If you haven’t been to Bat 17 yet, put down this magazine and go. Bat is a loud, college-friendly establishment that doubles as a nighttime sports bar, and, to many students’ surprise, it is also a popular brunch spot. In the morning hours (and until 10pm), stop in for Bat 17’s famous Balawat, a giant breakfast sandwich that comes in four varieties and is served on Bennison’s Bakery fresh sourdough bread. Though the breakfast sandwiches are certainly the way to go, Bat 17 also serves up sweet French toast dishes, savory corned beef hash ($12.39), and four kinds of flapjacks. The pub’s creative breakfast menu and free unlimited coffee bar make for a fun, filling and memorable brunch. Best of all, there will be leftovers, which makes up for the higher-than-expected prices. If you want to beat the crowds, show up early, since Bat doesn’t take reservations. And if you want to skip the wait altogether, order your breakfast Balawat to go.
Brunch Sun 10am–10pm, Mon-Thurs 11am–10pm, Fri 11am–11pm, Sat 10am–11pm
1709 Benson Avenue — Chicago
Located just a few blocks from the Bryn Mawr El stop, m. henry is an Andersonville establishment that has mastered the art of both sinfully sweet and satisfyingly savory brunch dishes.
The lengthy menu means difficult decision-making but the staff is attentive and always happy to answer questions. And it doesn’t hurt that they provide endless streams of Chicago-roasted coffee. In addition to the extensive breakfast, lunch and brunch menus, m.henry offers daily specials that embody the restaurant’s slogan, “chow for now,” advocating fresh, seasonal and local ingredients combined in inventive ways.
Fannie’s Killer Fried Egg Sandwich ($9.25) is a must-have. The fresh-baked sourdough bread has just the right amount of chew to complement the thick-cut bacon in all its crispy glory. The richness of the impeccably fried eggs is balanced by slices of ripe Roma tomato and the salty kick of crumbled gorgonzola. The sandwich comes with crispy house potatoes covered in the chef’s special seasoning blend and topped with garlic, green onion and red pepper.
On the opposite end of the brunch spectrum sits the much-acclaimed blisscakes. These cakes are offered in a variety of flavors and come in half orders too, allowing for ample sharing. Fluffy and thick cakes swim in a sauce bursting with berry flavor and are topped with crunchy granola that adds textural contrast. The cakes would have been too sweet if not for the layer of vanilla mascarpone sandwiched between them.
Brunch Tues–Fri 7am–3pm, Sat–Sun 8am–3pm
5707 North Clark Street — Chicago
The Lucky Platter
The Lucky Platter, an eclectic restaurant that’s perfect for a lazy morning brunch, is located on Main Street just a few minutes from campus.
The restaurant’s brunch items may look standard, but they far exceed any brunch-fanatic’s expectations. The cinnamon raisin French toast ($7) is prepared with thick, crusty whole grain bread, making it filling, hearty and never soggy. The French toast is paired with Lucky Platter’s homemade apple cider syrup, which complements the rich cinnamon and sweet raisins in the bread, and the dish is topped with sweet, fresh strawberries.
The fried green tomato benedict ($8.50) is another excellent choice for a hearty brunch. The crispiness of the fried tomato contrasts the runny yolk inside the poached egg, and the Hollandaise sauce has a rich but balanced saltiness. The Benedict is served on the restaurant’s famous cornbread along with a side of warm vegetables.
The Lucky Platter also offers vegetarian options, making this a place that can please both the pickiest and most adventurous eaters.
Brunch Everday 7:30am–2pm
514 Main Street — Evanston
Dixie Kitchen offers a brunch menu filled with authentic, hearty Southern comfort food. With its spirited 1930s bait-shop aesthetic, walls decked in New-Orleans-inspired décor, and lively blues music soundtrack, Dixie Kitchen is just jaunty enough to keep your head from dropping to the table in a biscuit-and-gravy-induced coma.
The stars of the brunch menu are dishes meant to fuel the day-long labor of a burly bayou fisherman, so indulge at your own risk — order with gusto, and your day might go from soulful to sleepy. It’ll be hard not to get stuffed, with options like fried catfish and eggs ($10.95) and Dixie Hash ‘N’ Chicken ($9.95) tempting you to create the ultimate Southern brunch experience. And if fried green tomatoes are intimidating at such an early hour, Dixie offers brunch classics like egg whites and oatmeal with a tasty Southern spin.
Dixie Kitchen offers home-cooked comfort food for an incredible value in a spunky
atmosphere. If you want to experience New Orleans, ditch the Mardi Gras travel plans and instead take a gastronomic trip within the comfort of our very own Midwestern town.
