There are hangovers, and then there are hangovers, those times when you wake up to discover that you may or may not have thrown up inside a pair of shoes next to your bed. This is a guide for the latter. Because when you finally recover enough to move without sprinting to the nearest bathroom, you’re going to have to eat. And while we can’t do anything about the regret soaking inside of you, or whatever’s in those shoes, we can tell you where to go when you’re looking to recover.
Sometimes soup seems like the best medicine. But when the thudding in your brain feels like the drum solo from “In The Air Tonight,” ibuprofen is the actual best medicine. You can get both at Phodega, a small pho shop/bodega hybrid in Wicker Park that not only has great soup, but sells things like dish soap, paper towels, and most importantly, pills that will make Phil Collins go away.
The way you’re feeling, you can’t settle for just one plate of food. You need a buffet. But not the kind you’ll find in mid-tier hotel conference rooms. No, you need the Puerto Rican breakfast buffet at Nellie’s in Humboldt Park. In addition to breakfast classics like omelets and French toast, there are things like pastelon de huevo (egg and sweet plantain casserole) and an avena de coco (coconut oatmeal) that’s so good they literally sell it by the gallon.
We won’t say that the bagels at CBA in Lincoln Park are the best in the city. But their steamed bagel sandwiches are one of the best hangover cures next to Pedialyte and throwing your phone away for allowing you text your ex. Don’t let the massive menu overwhelm you, just order the Dank N’ Eggs (scrambled eggs, bacon, roast beef, cheese, and honey mustard) or the Crunch & Munch, where the secret ingredient is Doritos.
You can start the long road back from a hangover one of two ways: greasy fried foods that will make you immediately feel better, or eating something with nutrients to help you recover on a cellular level. Left Coast in Lakeview is where you can do the latter. It’s a counter-service spot with great-tasting healthy food, like grain and acai bowls to reactivate the neurons that short-circuited last night.
Your brain isn’t working, and the thought of reading words on a menu, memorizing those words, and reciting those words to a server feels impossible. Make things easier at Valois, an old-school cafeteria in Hyde Park. Here you can grab a tray, stand in line, and just point at things like biscuits, pancakes, and eggs. Just know that it’s cash only, so remember to grab some after you fish your wallet out of your dog’s water bowl.
If it were up to you, you would never leave the dark confines of your bedroom, but the closest thing you have to food in your room is a bamboo pillow. Go to Moody’s Pub in Edgewater. It feels like a place that was built back when electricity existed, but before people really got the hang of it. In other words, it’s a dimly-lit spot for you to eat a good burger, and even drink some more beer if you want.
Unlike your brilliant idea combining vodka with whiskey in one shot glass, putting fried chicken with biscuits is a time-tested combination. That’s what you should do at Roost, a casual fried chicken spot in Lakeview. Order the Sunrise, a chicken and biscuit sandwich that comes with a fried egg, bacon, and cheddar. And listen to your friends the next time they tell you “vodkey” shots are a bad idea.
Lincoln Park’s D Cuisine is a great Chinese restaurant, with a short dim sum menu with less than thirty things to choose from. That’s good because your brain is functioning at 1/3 its normal speed. The egg yolk buns, pork buns, and shumai are excellent here, so you can just focus on ordering those, and not get overwhelmed by 150 different options.
When you’re this hungover, you want things to go back to how they used to be, way before spiked seltzer was ever invented. Do that at Spinning J, an old-school soda fountain in Humboldt Park. This place has excellent breakfast sandwiches and cinnamon rolls. Plus, you can BYOB. So add some rum to their milkshakes and if that’ll help.
Hangovers and diners have a symbiotic relationship, like marriage counselors and divorce lawyers. You need grease, unlimited coffee, and for somebody to be nice to you. Lou Mitchell’s, an old-school diner in Greektown, has all of the above. You’ll even be handed a donut hole when you walk in the door. Get a cheesy omelet with potatoes cooked inside, say please and thank you, and allow this important relationship continue to blossom.
The burgers at The Region, a counter-service spot in Roscoe Village, look as bad as you feel. If your hangover were personified, it would be one of these burgers - meaning overflowing from their bun, and very crispy around the edges. But the important thing is that they taste fantastic. Plus, they have the perfect amount of grease to keep your body from shutting down.
We love the savory pancakes at Gaijin, a small okonomiyaki-focused Japanese restaurant in the West Loop. Maybe because they remind us of a not-terrible version of what we drunkenly throw onto a skillet when we get home from Slippery Slope at 5am - pancake batter, eggs, bacon, noodles, and hot sauce. It can get pretty loud here, so only go if you’ve already got the headache part of the morning already taken care of.
Last night opened a deep, dark hole inside of you that can only be filled with approximately 50 dumplings. The delicious broth-filled ones at QXY are an excellent way to fill that void. There are a lot of decisions to be made as you scroll through the iPad menu - like beef and onion, lamb and coriander, or pork and cabbage, and whether to get them steamed, boiled, or fried. Luckily, it’s impossible to go wrong here. Plus, that deep, dark hole inside of you isn’t very picky.
You got elbowed and spilled on, as you waited in line to buy Fireball shots for you and some random guy that you met by the jukebox. The line at Bang Bang in Logan Square is much calmer, and the reward is better - a gravy-covered biscuit, slice of pie, and a bottomless mug of coffee. Afterward, you can try to craft a polite text message saying that you actually don’t want to join the jukebox guy’s Dungeons And Dragons campaign.
You’re not sure if the ringing in your ears is from the show you saw last night at The Empty Bottle, or all of the drinks you had while you were there. Bite Cafe is the restaurant attached to the venue in Ukranian Village, and they serve a great breakfast all day, including a pork shoulder hash that you should definitely get. They probably don’t have anything there to help you with the tinnitus, or the neck strain you got from moshing, but the food will make you feel better. At least until you get a whiff of bourbon when you walk past next door.
You were irresponsible and went out on a work night. And even though you feel like you have the flu, you’re out of sick days for the year. Stop at Spoken Cafe in Ravenswood, right under the Montrose Brown Line. It has excellent breakfast sandwiches on pizza bialys and incredibly strong coffee to hold you over until you get into the office. Then the only thing you’ll have to worry about is explaining what you just poured into your coffee.