• Lobby Bar at Palmer House Hilton

In this hotel lobby, you won’t find stale bagels and a computer from the ‘90s with a dial-up connection. You will find a ridiculously ornate, almost church-like frescoed ceiling, marble columns, and a sparkling little bar serving up $13.50 cocktails including chocolate mint mojitos and Manhattans made with Palmer House-batched bourbon. Order up some lobster rolls and Angus beef sliders and charge it to the Underhills.

Seven Lions

  • Honey Butter Fried Chicken

There’s always room in our stomachs (and hearts) for a modern take on Southern comfort food. The bird here is butchered in-house and the flavor profiles are familiar but a little off-center. To wit: the sandwich is made up of a couple fried buttermilk chicken strips (as that creates space for the sweet/spicy candied jalapeño mayo sauce “to hide in”), a crunchy slaw with cabbage, pickled red onions, and a toasted soft white bun from a local baker. And despite the heat from the jalapeño, it’s cooled down by the slaw, resulting in a not-overwhelming heat from the sandwich that even people who are averse to spice can enjoy.

  • Cindy’s

What you’re getting: Cast-iron quiche Lorraine

Perched atop the newly revamped Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, this breezy 13th-floor oasis is prime for brunching with pals. Grab seats at the picnic-style tables and work your way through cast-iron quiche Lorraine with Neuske bacon, caramelized onions, Gruyere, and a frisee salad, lox and bagels, and cinnamon raisin brioche French toast topped with caramelized pineapple and vanilla crème fraiche -- all of which are served as platters designed to feed three to four hungry people; wash it all down with the Hair of the Wolf: High Life and a shot of Fidencio mezcal, fresh OJ, and Ancho Reyes liqueur with salted chocolate dust.

  • The Hampton Social

What you’re getting: A lobster BLT and a side of Old Bay fries

Head to this bright and airy new spot on Hubbard St for East Coast-inspired eats, drinks, and digs. The menu is heavy on lobster, with offerings like Montauk Mac, deviled eggs with lobster, a lobster BLT with a fried egg and avocado on multigrain, and more, and even includes bourbon caramel pecan monkey bread and milk chocolate-stuffed Belgian waffles for those who plan to spend the remainder of the day in stretchy pants. Thirsty? Try the Ketel One-based Coastal Blood with Ballast Point Bloody mix and a coastal skewer.

  • Doughnut Vault

Some like their vaults stuffed with cash, but we've always preferred ours to be piled high with fried dough confectioneries. At this Windy City institution, the staff is happy to ring up a triple chocolate or lemon poppy seed for you on the old-timey cash register, so long as they're not sold out. If they are, try your luck with its new food truck/pastry van.

  • Barcocina

What you’re getting: Chilaquiles

Settle in for a little hair of the dog and Mexican-inspired brunch eats at this trendy neighborhood spot. Drinks run the gamut from sweet to smoky to spicy, while brunch offerings like chilaquiles with pork belly, salsa verde, and a fried egg, chorizo Benedict, and brioche French toast with fried plantains, rum caramel, and candied walnuts stand alongside a selection of the eatery’s tacos, guacamole, and more.

  • RM Champagne

It doesn’t get much more beautiful than this in Chicago. But while the white tablecloths and chandeliers of the indoor space can be a little stuffy, the equally beautiful outdoor space keeps the vibe light and airy with the aid of cocktails like the bourbon- and prosecco-based Bourbon Monarchy, the whisky- and absinthe-backed Remember the Maine, and, of course, Champagnes that put that gas station bottle of Korbel from NYE to shame.

  • Ipsento

Sometimes it’s not about the fancy touches -- it’s just about the coffee. One sip of the Nutella mocha or Ipsento latte with coconut milk & honey, and you’ll swear off Starbucks for good. It's even got sandwiches named after authors (F. Scott Fitzgerald = ham; Garrison Keillor = turkey), plus books written by them (and others) on the shelves.

  • GreenRiver

GR is tucked away in a nondescript building on Northwestern's medical complex, and you’ll be glad you took the walk through the bright, sterile lobby as soon as the elevator hits the 18th floor to reveal an upscale playpen with one of the most spectacular nightscape views in the city.

While there are Irish accents, the airy, modern interior is devoid of shamrocks or Celtic fonts, there’s no need for bomb shots when you have the creative breadth of the 32 cocktails on GreenRiver’s menu. The drinks are organized by root ingredient, so take your choice of the more traditional -- The Alderman (whiskey, coffee, black walnut), Governor of Illinois (rum, Irish whiskey, port wine) -- or off-beat offerings like the Hinky Dink with rye vodka, beet juice, pistachio, and horseradish. The lineup of highballs is perfect for the outdoor terrace and a Moody Tongue Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter will keep you toasty inside while accompanying a meal of smoked whitefish tartare, chicken oysters, and saffron spaghetti with clam.

