Benedicts, bloody marys, and bacon aplenty, there’s much to love about brunch. Chicago chefs have taken notice, too, delivering menus brimming with morning-to-afternoon fare so tasty, it warrants its own wait lists—and reservations (rivaling those of dinner hours, to boot).
From a seasonally driven mainstay in Logan Square to a vegetable-centric newcomer in Wicker Park, here are five of the best brunches in Chicago worth booking now.
Housed in Bucktown’s iconic Northwest Tower, Café Robey serves all meals for its hotel guests and neighborhood denizens alike. Brunch is a must, thanks to comfort-driven courses and tons of dreamy daylight filtering through the windows (making for covetable Instagram photos). Chef Kevin McAllister helms the menu, a collection of crowd-pleasing plates like duck hash with potatoes and fried eggs, Meyer lemon stuffed French toast, and Nashville hot chicken with chili oil and butter pickles. Pair it with an array of flavor-packed libations such as the Mad King, which marries brandy with cold brew, crème de cacao, and nutmeg.
This neighborhood restaurant has become a fast favorite for a wide array of food lovers, from the city’s local dining crowd to off-duty chefs and out-of-towners. You can credit that fanfare to the restaurant’s dedication of using seasonal produce, handmade pastas, and a nose-to-tail approach to cooking, plus a beverage program that competes with the best. Those draws carry over to brunch hours, when chef Todd Stein serves plates like braised pork chilaquiles, mushroom toast, and fried egg BLTs. Top it all off with the pastry board, sampling sweets like giant cinnamon rolls, house-made coffee cake, and the team’s specialty: a Basque cake with seasonal fruit jam and toasted almonds.
Ever since chef Jason Hammel and team opened this Logan Square institution nearly 20 years ago, brunch revelers have come to know Lula Café intimately. This market-driven food venue gained a loyal following for its focus on one fundamental principle: constant creativity inspired by the smallest moments of the season. As such, expect menus showcasing ingredients at their peak, with brunch being no exception. Spring onion grits incorporate a farm egg, green olives, and tomatillo; a potato crepe meets cauliflower, confit fennel, and manchego; and asparagus is served with Skyr, burnt orange, and crispy grains. Find that thoughtful approach in tipples, too; the Classic Lula ’99 bloody mary goes beyond the norm, thanks to additions of sambal and lemongrass.
This Hyde Park hangout has it all: live music, serious cocktails, and hearth-based cooking delivering comfort-driven takes on Modern American fare. Find it in brunch items like the fried oyster benedict with crispy fried West Coast oysters and hot sauce hollandaise, or the dulce de leche French toast, complete with toasted pecans and hearth-grilled bananas. Even the cocktails are grilled—the Promontory Paloma incorporates house-made charred grapefruit soda.
Vegetables are the focus at this Wicker Park restaurant, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary this May. There’s an entire section on the menu dedicated to produce-driven plates, such as broccoli with achiote and avocado, or spring peas with sunflower seeds. Come brunch, see that philosophy take an AM approach: Avocado pancakes are topped with honeycomb and grapefruit, while a veggie omelet combines kale and marinated mushrooms. Find a vitamin boost in the carrot margarita, a vibrant orange serving of reposado tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde, and carrot juice.