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.
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 their 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.
This new upscale diner in Uptown (which serves brunch seven days a week) is where to go when you don’t want to deal with crowds of people. It’s low-key, with comfortable booths and a long counter that’s perfect for dining solo. You can get dishes like biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles, and a peach jam French toast we’re grateful is available on Wednesdays as well as Saturdays and Sundays. Plus, the breakfast menu is available until 9pm, so you can sleep in.
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.
Most of the party spots are located in River North - but not all of them. Octavio, in Andersonville, has everything you’re looking for in a lively downtown brunch, like draft cocktails, loud music, and big booths. The Mexican food here is fine, with chilaquiles, plantain-topped French toast, and tacos made with homemade tortillas - but you’re here for the atmosphere more than a life-changing meal. Come when you need a North Side hangover brunch, or to kick off a birthday weekend.
Marisol is inside the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the food here is good enough to risk dealing with weekend tourists on the Magnificent Mile. During brunch they have sweet options like banana chocolate French toast and savory dishes like avocado toast (you should make sure at least one of those is on the table), and even though you’re technically eating inside the museum, the restaurant still feels like its own separate thing - so you don’t have to worry about being forced to look at any art unless you really want to.
This is a new Logan Square destination for a fun group brunch. It’s run by the same people who own Scofflaw (a great bar in the neighborhood), so it’s not surprising that the drinks at The Moonlighter are also very good. Plus, the huge outdoor patio is ideal for a summer hangout. As far as the food is concerned, it’s bar food, and for brunch there are menu additions like bananas foster French toast, avocado toast, and a breakfast burger. Bonus: the patio is dog-friendly.
We really like S.K.Y. in Pilsen for dinner, and brunch here is just as good. There’s a three-course, $28 menu with options like coconut pancakes, smoked salmon bao, or bacon and egg fried rice - and also an a la carte menu, if that’s what you prefer. Most of the food is Asian-fusion-ish, and everything is delicious. The space (low-key, with indie rock music playing in the background) is exactly what we’re looking for on a Sunday morning or afternoon.
This relaxed Southern bar and restaurant is perfect for day drinking, but doesn’t open until 4pm during the week. Luckily, on the weekends you can come for brunch. Their specialty is tamales, but you can also get dishes like shrimp and grits or a fried green tomato breakfast sandwich. The space seems small at first, but in the back there’s a sizeable patio, and that’s where you want to be - it’s perfect for hanging with friends and sharing vases (a.k.a. pitchers) of their cocktails.
Daisies is a pasta-focused American restaurant that uses a lot of locally grown produce. At brunch, the menu has a fair number of dishes that aren’t pasta, but still keeps a seasonal focus. They have classics like eggs benedict, and a fantastic French toast made with fermented preserves (they really like fermenting things here) and bay leaf ice cream. The space is relaxed, with an open kitchen and a back courtyard you should try to sit in when it’s nice out.
HaiSous serves Vietnamese food in an upscale but still casual space in Pilsen. Their brunch has dishes like pho, crispy rice crepes, and a grilled ribeye served with a fried egg and jasmine rice. (They also have a three-course prix fixe available for $25.) The service here is really friendly, and the food is consistently good. It’s ideal for a large group, or even just catching up with a few friends, if that’s all you have.