  • Bar Siena

Bar Siena might be an italian restaurant but it has proved to excel at creating any kind of fare the kitchen puts its mind to. Our pick for one of West Loop’s newest staple restaurants that’ll have everyone in your group satisfied and not wanting to leave.

  • Villains Chicago

What you’re getting: Cola-brined brisket hash

South Loop, your prayers have been answered: Villains has launched a craft beer-focused Sunday brunch. Wholesome dishes like pork head scrapple with fried farm eggs, a maple vinaigrette, and fries, cola-brined brisket hash, and drop biscuits with pork sausage gravy practically demand to be washed down with cold, brunch-appropriate suds, such as Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast stout or “Bloody Mary Beer” fermented with Roma tomatoes and spiced with dill, horseradish, peppercorns, and celery.

  • Balena

What you’re getting: Sweet crespelle

After three successful years as Lincoln Park’s premiere destination for a modern Italian dinner, this 2015 Bib Gourmand recipient has finally launched a Sunday brunch service. The promising menu showcases a variety of savory options that range from pizza topped with corn, Gorgonzola, and sweet peppers to baked eggs with caponata and fennel toast, as well as one knockout sweet dish: a sweet crespelle laden with creamy mascarpone and roasted grapes.

  • The Drifter

Plenty of bars these days are made to look like speakeasies, but this historic space beneath The Green Door Tavern (one of Chicago’s oldest bars, coincidentally) ACTUALLY IS a former speakeasy, with all the trappings that entails. There’s dusty vintage décor, a small performance stage, and a secretive entrance down the stairs in the back.

The Drifter sets itself apart from cookie-cutter speakeasy contemporaries with touches like drinks printed on tarot cards, burlesque dancers, and all manner of offbeat entertainment including Hollywood-themed parties and something called a “séance cabaret” (for partying with ghosts, apparently?). Of course no ghost party is complete without absinthe-based drinks like the Susie Abyss or the tequila and jalapeño soda-infused Dingo Stole My Baby. For extra credit, pair rotating beers like the bourbon barrel-aged Allagash Curieux tripel with sausage-stuffed peppers and salt & vinegar chickpea bar snacks.

  • Bohemian House

This Michelin-starred chef loves having brunch at Bohemian House, and with its eclectic mix of Czech- and Eastern European-inspired eats, it’s hard to blame him. “It’s delicious, chef-driven, and cooked with care,” he says. His menu picks include the Hungarian langos, a hearty fried potato bread coated in garlic butter, sour cream, and aged Gouda, and the open-faced pork schnitzel sandwich served atop a thick slice of rye with horseradish cream, sauerkraut, Emmentaler cheese, and a runny fried egg.

  • The Happy Camper

The same fine folks that brought you Homeslice have made it their mission to bring exceedingly great pizza to the decidedly pizza-deficient (save for chains) streets of Old Town. The space is heavily outfitted with wood and centers around an Airstream camper parked inside, while menu items range from a swath of thin-crust pizzas like the Italian sausage-topped Benjamin to familiar favorites like beer-basted breadsticks served with goat cheese marinara dipping sauce.

  • Son of a Butcher Tavern

What you’re getting: Piggie by the pound

This laid-back gastropub hosts a meat-centric Cochon Brunch every weekend packed with protein-rich dishes, such as the wallet-friendly “piggie by the pound,” lamb sausage, rosemary orange biscuits doused in homemade chorizo gravy and pickled golden raisins, and beef navel pastrami Benedict. Offset all that meat with a side of grilled corn or “spuddies” with tarragon aioli dipping sauce.

  • Best Peruvian: Tanta

This Downtown hotspot brought Peruvian fare to the mainstream when it opened in 2013, and has remained the city’s preeminent destination for the vibrant South American cuisine ever since. Go for the pisco-soaked cocktail program; stay for causitas, tiraditos, and our favorite: the hearty pork fried rice with a shrimp tortilla and spicy garlic.

  • Best burger joint: Au Cheval

The wait times exist for a reason, people: the coveted single burger, which originated at Brendan Sodikoff’s West Loop goldmine and confusingly comes with two patties, is worth the often extreme lengths it takes to procure it. What makes it so great? A winning combination of a perfect meat-to-bun ratio, Kraft American cheese (we kid you not), house Dijonnaise and pickles, thick slabs of bacon, and a runny fried egg.

