Best Places to Brunch in February
Wondering where to eat brunch this weekend? In honor of Valentine's month, this week's roundup is all about indulgent sweets. From croissants to piled-high French toast, here's our picks for the top brunch spots in Chicago this month:
Latinicity Launches Brunch: The hulking food hall on the third floor of Block 37 in the Loop is good at many things. It has great cocktails at the bar, a well-oiled tapas restaurant, several food stalls, a market, a coffee shop, and even an art gallery. So it makes sense to add brunch to the mix. Starting February 21, brunch will be served every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. at Latinicity. Unlike any brunch program in Chicago, this one is in line with the food hall's sprawling format, wherein brunch dishes will be available at each food stall throughout the floor. Guests can rove around as they please and order a la carte or they can opt for unlimited food and two brunch cocktails for $25, or unlimited food and fountain drinks for $17. Crazy bargain. Brunch dishes look to be some of the most unique we've seen in a while, including the egg aeropuerto made with crispy noodles, fried rice, meats, seafood, poached egg, and chaufa sauce; the waffle bacon burger with Belgium-style waffle, choriburger, bacon, chipotle cheese sauce, and pico de gallo; and breakfast tacos filled with fried egg, short rib barbacoa, adobo mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, avocado, and pickled fresno. For brunch cocktails, expect tequila-based Bloody Marias, Micheladas, and mimosas made with lavender and pear puree.
Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits Updates its Menu: Steak & eggs, breakfast flatbreads, and spaghetti carbonara are some of the newest additions to Autre Monde's brunch menu, and some of the newest reasons for you to set your alarm on Sundays. The weekend menu is already chock full of unique and enticing dishes, like lamb hash, and now there's more to love about this Berwyn destination. The steak & eggs features wood-grilled steak with fried eggs and chimichurri, while the flatbread contains caramelized onions, lardon, and eggs. The carbonara skews classic, outfitted with handmade pasta, black pepper, lardon, egg, and Parmesan. Brunch cocktails are equally special, with newcomers like the Rosemary Sour with bourbon, lemon, maple, and rosemary; and the Astoria Rosa with gin, Acha Spanish Vermouth, Mezzodi Amaro, and orange bitters. The kids' menu has some exciting new additions as well, from Nutella French toast to Spanish croquetas. Brunch is served every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Drink Up at Band of Bohemia: Anyone who has yet dined at Ravenswood's new "culinary brewhouse" knows that drinking is paramount. Be it house-brewed beers, intricate cocktails from an Aviary vet, or a meticulous coffee program, you can't go wrong with the beverage program here. With their recently launched brunch, the Band has some pretty cool a.m. cocktails to join the roster. Chief among them is the Bohemian Hooch #2, a drink made with apple cider liqueur, apple bitters, lemon, Saigon tea, rye, and a flavorful rim of salt, sugar and lemon zest.
Bongo Room: A conversation about sweet, decadent brunch dishes in Chicago must start with Bongo Room. This longstanding, perpetually packed brunch icon (currently with three locations in the city) still draws hordes of hungry brunchers, many of whom have ravenous sweet tooths. Sure you can get eggs and breakfast burritos here, but most know that Bongo Room is famed for their pancakes and French toast dishes that lean more towards over-the-top dessert than breakfast. The notorious weekend-only "chocolate tower" French toast, for instance, is a veritable skyscraper of chocolate chunk bread (cake, basically) stuffed with maple mascarpone, banana creme brulee sauce, and shaved chocolate. Other sweet dishes change seasonally, with examples ranging from cranberry-orange pancakes with gingersnap crumbs to caramelized apple hotcakes with cranberry-apple butter and red velvet pancakes slathered in mascarpone cream.
Cafe Marie-Jeanne: This Humboldt Park newcomer is a casual cafe by day and bistro by night, and it does everything well. In the morning, Cafe Marie-Jeanne features numerous pastries that have the capacity to become instant Chicago classics. The baba au rhum is irresistible, and you'll literally see brioche rolls soaking in jars of rum as you enter the restaurant. There's also Gianduja croissants, which are leaps and bounds better than your standard chocolate croissants. Plus, praline monkey buns, a nice departure from the typical praline sticky buns. Across the board, Cafe Marie-Jeanne does a wonderful job expounding upon classic, beloved pastries and making them even better.
Waffles: They may come in waffle shape, but make no mistake about it, the sweets at Waffles are unabashedly dessert-y. Red velvet waffles come strewn with vanilla cream cheese, chocolate sauce, and fresh strawberries, while chocolate waffles literally come a la mode with a dollop of strawberry ice cream. Then there's the Liege waffle, a dense Belgian classic studded with pearl sugar, which here gets the added benefit of chocolate chips and berries.
A10: Some of the best, most underrated and destination-worthy pastries can be found at Hyde Park's A10, when incredible baked goods set the tone for a memorable European-accented brunch. Items change fairly seasonally here, but one quick glance at any given brunch menu confirms their merits. The brioche cinnamon roll is killer, doughy, liberally frosted, and gooey throughout, while the humble-sounding chocolate-glazed doughnut deserves ranking among the best in Chicago. Other sweets include sweet potato coffee cake and oatmeal pancakes with cherries and cream cheese.
Little Goat: A place like Little Goat, which is unabashedly indulgent and excessive in all the right ways, is a prime spot for saccharine supremacy. This neo-diner fuses dessert and breakfast together in impressive new ways, such as those incomparable fluffy crumpets soaked in chorizo maple syrup, dark chocolate pancakes with chocolate malt butter, and Fat Elvis waffles with banana, bacon maple syrup, and peanut butter butter. Yes, butter that has been mixed with peanut butter.
Southport Grocery & Cafe: Long before Gianduja croissants and chorizo-maple crumpets, there were cupcake pancakes and grown-up "Pop Tarts" at Southport Grocery & Cafe. For years, this Lakeview staple has been a steady hot spot for refined brunch indulgence. Customers still line up in droves for a taste of those modern Pop Tarts, which consist of soft, sweet pastry folded around fruit preserves, mascarpone, and vanilla walnuts. Plus, grilled cinnamon-walnut-sour cream coffee cake, bread pudding pancakes, and the cupcake pancakes made with vanilla cupcake batter from Southport's famous cupcakes.