Brunch Sat–Sun 9am–2pm
825 Church Street — Evanston
Mercadito is well known for fusing traditional Mexican flavors with original interpretations of local and seasonal ingredients, resulting in well-crafted, upscale Mexican dishes. Lucky for us, brunch time is no exception. Mercadito’s pancakes ($12) tie together sweet and savory, where the strawberries and cinnamon marry a light, milky Mexican cheese, allowing the flavors to dance on your palate long after the meal ends. The menu also offers Mexican-inspired egg dishes in unique combinations like the sunny side up eggs with rosemary skirt steak and cactus salad ($12). Mercadito serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and its energetic yet laid-back atmosphere makes for a great start to any weekend. If you find yourself in downtown Chicago on a Friday or Saturday night instead, stop by Mercadito for its decadent late night brunch selection.
Brunch Sat 11:30am–3pm,Sun 11:30am–4pm
108 W. Kinzie Street — Chicago
Tucked away on a small corner of Wilmette Avenue near Green Bay Road, the small and unassuming facade of Hotcakes Café is easy to miss. However, the lucky few who notice it and are savvy enough to go inside know it is the perfect place to grab a tasty and, most importantly, affordable brunch.
The menu consists of classic breakfast and lunch fare like pancakes, salads and hamburgers, mixed with a few special items. The tamale corn flapjacks ($9.25) are one of the more unique menu items and have even been mentioned in the Chicago Tribune. These corn-specked flapjacks are crusty on the outside, soft and moist on the inside, covered with melted cheese and served with a side of sour cream and salsa. And if you want to save a few dollars, the short stack only costs $7.95 and is definitely large enough to fill you up.
The banana bread french toast ($7.95) is also a special menu item that will help you start your day off right. The thick slices of banana bread are griddle-fried and covered in butter and powdered sugar, creating a golden crust with a soft, banana center. It’s not on the permanent menu, however, so if you’re not lucky enough to order them, Hotcakes’ cinnamon raisin ($6.95) and bread pudding French toast ($7.95) is a delicious alternative.
The only possible drawback to having a meal at Hotcakes Café is that credit cards are not
accepted. If you decide to make the short journey to Hotcakes, be sure to bring cash and take a chance on any menu item that stretches the limits of normal brunch — you’ll be glad you did.
Brunch Mon–Sat 6:30am–2:30pm, Sun 7am–2:30pm
1195 Wilmette Avenue — Wilmette
(847) 256 2099
Sunda’s Asian-fusion menu is one of the best in Chicago, and unlike many other Asian restaurants, it is open for brunch. The creative brunch menu features an “East Meets West” section where diners can choose from Asian- or American-inspired dishes. The “Eastern Flavors” include dishes like tempura French toast ($12), tofu scramble ($11) and a Thai omelet ($12) made with shrimp, pork, watercress, bean sprouts and chili. The must-have Eastern item, however, is the braised pork belly, served on crispy rice patties and topped with poached eggs and Sunda’s special sauce. The “Western Flavors” offer more standard American brunch items, but with an added twist on Asian flavors. Sunda’s version of granola ($10) is ginger and mango infused, served with passion fruit yogurt and seasonal fruits.
The rest of the menu includes incredible handmade sushi, salads, dim sum options, and even a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar ($7). No small plates here — the brunch portions are big enough to fill you up until dinner.
Sunda’s atmosphere is intimate enough for a date, yet trendy enough for a group gathering. Either way, make sure you get a reservation, because the tables here are in high demand.
Brunch Sun 10:30pm–3pm
110 West Illinois Street — Chicago
If you are looking to venture into Chicago for a new cuisine, Tre Kronor, an authentic Swedish restaurant, is the perfect place. Located on West Foster Avenue, Tre Kronor offers a variety of Scandinavian specialties like Swedish pancakes served with lingonberry, a sweet berry used in many Scandinavian dishes, and of course freshly baked Danishes. Tre Kronor has been serving up homemade and reasonably priced dishes since doors opened in 1992, and its recent feature on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives attests to its quality.
For just $2.95, you can order the Swedish-style Cinnamon Rolls, filled with plump raisins and drizzled with lemon icing. The vanilla and orange French toast ($6.95), another sweet treat, is made with thickly sliced egg bread, spread with homemade orange butter and piled high with powdered sugar. For a more savory meal, try Tre Kronor’s fresh quiche ($7.95), which comes in at least four different varieties every day. Dishes are large enough to leave you with a full belly and cheap enough to leave you with a full wallet, too.
Brunch Mon–Sat 7am–3pm, Sun 9am–3pm
3258 West Foster Avenue — Chicago