We can’t guarantee there will be much to do nearby after eating here, so maybe just plan to go home and take a nap.
Most of the party spots are located in River North - but not all of them. Octavio, in Andersonville, has everything you’re looking for in a lively downtown brunch, like draft cocktails, loud music, and big booths. The Mexican food here is fine, with chilaquiles, plantain-topped French toast, and tacos made with homemade tortillas - but you’re here for the atmosphere more than a life-changing meal. Come here when you need a North Side hangover brunch, or to kick off a birthday weekend.
Marisol is inside the Museum of Contemporary Art, and their food is good enough to risk dealing with weekend tourists on the Magnificent Mile. During brunch they have sweet options like banana chocolate French toast and savory dishes like avocado toast, and you should make sure at least one of these is on the table. Even though you’re technically eating inside the museum, the restaurant still feels like its own separate thing. So you don’t have to worry about being forced to look at any art (unless you really want to).
This is a new Logan Square destination for a fun group brunch. It’s run by the same people who own Scofflaw (a great bar in the neighborhood), so it’s not surprising that the drinks at Moonlighter are also very good. Plus, the huge outdoor patio is ideal for a summer hangout. As far as the food is concerned, it’s bar food, and for brunch there are menu additions like bananas foster French toast, avocado toast, and a breakfast burger. Bonus: the patio is dog-friendly.
We really like S.K.Y. in Pilsen for dinner, and brunch is just as good. There’s a three-course $28 menu with options like coconut pancakes, smoked salmon bao, or bacon and egg fried rice - and also an a la carte menu, if that’s what you prefer. Most of the food is Asian-fusion-ish, and everything is delicious. The space (low-key, with indie rock music playing in the background) is exactly what we’re looking for on a Sunday morning or afternoon.
This relaxed Southern bar and restaurant is perfect for day drinking, but doesn’t open until 4pm during the week. Luckily, though, on the weekend you can come for brunch. Their specialty is tamales, but you can also get dishes like shrimp and grits or a fried green tomato breakfast sandwich. The space seems small at first, but in the back there’s a sizeable patio. And that is where you want to be - it’s perfect for hanging with friends and sharing vases (a.k.a. pitchers) of their cocktails.
Daisies is a pasta-focused American restaurant that uses a lot of locally grown produce. At brunch, the menu has a fair number of dishes that aren’t pasta, but still keeps a seasonal focus. They have classics like eggs benedict, and a fantastic French toast made with fermented preserves (they really like fermenting things here) and bay leaf ice cream. The space is relaxed, with an open kitchen and a back courtyard you should try to sit in when it’s nice out.
HaiSous serves Vietnamese food in an upscale but still casual space in Pilsen. Their brunch has dishes like pho, crispy rice crepes, and a grilled ribeye served with a fried egg and jasmine rice. (They also have a three course prix fixe available for $25.) The service here is really friendly, and the food is consistently good. It’s ideal for a large group, or even just catching up with a few friends, if that’s all you have.
This Hyde Park spot serves fantastic Neapolitan pizzas. The pies are cooked in a 1000-degree wood-burning oven, and have a perfectly puffy, charred crust. At brunch, they do breakfast pizzas (with burrata, truffle, egg, and pancetta), but also sweet dishes like French toast and Nutella calzones. The space is bright, with white walls and a yellow Vespa dangling over the bar, and the atmosphere is upbeat. Even the hungover college students seem to be having a good time when they’re here.
Somerset is one of the best restaurants in Chicago, and their brunch is fittingly excellent. Everything on the American menu here is delicious. That being said, the pastries - like the gooey butter cake and monkey bread - are the must-orders. You also can’t go wrong with any of the savory dishes, like the smoked beet tartare that’s a transplant from the regular menu. The space definitely has a Gold Coast feel: it’s large, and the people inside typically look like they’re ready to hit up the nearby luxury stores after they eat. Despite this, it’s reasonably priced, and you don’t have to go to Dior after brunch unless you really want to.
GT Prime feels like a typical downtown Chicago steakhouse (which is what it is). It’s a huge restaurant, with big booths and menus so oversized they could knock over the glasses on the table. But the food is different from what you might expect, in that there are a lot of non-steak small plates. For example: suckling pig chilaquiles, omelettes, and fried chicken and waffles. Of course, you can also get steak and eggs (and choose which cut of steak you’d like). It’s a good option for a kind-of-fancy brunch in River North that doesn’t feel stuffy, but won’t be an extension of your Saturday night, either.