Passionate foodies that we are, Chicagoans expect the same level of culinary creativity at brunch as they do at any other meal, and will happily wait (and wait, and wait) to snag a table at one of the city’s buzziest spots. This midway-between-breakfast-and-lunch meal frees the following fab five to seize the start of the day, whether you like it sweet, savory or spiked.
Newcomer from “The Steves” (ex-Table 52 chefs Stephen Ross and Stephen Paul), Mortar & Pestle marries comfort and sophistication on its breakfast-and lunch-only menus in Lakeview. For fun, there’s funnel cake sprinkled with Fruity Pebbles powdered sugar, and fried cheese curds. For refinement: housemade biscuits with rich lamb sausage gravy and eggs Benedict made lighter with Alaskan king crab. 3108 N. Broadway, 773-857-2087
Specialist in the daybreak meal, Kanela Breakfast Club covers the gamut of appetites. But of special appeal in this low-fat, gluten-free age are Kanela’s healthy options, like chia seed pudding, Greek yogurt, and egg white omelets. Invite your favorite glutton, who will appreciate pork belly eggs Benedict, Nutella and marshmallow waffles, and that favorite hangover cure, chilaquiles. Multiple locations
Wicker Park’s Pub Royale, the Anglo-Indian gastropub, wins the award for least clichéd brunch in relying, as it does, on savory recipes from the subcontinent even during weekend brunch. Order potato samosas, a chicken tikka roll, or India hot chicken, or concede to breakfast with samosas and eggs or chai-spiced French toast. The chai dulce de leche doughnut is so good it remains on the dinner menu. 2049 W. Division St., 773-661-6874
For a hair-of-the-dog roost, try the riverside River Roast, concocting the “beermosa” made with OJ and white ale and the house Bloody Mary that comes with a skewer of the day—a changing selection of meats, cheeses and veggies—and a snit of Miller High Life on the side. Make rabbit and waffles and live blues music your excuses to wash one down. 315 N. LaSalle St., 312-822-0100
Lots of places boast about their eggs, but few dare to serve them as precisely as The Dearborn, which offers a 62-degree egg—the temperature at which both the yolk and the white are the same consistency—poised to gush onto duck confit and jalapeño-cheddar grits. Eggs show up again paired with fried chicken, though we don’t know which came first. 145 N. Dearborn St., 312-384-1242