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 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.
There’s an article in Chicago’s constitution that says every Big Chicago Restaurant (BCR) must, at some point, serve brunch, and we’re grateful Etta abides by it. The brunch menu here is long and has dishes like wood-fired eggs, chicken pozole, and a fantastic assortment of baked goods - including a tasty cinnamon roll you’ll probably argue with your friends over finishing. Plus, there are lots of booths and round tables perfect for groups who want to share as much as possible (other than the cinnamon roll).
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.
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.
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.
Unlike the original in Wicker Park, the Wrigleyville location of Big Star serves brunch. It has things like huevos rancheros, a carnitas and egg sandwich, and an avocado huarache that’s our current favorite version of avocado toast. You can also add eggs to the “hot chips” (a.k.a. nachos), which is something you should definitely do. So unless it’s a game day (this place is right across from the stadium and gets packed), we’ll choose this Big Star over the original.
Pacific Standard Time is a large, busy, loud restaurant in River North. So don’t come here expecting a low-key brunch, or if you’re sensitive to noise and light (a.k.a. hungover). But the food is tasty, and if you’re with a group, it’s a good non-hotel option in the neighborhood. Order anything from the wood-fired oven (like the breakfast pizza), and make sure to get some pull-apart rolls for the table.
Frunchroom is a small, counter-service spot in Portage Park. The brunch menu here is short, but they’re not wasting any space - what they do have is delicious. A particular standout is the French toast with honey tahini, and you can’t go wrong with any one of the breakfast sandwiches. It’s small and can get crowded, but if you’re near the neighborhood, it’s a great place to catch up with a friend. And just so you know, it’s BYOB.
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.