March 11, 2015

The Definitive Ranking: The Six Best Brunch Spots in Chicago

I lived in Chicago for about a year and a half, during which I had the good fortune to experience a record-breaking winter.

Record-breaking snow and record-breaking days with a temperature below zero, to be specific.

It got better once we uninstalled the window air-conditioning unit (which I had bought to cool my 100-year-old studio apartment) which was letting in a -15 degree draft, but it still was a long, hard winter with more memories of frozen-numb toes than I really care to remember.

But you know what? I wish I could have lived there for a little bit longer for basically one reason and one reason alone: brunch.

Now, I know that you can't justify turning down an awesome job offer for bacon and biscuits... but I was close. Which is why I am beyond pumped that Derrick and I are planning on taking a trip back there in the near future to visit.

At this point, the trip is still sort of like Jesus's second coming (somewhat vaguely timed but still believed by many to eventually happen). But I'm excited nonetheless. So excited, in fact, that I spent a whole evening going through my Chicago blog (Not Before my Tea) so I could rank my favorite brunch spots in the city.

You could call this my trip's itinerary.

The Peasantry || Review
2723 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

Price: $$$
The Good: the Bloody Maria
The Bad: the portions

The best part about the Peasantry is the atmosphere followed closely by the Bloody Maria. (I.e., a Bloody Mary with tequila instead of vodka.) They do also have the best grits I've ever had but since they're also the only grits I've ever had, I guess they were also the worst.

The downside is that they're annoyingly overpriced, especially when you consider that they serve (as Derrick would call them) little person portions.

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! || Review
2024 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614

Price: $$$$
The Good: the best Bloody Mary bar in all of Chicago
The Bad: the price

To be fair, I've only actually been to two Bloody Mary bars in Chicago.

But I have tried at least 20 different Marys and I would be willing to bet at least two non-thumb fingers that you're not going to find one with better quality garnishes than Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!'s. (And their homemade mixes aren't a joke either.)

The food is also amazing but a little bit too pricey for it to be just "one of the guys" in terms of brunch spots. (Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! is more like that swanky dude with the Apple watch eating organic quinoa.)

However, I'd definitely say it's worth the occasional splurge.

2858 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60657

Price: $
The Good: their sports affiliation
The Bad: the crowd on game day

I found George Street Pub after Googling "Ravens bars in Chicago," which might make me a little biased. In reality, GSP is just your standard, unassuming sports bar; not a lot of flash or glam, but quite a few TVs, screaming fans, and typical bar fare.

However, the "typical bar fare" is awesome and their Bloody Marys are surprisingly one of the best I had in Chicago.

GSP was (literally) right around the corner from our apartment so on the days when the wind chill was particularly devastating, this was our go-to. Without fail, I'd always order a blue cheese, bacon, and egg sandwich with a bacon Bloody yet somehow, I was surprised every weekend at how good it was.

3155 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60657

Price: $$$
The Good: the atmosphere
The Bad: the portions

DryHop brews their own beer in their brewery, which you can see from your table. It's sort of neat and I don't even like beer.

DryHop is unfortunately one of those places that serves impossibly small sized portions at regular portion price. But then again, they serve things like "the Captain's French Toast" (Challah bread dipped in a rum-spiked egg and cream batter, crusted in Captain Crunch cereal, and accompanied by liquid cheesecake, blueberries, and warm bourbon maple syrup).

So yeah, they get a pass.

3415 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60657

Price: $
The Good: literally everything
The Bad: literally nothing

The only reason that Ann Sather isn't number one is because I like numerically logical lists. But seriously, everything about Ann Sather is good. If I had to give you one piece of advice, it'd be that you must order Ann's homemade cinnamon rolls. (If you wanted a second piece of advice, it'd be to not eat dinner the night before.)

Ann Sather is also BYOB which means it's up to you to bring the champagne for your strawberry mimosas. But on the bright side, it also means you can buy a $2 bottle at WalMart and have five mimosas for the price of one.

I've never met the actual Ann of Ann Sather but I can tell you one thing: I'll be utterly shocked if she's not canonized the next canoniziation go-around. Because good lord, the woman's a saint.

1851 W Addison St
Chicago, IL 60613

Price: $$
The Good: the biscuits and doughnuts
The Bad: it's closed

I was on the phone with Derrick when I realized that Endgrain had closed and to quote him, "That reaction is only acceptable if someone died, Nicole."

But reading that my favorite spot in Chicago closed to "reconceptualize the menu" felt a little bit like a dear friend had passed away. And I mean, this place offered a Bloody Mary with a biscuit on top; what more could one possibly hope to conceptualize?!

I know that I should have taken it off my list once I realized that this doughnut and biscuit haven, this true display of human ingenuity and goodness, was closed but I'm just not ready to let it go yet. Plus, there's still hope that it might reopen.

And for all that is good, holy, and powdered in sugar... I pray that it does.

If you're from Chicago, please leave me a comment if you think I've left anything off this list!
We're only planning on going for a few days but no one said brunch can't be a 24 hour activity.