TimeOut's Brunch List
So I came upon this list of "better brunch spots" from timeout Chicago and I figured it looked like a good list. I've had brunch at Jam, Sprout and The Publican. All three were very good. I'll be around this Saturday and Sunday and I'm trying to figure out where to go. How's the list look? Suggestions? I was thinking Longman and Eagle, Perennial Virant or The Bristol.
• Big Jones
• Birchwood Kitchen
• Bite Cafe
• the Bristol
• City Provisions
• Julius Meinl
• Kingsbury Street Cafe
• Longman & Eagle
• Lula Cafe
• Owen & Engine
• Perennial Virant
• the Publican
• Southport Grocery
• Table Fifty-Two
• Tre Kronor
Your choices are good ones. Depends on where you are in the city, I suppose. I also have had notable brunches at Owen & Engine, Sola and Big Jones. I'm not a big fan of Southport Grocery (others are) or of Julius Meinl.
That list is a bit of a hodge-podge. Some restaurants are known for dinner but also serve brunch on weekends; others are strictly breakfast-focused; still others are more along the lines of cafes that primarily serve coffee and pastry (Julius Meinl, Tre Kronor). It also ignores the vast majority of our breakfast-focused restaurants, including some of our very best (M. Henry / M. Henrietta, Bongo Room, Batter & Berries, etc). Another truly egregious omission is Shaw's Crab House, which has one of the very best brunches in the city. And they don't mention any of our contemporary Mexican restaurants that serve excellent brunches (Frontera Grill, Mexique, Mundial Cocina Mestiza, Salpicon).
Also note that about half of the restaurants on the list accept reservations for brunch, including on Opentable. (Note - Lula is on Opentable but only for dinner, no reservations are accepted for brunch.) At the rest, as well as the breakfast-focused restaurants that are not listed, you can typically expect waits of 25-45 minutes on weekends between 9:30 and 1:00, but little or no waiting outside of those hours or on weekdays, for places that serve brunch on weekdays. If you prefer not to wait, go to one of the places that accepts brunch reservations.
I have been to many of those restaurants, but not all of them for brunch. My favorite brunches among the breakfast-focused restaurants include Jam and Southport Grocery, as well as M. Henry, M. Henrietta, and Bongo Room. My favorite brunches among the dinner-focused restaurants include Shaw's (love the thick-cut caramelized bacon and the creme brulee!) and Big Jones (love the beignets!); I've also enjoyed the brunches at Lula, Nightwood, and Perennial (I went before Paul Virant partnered there). The only brunch on the list that I went and wasn't crazy about was Sola, and it wasn't bad, just not as impressive as the others.
I've posted detailed reports on many of the brunches I've been to in the brunch discussion at www.chow.com/topics/364403
I recommend checking out the brunch menus on the websites of any places you're considering going, to get a better idea of what they have to offer. This is often helpful when deciding on dinner, but even more so for brunch, since some restaurants have a very limited brunch menu, while others are more expansive.
Also, check the hours before heading out anywhere. Some of the places on the list only do brunch on Sundays and not Saturdays.