Bistro Zinc (1131 N. State St., 312-337-1131). Surprisingly, this rustic French restaurant draws more of a neighborhood crowd on Sunday mornings—even though it’s in the heart of tourist central. They’re coming for the uncomplicated selections of traditional favorites like brioche French toast with vanilla mascarpone and fresh berries, an outstanding crepe selection (French ham Dijonnaise, granola and yogurt, banana and nutella) and of course steak frites. Prices range $6.95-$18.95.
Bongo Room (1152 S. Wabash Ave., 312-291-0100/1470 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-489-0690). For years, this Bucktown/Wicker Park staple is where everyone in the ‘hood flocked every Saturday and Sunday morning. And if you got there after 11:00 a.m., you knew you were in for a serious wait. They’ve added another location in the South Loop, and while it’s not as busy as the original, customers still go nuts over the flapjacks and French toast. How can you choose with options like White Chocolate & Mixed Berry Cheesecake graham cracker crusted flapjacks; Strawberry-Mango French Toast; Oreo Banana Pancakes; and Lemon-Buttermilk Hotcakes? If it’s too early in the morning for something so sweet, Bongo Room’s also famous for its omelets, where you can get just about any filling. $4-$10.
Feast (1616 N. Damen Ave., 773-772-7100). Another Bucktown/Wicker Park favorite, this restaurant offers a more comfort-food vibe and family-friendly atmosphere. Try to nab a seat near the fireplace in the winter and in the summer you must sit on the patio or on the sidewalk café. About the food: Go for the Garbage Omelet (with bacon, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses with feast potatoes; NO substitutions!), Steak Benedict or their most popular no-brainer, the Feast Grand Slam, with two eggs with bacon, sausage links, Feast potatoes and toast. $6.50-$11.50.
Fiddlehead Café (4600 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-751-1500). Don’t sleep on Lincoln Square when it comes to brunch. There’s more to weekend breakfast than the Daily Bar & Grill (4560 N. Lincoln Ave.) and Costello’s Sandwiches & Sides (4647 N. Lincoln Ave.) when you’re in the mood for something more offbeat. Newcomer Fiddlehead has all the makings of becoming a legend in these parts, especially with pleasing offerings like Cap’n Crunch French Toast (with peanut butter and maple syrup), the popular Truffled Eggs (a serving of soft scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms, truffled goat cheese and arugula in a puff pastry) and a braised pork sandwich. $4.95-$12.95. Flo (1434 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-0477). It’s cheap, it’s sweet—yet tiny—so it’s inevitable that there’s always a wait outside on the weekends. The faithful Ukrainian Village crowd seems to think it’s worth waiting for the delightful Mexican-American fare that includes Blueberry French Toast, Huevos Rancheros (a classic New Mexico red chile enchilada filled with cheddar cheese, topped with two eggs over medium) and Flo's Original Burrito that’s stuffed with scrambled eggs, pickled jalapenos, roasted poblanos, pico de gallo, cheddar cheese and sour cream. $5.50-$7.95.
Moonshine (1824 W. Division St., 773-862-8686). By night, it’s a booming lounge with deejays spinning underground house and hip-hop. And on weekends . . . what’s that?! The deejays are back to spin for brunch as the sleepy neighborhood crowd drifts in. There are plenty of places to settle in at this Ukrainian Village hang, from the bar to the scattered tables to the loungy area near the fireplace (head outside for the spacious sidewalk café in the summer). The menu is all over the place, which is probably why patrons love it. You can get a Country Fried Steak & Eggs, “Green Eggs” & Ham, Sausage or Bacon, blueberry flapjacks, fish tacos or a simple burger. Mojitos, Mimosas and the Bloody Mary bar are also especially big hits. $3.50-$9.50.
NoMI (800 N. Michigan Ave., 312-239-4030). Saturday brunch at the Park Hyatt’s award-winning, Mag Mile restaurant is less formal with a la carte selections like maki rolls ($9-$22), buttermilk pancakes with sliced banana and fresh coconut ($13), and a $27 New York Strip Steak sandwich. So, you’re better off coming in on Sunday and plopping down the $55 per person ($27 for children 21 and under) for the same stuff, served buffet style. Also, don’t miss the Cassoulet of Amish Chicken, Eggs Benedict “NoMI” (poached egg with sautéed arugula, lobster medallion and Hollandaise sauce), and the patisserie for the housemade pastries and chocolate fountain.
