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.
This is a new spot in Wicker Park from the same owners as The Publican - a spot that’s been doing brunch since Richard Daley came over on the Mayflower. Cafe Cancale is French-inspired with a seafood focus, and the menu has a lot of shellfish, crepes, and galettes. Like its sister restaurant, the food here is very good. The space is bright and it can get crowded, but there are usually spots available at the bar.
This fun Latin American restaurant in Wicker Park has great food and an excellent brunch menu. We’re big fans of Amaru’s pastel de elote (a corn cake) with mascarpone mousse, the bacon-wrapped sweet plantains, and their delicious chilaquiles - a brunch dish we’re pretty sure every restaurant in Chicago is required by law to serve. This is the kind of neighborhood spot where you can grab a casual breakfast, then stay and day-drink till dinner.
You can always count on two things in Chicago. On the first day it snows, everyone will drive like they’ve never operated a car before. And whenever the Girl & The Goat group opens a restaurant it’s going to be popular. Cabra is a Peruvian restaurant from that same team, on the roof of the Hoxton Hotel in the West Loop. So yes, this place is very busy and crowded, but it also serves an excellent brunch. Order the shrimp tacu tacu omelette with huancaina (a spicy cheese sauce), the delicious quinoa toast with cheese and strawberry aji jam, and please make sure someone gets a side of elotes-style choclo (large grains similar to corn and covered in cotija). It’s a great spot for a fun group brunch - just make reservations ahead of time.
While we like all the food at Cebu - a small, slightly upscale Filipino restaurant in Wicker Park - the tamarind-glazed fried chicken with ube maple syrup and a fluffy potato waffle is the reason we come for brunch. In fact, anything baked needs to be on the table, which is why we like the lechon benedict made with their fantastic pandesal bread. The space is good for a quiet meal and catching up with one or two friends. But our favorite time to be here is any time of year when we can sit on the back patio.
The Smith’s whole reason for existing is to appeal to the largest amount of people possible. This means you’ll find a somewhat absurd range of options at this River North spot - for example, churro waffles, breakfast pot pie, a variety of omelets, vanilla French toast, and (just to cover all the bases) calamari. And even though the food isn’t going to blow you away, it’s all pretty tasty. So the next time you’re outside Nordstrom Rack debating restaurant choices with your mom, sister, sister’s best friend, and her dog walker, go here.
The main reason to come to this Chinese restaurant in Lincoln Park is for dim sum, which they serve all day, seven days a week. And while D Cuisine has a limited selection compared to the other dim sum spots in the city, they still have excellent pork buns, smooth and creamy steamed egg buns, shrimp dumplings, and sesame balls that are crispy on the outside and chewy inside. The space is sleek and on the smaller side (you won’t find any giant tables here), but it works for any group that can figure out how to play table-Tetris with the steamer baskets.
Cira is another restaurant in The Hoxton, and from an atmosphere perspective, it feels a lot like Cabra’s cousin who graduated from law school. This place is ideal for a business brunch or any kind of situation involving parents or people with five-year plans. The food here is Mediterranean-inspired and meant to be shared, and you can get a $25 prix-fixe (with options like banana bread and a potato frittata) or order dishes like shakshuka and a falafel benedict a la cart.
This upscale Southern restaurant is one of our favorite spots in Hyde Park, and we love coming here for brunch. You’ll find dishes like delicious cinnamon rolls, banana pudding French toast (yes, it comes with Nilla wafers), and biscuits with gravy. It isn’t the lightest food in the city, so make sure you have the kind of weekend plans that allow for going home and putting on stretchy pants.
We’re big fans of the brunch at Luella’s Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square, so it’s not surprising that we really enjoy the brunch at Luella’s Gospel Bird in Wicker Park, too. This casual, BYOB counter-service place from the same owners does a delicious Southern-style brunch, with dishes like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and a great blueberry and brown sugar French toast.
This restaurant and market is a great Ukrainian Village utility spot. It’s open all day, and we like it just as much for brunch as we do for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food is across-the-board delicious (with things like breakfast sandwiches, creamed eggs over toast, and oatmeal with candied squash and pecans) - and after you eat, just make sure to pick up some wine and cheese for later. Even if “later” means as soon as you get home.
This West Town spot is cool and fun without taking itself too seriously. Case in point, the brunch, which they call “Funkenbrunchen.” It’s German-inspired, and like with dinner, you’ll find lots of delicious and pork-heavy things on the menu - for example schnitzel and grits, eggs with weisswurst, and a croque madame that’s certainly not German, but definitely has ham. Plus, the space manages to have a low-key party atmosphere without being obnoxious.
During the summer, trying to have brunch outside can turn into a Thunderdome scenario. This won’t happen at Paradise Park, where you get the benefits of outdoor brunch without the long wait times. It has a huge all-season patio that’s open all year round, so even in February you’ll feel like you’re hanging out on someone’s lawn (the patio has fake grass, swing sets, and pink lawn flamingos). Come for things like breakfast pizzas and calzones, or chicken and waffles. And bring your dog, since they’re allowed.
If you’re vegan, then you might be accustomed to hoping for a tofu scramble on a restaurant’s brunch menu, and feeling grateful that at least mimosas are (usually) animal-free. You’ll have a lot more options at No Bones Beach Club in Wicker Park, where the long brunch menu is 100% plant-based. It’s great hangover food - fried avocado benedicts, stuffed French toast with coconut whip, and cashew-cheese nachos that even meat-eaters will like. Plus, the tropical decor and cocktail list make this an enjoyable spot for day-drinking.