  • Cheesie's Pub and Grub

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Probably... but when chicken tenders are involved, the more excess, the better. This is exactly how people in Chicago think, God bless their gluttonous hearts. Cheesie's Tenderizer (pictured above) features tenders, mozz, cheddar, bacon, hot sauce, and Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce squeezed between two slices of thick Texas toast. And this is just a single offering from the menu that features a dozen other cheesy iterations, all of which come with a distinct dipping sauce (the Tenderizer comes with ranch, just so you know). Dipping your GC in ranch is totally acceptable, unlike other comfort foods.


DARIEN If music isn’t your thing, maybe slide over to Darien and enjoy a little literature-inspired brewery. Of course, rather than reading, the “chapter series” at Miskatonic, you drink each chapter as it is “written.” The owners’ combined resume includes lengthy experiences at Two Brothers, Goose Island, and Gordon Biersch, thus brewing styles of all types fill Miskatonic’s menu. Like the beer served at Miskatonic, the story of Miskatonic Brewing taproom involves many twists and turns. While there, one can sit in a traditional taproom with shiny vats in plain view, the English Pub room, or sit outside on the patio.

  • Beatrix

Given the success of its original location in River North, it’s no surprise that Lettuce Entertain You’s hipster-friendly coffee house and restaurant would open a second location. The new outpost, located in Northwestern Memorial Hospital, serves the same health-driven comfort foods you know and love, like bruleed oatmeal and quinoa chili, and also showcases a new “Market @ Beatrix” addition flush with grab-and-go meals and snacks and a “chocolate closet” replete with gift boxes and candies.

  • Best steakhouse: Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf

Chicago’s teeming with quality steakhouses, but there can only be one king of carnivory, and that king is Brendan Sodikoff’s unequivocally great speakeasy-style steakhouse. Have your boeuf any way you want it (with frites, bone in, dry aged, smothered in bearnaise), and when asked if you’d like to “enhance” it with roasted bone marrow, the answer is always “yes.”

  • 3 Arts Club Cafe

Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for: a restaurant within a Restoration Hardware store so we can eat over an industrial-chic TV stand. New from Brendan Sodikoff (Au Cheval, Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf), this convenient all-day café slings everything from Doughnut Vault donuts and an RH scramble (free-range farm eggs, avo, crème frâiche, and chives) to a French cheese board and a grass-fed beef burger, and, to further soften the blow of said TV stand, a curated wine and beer list.


No, it’s not a library cleverly disguised as a museum. This is, in fact, the first museum of its kind in the nation. And it sits right in the heart of downtown Chicago (practically across the street from Millennium Park). There are *slightly nerdy* games (match the quote with the author); there’s a banned book display; you can sit at the writer’s table and type your masterpiece on vintage typewriters; and you can even check out the original roll of paper Jack Kerouac used when he wrote On The Road. Essentially, there’s plenty to do here for book lovers, writers and anyone who has ever touched pen to paper and enjoyed the experience.

  • Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

When your breakfast stop is a pie shop that bakes with leaf lard -- the highest grade of pork lard known to man -- you know you're in good hands. Bang Bang's small-batch sour cream biscuits are every bit as high quality as its slate of pies. Your entry point is the far-from-basic sausage biscuit, which stacks soft-as-clouds biscuits with sage sausage, sawmill gravy, seasonal jelly, and a poached egg (which is a must-add).

  • Best food truck: The Fat Shallot

A play on Chicago’s nickname, “The Big Onion,” this mobile kitchen slings a short but sweet lineup of sandwiches, fries, and desserts. Track the truck down on social media and keep that dad bod looking fresh with a BLT loaded with fancy extras like arugula, avocado, and truffle aioli, an order of spicy sesame aioli-covered fries, and two of whatever the daily dessert special is.

  • Imperial Lamian

Imperial Lamian’s menu is made for sharing. The River North Chinese restaurant serves a variety of small plates featuring ten different options of Dim Sum and six varieties of Xiao Long Bao (otherwise known as soup dumplings)

  • Pub Royale

What you’re getting: Stuffed paratha and donut

Brunch gets an Indian twist at this hipster-friendly Division St newcomer, where offerings range from paratha stuffed with bacon, potato, and cheese with a fried egg to a massive twisted donut coated in a spicy-sweet chai dulce de leche glaze. Quench your thirst with an irresistible brunch cocktail, like the Bloody Maharani made with tomato, lemon, and lime juices, hot sauce, and mitha misala.

  • Lincoln Square

Should you do choose the Big Joe’s adventure (which you should at some point), be sure to grab seats early and consult the dos and don’ts of turtle racing beforehand.

nov 16 2015 ∞
nov 9 2018 +