5 Kickass…Chicago Brunches
After a Saturday night out, there’s no better way than brunch to cure that Sunday hangover. Whoever came up with the option of having both breakfast and lunch, while sipping on a Bloody Mary or mimosa, is a genius. Chicago’s brunch scene is flourishing and many neighborhood bars and restaurants have jumped on the mid-afternoon bandwagon.
3839 N. Central Ave
The $10 all you can drink self serve Bloody Mary bar is worth the trip out to Portage Park’s newest brunch spot. Your server brings you out a generous glass of vodka and you make your way to the bar, where two large pitchers of both spicy and mild Bloody Mary mixes await. Next to the pitchers are large stuffed olives, slices of pepperoni, green peppers, and other garnishes. With a deal like this, I thought the staff would rush customers. Lucky for me, they didn’t.
The menu is a la carte and puts a unique twist on classic American favorites. I had the chicken fried steak and two-eggs, served with hearty roasted potatoes. The portion size was generous and I spent my time filling up while enjoying a Bloody Mary…or two. If you aren’t as hungry as their main dishes call for, go for the appetizers.
The restaurant itself is fairly small but a large outdoor patio compensates for this. Prices are a bit steeper than some of the other brunch options on our list but it’s worth it. Brunch is served between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sundays, with a menu that changes seasonally. Reservations are not required but recommended.
2100 W. Irving Park
O’Donovan’s brunch is one of the best ways to kick off an afternoon of football. Their Sunday brunch lasts until 2p.m. and is buffet style for $14. You can eat all of the breakfast, and some of the lunch, staples you want. The menu offers a wide variety of options and includes scrabbled eggs, made to order omelettes and waffles, biscuits and gravy, carved ham, cookies, a chocolate fountain and more.
There are plenty of drink specials including $5 “White Trash” Mimosas and “Fat” Mary’s, a Bloody Mary served in a large glass with a very large double shot of Fat Tire beer on the side.
Unlike many of the bars in the area, O’Donovan’s has its own private parking lot. Their outdoor beer garden and sidewalk cafe is phenomenal—large and spacious with plenty of seating, a full service bar, flat screen TVs.
1904 W. North Avenue
With brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., there’s no reason not to check out Lokal. Located in Wicker Park, the decor is modern. The records hang from the walls, artwork displayed against the exposed brick, and a large chalkboard menu listing drink options.
Similar to The Portage, Lokal offers $7 bottomless mimosas and $9 bottomless Bloody Marys. However, their “bottomless” drinks end when your meal does and any refills thereafter are $2 each.
3001 N Ashland Avenue
A no-frills neighborhood pub, Temple Bar offers plenty of TVs, a few cozy booths, bar tables, and an ample outdoor sidewalk cafe that seats up to 90. Like Lokal, their brunch is offered on Saturdays and Sundays, only from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.
There are no menu substitutions but, for being a la carte, their menu is pretty affordable with a dish never costing above $11. Also, since it’s an Irish pub brunch options include dishes that aren’t offered at other places on our list. Think fish and chips or an Irish breakfast of sausage and eggs with rashers, black and white pudding, baked beans, toast, and breakfast potatoes.
2119 S. Halsted Street
Restaurants that take brunch reservations are quickly becoming my new favorite trend. There’s nothing worse than waiting an hour for brunch on the sidewalk when you’re starving and hungover. Nightwood takes reservations, and it’s a good thing since there isn’t much to explore immediately surrounding the restaurant. They’ve got a cute outdoor patio as well as tables facing the kitchen so you can watch the action if you’re too hungover to talk.
The menu changes daily to use what’s in season, so count on lots of fresh and inventive options. One thing that’s a mainstay? The bacon butterscotch donuts. Get more than one for the table to share and trust me, you will not leave disappointed. In fact you’ll leave wanting more. Even the “tots” are better than average, more like bite sized fresh hash-browns than your normal frozen tot. Brunch cocktails are simple, yet satisfying and Intelligentsia is served. Can’t go wrong with any of that.