North Pond (2610 N. Cannon Dr., 773-477-5845). Go all out for your loved one with one of the city's most romantic brunches, which overlooks Lincoln Park's pond. Your focus, of course, will be on each other as you nosh on Bruce Sherman's seasonal offerings. Right now, he's serving items like stone ground oatmeal with whipped cream, caramelized pears, almonds and cinnamon; a spice-rubbed Hangar steak; a pan-browned Rainbow trout; and dark chocolate sorbet accompanied by mint ice cream, cocoa cookie ganache and a salted butter cracker. $32 per person.
Rockit Bar & Grill (22 W. Hubbard St., 312-645-6000). Occasional live acoustic artists, multiple screens showing the big games and lots of eye candy (both male and female!) are reasons enough to make your way to this River North restaurant/bar for brunch. Oh, and the food too, which is an update on childhood favorites like Pecan Nut Butter & Jelly French Toast, corned beef hash (with melted cheddar and Jack cheese) and the breakfast burrito. $8-$12.
Rodan (1530 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-276-7036). This is the “secret” place where folks go when they’re too impatient to wait for a table at Wicker Park’s Bongo Room. And thankfully Rodan, a stylish lounge with deejays every night, doesn’t disappoint with its offbeat, exotic menu items: Argentine Omelet (green bell and jalapeno pepper, onion, Chihuahua cheese, chorizo sausage and bacon); Stuffed French Toast (fresh seasonal fruit nestled inside a thick slice of toasted challah); and Arepas & Black Beans (pan-fried corncakes made of white and yellow corn, set in roasted poblano-tomatillo sauce). $3-$12.
Salpicon (1252 N. Wells St., 312-988-7811). The colorful, Old Town Mexican restaurant feels like a party on weekend mornings. First they encourage you to get liquored up with a number of Champagne cocktails and Bloody Marys (with premium tequila!). Then they want you to dig in to their signature breakfast entrees like the Pollo en Mole Poblano (Miller’s Farm free-range chicken breasts charcoal-grilled; topped with Pueblan mole) and Huevos a la Mexicana (eggs scrambled with tomato, onion, serrano chiles and smoked bacon; served with black beans). $12-$17. Sepia (123 Jefferson St., 312-441-1920). The Bacon Bloody Mary is getting all the buzz at this red hot West Loop eatery that’s caught the eye of critics all across the country. What complements a Bacon Bloody Mary? How about the Lamb Sausage Omelet with heirloom tomatoes and herbs, a Smoked Salmon Brioche Sandwich or the Soufflé Pancake with housemade jam? Oh, and if you’ve got room, get the duck fat crisped potatoes or buttermilk biscuits on the side. $6-$15.
Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap (1970 N. Lincoln Ave., 312-642-0007). The old-school, roadside-looking diner somehow works for the trendy Lincoln Park crowd frequenting this corner bar/restaurant every Saturday and Sunday. And, unlike many of its counterparts, Stanley’s doesn’t get fancy at all with homestyle offerings like buttermilk fried chicken with waffles, biscuits and gravy, and mashed potatoes and gravy. Want more, and more and more? The setup is buffet-style, so you can go back as often as you’d like. $11.95 per person (also 32 oz. make-your-own Effen Bloody Marys for $10).
Toast (2046 N. Damen Ave., 773-772-5600/746 W. Webster Ave, 773-935-5600). It’s sort of like Bongo Room, because of the quirky hotcake and French toast offerings, but this favorite among the stroller set has its own identity. Both locations in Lincoln Park and Bucktown boast the same, addictive menu, with temptations like the grilled cheese with proscuitto; Crabby Eggs Benedict (two English muffins layered with lightly grilled snow crab topped with a poached egg and drizzled with a white truffle hollandaise sauce) and the French Toast Orgy (with plain pureed strawberry or mascarpone filled French toast, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and honey). For some odd reason only the Lincoln Park location serves Mimosas, the Monster Bloody Mary and Screwdrivers.
Victory’s Banner (2100 W. Roscoe St., 773-665-0227). There's just something about this vegetarian Roscoe Village eatery that drives foodies nuts. Ditto goes for their award-winning French toast (for only $5.95) that's absolutely dreamy with peach butter and thick maple syrup. Or, for a little umph to your selection, get it with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar for $7.45. And, for something completely new, go for the Uppama—India’s answer to Cream of Wheat—a savory hot cereal with peas, tomatoes and onions, served with a sweet coconut chutney and yogurt for $5.95.