Not every morning involves waking up with a hangover that requires you to eat a full seven pounds of greasy bacon. Perhaps you often wake up feeling good, refreshed, and ready to attack the day with an enthusiasm previously unknown to mankind. When that’s the case, it’s great to know about some restaurants with kind of healthy brunch options. We’re talking quality yogurt and granola, vegetable quiches, or even a salad. Here are our favorite places to eat a not-terrible-for-you brunch.
The menu at this California-inspired spot is highly varied - so you’ll find egg white scrambles, avocado toast, and plenty of salads alongside pancakes and breakfast sandwiches for those less concerned about keeping it healthy. There’s also a countdown of days until summer on the wall, reminding you exactly how long you have to wait until you feel like you could possibly be a surfer heading to the beach. As long as you don’t get too carried away and forget to go dig your car out of the snow, this only adds to the appeal.
Don’t come here for a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, or a DJ spinning to keep the party going from last night. Ema’s Mediterranean-style brunch is perfect for when you want something light and low-key in River North. You’ll find dishes like house-cured salmon and vegetable frittatas, plus an assortment of spreads including hummus and roasted eggplant. There are also non-alcoholic drinks more interesting than orange juice (we like the pink peppercorn lemonade), in case the last thing you want is a cocktail. You won’t miss DJ Shortstax for a second.
We like going to Little Beet Table when we want something kind of healthy, but we’re tired of the same old dishes at other restaurants (we’re looking at you, avocado toast). The brunch menu here has toast topped with smashed sweet potato instead of avocado, plus other interesting stuff like an egg and crispy spirulina rice bowl that reminds us of bibimbap. It’s in the bottom of a high-end apartment building in the Gold Coast, and it’s perfect for hitting up before shopping/pretending you can afford anything in the neighborhood.
Not all vegetable-focused restaurants serve healthier-than-average food, but Clever Rabbit definitely does. You have to try pretty hard to order something bad for you here. Most of the brunch items are vegetarian or vegan, with lots of salads, an egg white scramble with butternut squash, and creative cocktails (like carrot margaritas) that stick with the theme. So, basically, a meal here undoes a lifetime of bad decisions.
True Food Kitchen is one of our healthy weeknight dinner standbys, so it’s not surprising that it does a quality brunch, too. Many of the dishes are gluten free as well as dairy free - think grain bowls, vegan breakfast burritos, and quinoa johnny cakes. And although “relentlessly good-for-you” seems to be this place’s motto, everything actually tastes good, too. Including the cocktails - which you should have at least one of, because you’re probably going to skip that spin class you planned on doing later.
3 Arts Club might be the prettiest restaurant in the country. You hear that, people in LA? We have a prettier place than you do, and it’s even indoors. It’s located in the highly attractive atrium of a multi-story Restoration Hardware, and once you get over the fact you’re eating in an expensive couch store, you’ll thoroughly enjoy your meal. Needless to say, the furniture is comfortable, and there are plenty of healthy options on the menu, like granolas and the shaved vegetable salad.
Beatrix is a place that can solve all of your problems. Casual date? Beatrix. Work dinner? Beatrix. Coffee date? Beatrix. Healthy brunch? Beatrix, obviously. Keep it simple with oatmeal or an egg white omelette, or get more interesting with cauliflower grits or quinoa cakes with poached eggs. There are also fresh juice options like pear and passionfruit that are a nice, sweet but still not entirely unhealthy touch.
Eating at The Kitchen will help keep both you and your neighborhood healthy. It’s a restaurant (obviously), but the same group has also established a charity to help build gardens with nearby schools and teach the importance of growing local food. So it’s a win for everyone. And the beautiful warehouse space right on the river is a perfect place to hang out for a lazy weekend brunch.
Left Coasts’s two locations (in Lakeview and River North) serve everything from oatmeal, acai bowls, and veggie hashes to salads, healthy wraps, and cold pressed juices. Of course, they do have avocado toast (two kinds), but there are also corn tostadas with scrambled tofu or a hash with yams, red bell pepper, kale, and spinach. The idea is that you can get in and out rather quickly with something healthy, but they’ve also made it a comfortable place to sit and eat. We prefer the Lakeview location for its beach house feel and patio.
As the name suggests, this casual Wicker Park restaurant is best known for hot chocolate and desserts. But that’s not all Mindy’s is good at. While the homemade marshmallows are awesome, there are actually plenty of great brunch options, and even some healthy ones. Opt for things like homemade granola and yogurt, a quinoa bowl, or a mushroom panini in a great environment to sit and hang. Stay strong and save the dessert for another time.
If you don’t have a favorite vegetarian restaurant in Chicago, then we just decided for you - it’s Bad Hunter. The best part about this place is that people who eat meat will like it, too, because it’s a really good restaurant that just happens to serve vegetable-centric things. At brunch, you’ll have options like a butternut squash polenta or lemongrass breakfast sausage in an egg drop mushroom broth. You won’t even be mad that it’s not so bad for you.
Tweet is a funky breakfast and brunch spot in Uptown with a massive menu, and it’s been around since before “tweeting” was even a thing (for humans). They serve almost everything, from eggs and pancakes to eight different kinds of breakfast burritos, corn arepas, chilaquiles, and even a bison burger. But there’s also an extensive list of healthy options, including a dedicated gluten free menu. Get a salad, portobello burger, healthy lox plate with veggies, or even gluten free pancakes and waffles that will fool you into thinking there’s hardcore gluten in them.
3 Greens Market is basically a local community center - that’s how warm, welcoming, and versatile it is. It’s a great place to sit and get work done, with a coffee bar that doubles as cocktail bar, plus an excellent salad bar and Small Cheval style burgers (for when you’re ready to break that healthy resolution). On the weekends, a brunch buffet lets you customize your meal with a little bit of everything you like. Get some salad or a vegetable egg white frittata - there are plenty of options for a casual yet healthy meal.