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 started 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 the list are less than a year old, or have recently started serving brunch. And like our regular Hit List, these are places that we have actually gone to and have genuinely vetted.
Need a refresher on Chicago brunches? Check out the Brunch Directory, which lays out brunches by Chicago neighborhood.
This brewery in West Town has an interesting Sunday brunch, and if you’ve decided to spend your weekend hanging out in a bar you could do worse than posting up here for breakfast. The menu is interesting and unlikely-sounding twists on classics: there’s an excellent ’nduja and provolone omelette, but our favorite is the savory kimchi pancake. It has kimchi, cheese curds, a poached egg, and maple syrup.
Want a fancy brunch buffet on a table full of candelabras? This Gold Coast steakhouse has started doing brunch every Sunday and makes sure it feels as over-the-top as their nightly menu. You can stuff your face with food from the buffet which includes a carving station with filet mignon, or order from their a la carte menu, which is similar to their dinner options but with bottomless mimosas.
Ema’s now serves an enjoyable light brunch. The River North space is light and bright, and perfect for when you want don’t feel like dealing with the wait at Avec but are in the mood for same kind of Mediterranean-style food. You’ll find baked eggs with lamb ragu, and an assortment of kefta (ground beef, chicken, or lamb) with fried eggs. They also have some interesting fresh juices like a pink peppercorn lemonade, and a small brunch cocktail menu.
This is one of our favorite restaurants, and we love the Italian lunch they’ve begun serving on the weekends. They have housemade pastas and antipasti, but also some “brunch-ish” items, like a scrambled egg fonduta and a breakfast sandwich made with tigelle (like an Italian english muffin), fried egg, and bacon.
This River North Italian pub does a low-key party brunch, and it feels like it’s hosted by a cool exchange student in tight jeans who still gets to smoke. The space is dark with loud music, and brunch here is a lot like their dinner menu but with eggs on everything and none of the pasta. Their potatoes bolognese comes with an egg with the meaty sauce, and there’s also have a fantastic breakfast sandwich with fried mortadella and giardiniera. They have some fairly ridiculous brunch cocktails, including a “spaghetti and meatball” bloody mary, which literally has spaghetti and a meatball floating in it. So there is kind of a pasta option, we guess.
Cafe Marie-Jeanne is an all-day French cafe in Humboldt Park, with a comfortable neighborhood feel. A good portion of the menu is items that stand alone rather than being composed dishes, so piecing together a meal here can feel like you’re creating a French food jigsaw puzzle. We’re big fans of their brunch, where you can roll in at 9am and order fried chicken livers, sauteed calf brains, and a croissant. It’s relaxed and cozy, and absolutely the kind of place you can hang out in all day.
Kitsune now does a $40 prix fixe kaiseki brunch, which is a great way to experience their Midwestern take on Japanese cuisine. You’ll get about seven courses, and none of it will resemble any other breakfast in the city - you’ll get stuff like Japanese porridge bread, gomae (a spinach salad with sesame dressing), and ramen. It might not be anything you’d normally order, but Kitsune is such an amazing restaurant you should just go with it, no matter what meal it is.
The food at this California-inspired spot is probably what you think beautiful surfers eat - stuff like an intense avocado toast with orange slices, ricotta, and sunflower seeds, or a breakfast tostada with scrambled tofu. Plenty of it is vegan and gluten-free, and there’s an extensive menu of fresh-pressed juices and cocktails too. They’ve already opened two locations, the first in Lincoln Park and more recently, in River North. We prefer the Lincoln Park space because of its beach house feel and outdoor patio, but you’ll get good food at either one.
If you’re in the mood for something like a Vegas buffet but with good food, this is a great option. The brunch buffet is kind of absurd, but it’s done by the folks from Bavettes and Au Cheval, so the food is very good. There’s a benedict station, omelettes, charcuterie, and even a wall of donuts. The atmosphere is lively, and will make you feel like you’re on a cruise, but one you actually want to be on.
We love Quiote’s modern take on Mexican classics, and the brunch is a great way to experience this restaurant. All the Mexican breakfast bases are covered, with chilaquiles, pozole, and a great fried chicken torta. They have an extensive collection of mezcal, making their brunch cocktails a good change of pace if you’re looking for something besides mimosas and bloody marys. The space is modern and bright, and perfect for hanging out on a Sunday morning.
This place is great, especially if you’re tired of going to Summer House down the street. Blue Door used to be a small grab and go operation, but has since moved to a larger sit-down space in Lincoln Park. The food here is farm to table, and the brunch definitely has a Midwestern feel to it. You’ll find breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, and a fantastic fried chicken slider with pimento cheese. Lots of plants and little watering cans make the interior feel like a farmhouse, with a large skylight that brightening up the space. If you’re in the mood for American comfort food this is the spot.