The Chicago Brunch Hit List

The brunch spots you should check out right now.
The Chicago Brunch Hit List image

photo credit: Liva

Brunch is one of the best reasons to put on pants on weekend mornings, and luckily Chicago is full of great options. But in case your go-to spots are starting to feel a little tired, or you just want to try something new, check out one of the restaurants on this guide. All of these places have either recently opened, reopened, or just started serving brunch. Go forth and enjoy some pancakes.

New to the guide (09/20): Don Bucio's Taqueria, Itoko, La Victoria, Soule To Soule


photo credit: Soule To Soule


Soul Food

West Town

$$$$Perfect For:BYOBSmall Plates


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This place comes from the team behind Soulé, a soul food spot brimming with Feel Good Factor™ in North Lawndale. The iteration in West Town is BYOB (with a mocktail menu full of mixers) and offers weekend brunch. Expect little plates of dishes like salmon bites, fried green tomatoes, and biscuits and gravy with pull-apart layers you’ll hold up to the light just to marvel at the flakiness. And if you’re not the type to record everyone’s awestruck reaction to the biscuits, each table at Soule To Soule has a box to put your phone in, full of conversation-starting cards (would you rather be a side chick or a wife?).

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Signs you’re at a restaurant from the Bavette’s and Gilt Bar team: ’20s jazz, a dim dining room that feels like the Clue mansion, fantastic service, and great food. You’ll find all of the above at Trivoli Tavern in the West Loop, which (unlike its predecessors) does weekend brunch. The menu has things like strawberries and cream pancakes, crab cake benedict, a $40 smoked salmon bagel tower, and a whole bunch of brunch cocktails. Plus they’re part of Gin Alley, which means they also have a very cute cobblestone outdoor patio.

This vegan taqueria in Logan Square has bottomless brunch Friday through Sunday. You can get unlimited pitchers of mimosas for $21 within a 90-minute time limit, along with some excellent plant-based food. Drinking isn’t necessary to enjoy the brunch menu though. Come to Don Bucio’s for breakfast burritos, tacos, and truly delicious chilaquiles in a space that looks like an ‘80s Trapper Keeper. 

Obelix, a great French spot in River North, is now open for brunch on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. And while they have delicious French staples, the best dishes on the menu are the ones that have unexpected twists, like the foie gras monte cristo. Obelix is upscale enough to have white tablecloths, but it's not stuffy. They have a fun hip-hop playlist and friendly servers who are chill enough to crack a few jokes. This is one of Chicago's toughest reservations for dinner, but thankfully you can usually get a same-day table for brunch.

Itoko in Lakeview is from the same team behind Momotaro, and has a similar Japanese fusion menu. Itoko is much quainter—the two-story restaurant is in what feels like a revamped house—and also offers brunch. The brunch menu is also mostly fusion, with things like fantastic kabocha pancakes or caramelized honey butter toast with sansho roasted strawberries. But there’s Japanese breakfast as well, like a teishoku spread that comes with miso soup, tamago yaki, and a piece of salmon that happens to be the best (cooked) dinner dish.

We like this River North spot for brunch because it's relaxed, has a lovely fireplace, and the space is so large that you can usually get last-minute reservations for a group. Liva is located inside the Chicago Winery, so there’s unsurprisingly a bottomless mimosa option, as well as a long wine list. Brunch dishes run the gamut from shakshuka to salmon tartine. You can also get a basket of pastries because it’s illegal to have a brunch menu without one.

This Asian-fusion vegan spot in River North is the rare plant-based restaurant where the food is really good and enough of a scene to earn its downtown address. Planta Queen's space is sleek, plays thump-y club music, and the long menu is full of brunch dishes that are objectively tasty—whether you’re vegan or not. There’s a cinnamon roll with chai icing, chow fun noodles, ube mochi waffles, and bottomless mimosas and sangria. Come here for a boozy brunch with friends, the large space has plenty of big booths.

If you’re familiar with Big Star, then you pretty much know what to expect from Big Star Mariscos in West Town: wooden booths, a large patio, and a menu full of margaritas and tacos. As the name suggests, this iteration of Big Star is seafood-focused, but their weekend brunch menu isn't. It mainly has things like breakfast tacos, horchata French toast, and chilaquiles. Overall it's a pleasant, bright space to spend your weekend day drinking over a plate of carnitas hash.

This gluten-free, Southern restaurant in Avondale serves the kind of comforting dishes that make us look forward to–or at least not hate—Chicago’s 30-degree days. Chesa's brunch menu has things like mimosa flights, short rib and grits (a beefy change of pace from shrimp that we didn’t know we needed), and fried chicken and cinnamon beignet waffles that we wouldn’t know were gluten-free if it wasn’t our job to know these things. The space is bright and casual, with a few TVs over the bar and a hip-hop playlist that makes you remember how much you like 2000’s Nelly.

This is the second location of Avec, and is about 56 times larger than the original in the West Loop. And this supersized Avec now serves brunch, with dishes like a giant strawberry orange cinnamon roll and shakshuka, plus bottomless mimosas. Other notable differences are that it doesn’t have communal seating, so you won't have to ask everyone to move whenever you need to go to the restroom.

La Victoria is a big, boozy Mexican spot in Logan Square with food that’s better than you might expect from a place decorated with neon cursive and plant walls. The sprawling space has a giant bar and a back patio which is surprisingly uncrowded during brunch. Walking-in is an option for small groups, and there’s plenty of room if you happen to roll in with all the new friends you just made at the Logan Square Farmers Market. The brunch menu has tacos, tlayudas, and larger plates like some fantastic huevos rancheros and chilaquiles. Couple the food with a few (very tasty) margaritas, and this quasi-party restaurant is a great option for a fun brunch.

The Loyalist is the casual French restaurant and bar in the basement of Smyth, and they recently started serving brunch. The menu is full of sexy-sounding things (with dishes like soft scrambled egg mousseline with black truffle and a blueberry-basil-elderflower tarte anglaise) but the main reason to come is for the outstanding cheeseburger. The patty is made from a mixture of chuck, short rib, and bacon, giving it a light, smoky flavor and incredible richness. The cheese is gooey and the caramelized onions are plentiful. In other words, this is a good f*cking burger, and The Loyalist is also a good place to hide from the tourists waiting outside Au Cheval.

When we talk about "best new brunches" we're normally thinking of places we linger with a plate of French toast and a pitcher of mimosas. Tribecca's is not one of those spots. Instead, this small sandwich shop in Humboldt Park has a short brunch menu with four B.E.C sandwiches inspired by The Golden Girls. Their flavorful "Sophia" is made with Italian spiced bacon, fontina, and basil aioli. The "Rose"—a B.E.C. with tater tots and lemon maple butter—will obliterate any hangover. They're filling and delicious, and good luck coming here and walking away with less than three sandwiches per person.

This Indian restaurant in Logan Square now serves brunch from 9am-3pm Thursday through Sunday. You can get dishes like uttapam topped with peas and coconut chutney, French toast with gajar halva and almond dukkah, and sandwiches like the Bombay, a “psychedelic grilled cheese” with a spicy, sweet ketchup. They also have a special brunch cocktail menu, with drinks like mimosas, and an Old Fashioned made with ghee-washed bourbon.

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