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Chicago Best & Worst Brunches of 2016

Best and Worst Brunches
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2016, where did you go? It seems like only yesterday that the Bitches team started here in Chicago, but we certainly have brunched and Bitched our way through the city. Together, editors Alexis and Allison, have reviewed 89 restaurants and honestly, they have we have only skimmed the surface of what Chicago has to offer.

2017 is upon us and we are so excited to continue to bring you all our reviews of our favorite brunch spots in Chicago. Read our New York Best & Worst here and our Washington, D.C., Best & Worst, here. And don’t miss our Best Bites of 2016, coming soon! We look forward to continuing this epic eating adventure with you!

The Best

Best Overall: Cindy’s Rooftop
Atop the historic Chicago Athletic Association sits our favorite brunch spot this year. Truth be told, Cindy’s Rooftop has been a favorite of many (both local and visiting) for years, so it’s no surprise it tops our lists and reigns supreme in 2016. Its menu, ambiance, service, and views are all spectacular and it is without a doubt the place to brunch this year. Magnificent Mile, Chicago

Cindy's Brunch

Best Family Brunch: Stella Barra

With a brunch buffet that seemed to have it all, including a kids station, how could we not crown Stella Barra best family brunch spot? Stella Barra just started offering brunch this year, and families in the city were certainly happy they did. Lincoln Park, Chicago

Stella Barra Brunch

Best Weekday Brunch: Hutch

Finding the perfect weekday brunch spot can be hard, and trust us, we’ve tried them all! The one that has set itself apart from the others is Hutch. Hutch is a great Lakeview spot that offers diners brunch all day, every day. And, with $3 mimosas on weekdays, there is no excuse not to have one or even two. Not a fan of mimosas? Then the Bloody Marys are sure to do the trick! Lakeview, Chicago

Hutch Brunch

Best Brunch For Seafood Lovers: Oyster Bah

A newcomer to the brunch (and food) scene here in Chicago is the wonderful Oyster Bah. Seafood lovers come one, come all, and enjoy this festive, delicious, and creative seafood brunch that is bound to please everyone. Lincoln Park, Chicago

Oyster Bah Brunch

Best Seafood Brunch Buffet: Shaw’s Crab House

If you’re a seafood lover and don’t want to settle for just one entree, then make sure you head to Shaw’s Crab House for the epic seafood brunch buffet. With so many stations, and options it’s bound to impress any seafood connoisseur. River North, Chicago

Shaw Crab House Buffet Brunch

Best Brunch Buffet: Pinstripes

One of the best buffet brunches we have been to to date is Pinstripes. With the variety of stations, how well they were kept, and for the unbelievable price, we have to say it is the reigning king of buffets. Oh, and the bowling and bocce don’t hurt either. Streeterville, Chicago

Pinstripes Streeterville Brunch

Best Ambiance: 3 Arts Club Cafe

With its crystal chandelier, glass ceiling, and trickling fountain, The 3 Arts Club Cafe has by far the best ambiance in the city. While the menu is not extensive, and it’s often hard to get into, this cafe is worth the wait just to sit and enjoy life, conversation, and of course, a mimosa. Gold Coast, Chicago

3 Arts Club Cafe

Best Decor: Taus Authentic

No matter who you ask, Taus Authentic is one of the most picturesque, beautiful restaurants in Chicago. This Wicker Park gem has made its mark in the food scene, and certainly offered us more than just delicious food. The decor and ambiance of Taus is top-notch and is certainly one to be appreciated and admired. (Catch more of a glimpse of the inside of Taus Authentic in our event recap, here!) Wicker Park, Chicago

fnd_taus

Best Bro Brunch: The Vig

Bustling from open to close, this Wells Street stop is full of, well, bros. But, we wouldn’t have it any other way! Old Town is full of brunch gems and The Vig is certainly one of them. It’s a popular destination for brunchers but this place is best enjoyed with several mimosas to relive those college days. Old Town, Chicago

Best Brunch Date: Bohemian House

Fabulous brunch cocktails, a unique menu, and a gorgeous space is what sets the Bohemian House apart from other restaurants in the city. The Bohemian House is an outstanding option for a date night or brunch date, no matter the season. River North, Chicago

Bohemian House Brunch

Best Fancy Brunch: Dolce Italian

Put your fancy pants on when you head to Dolce Italian for a picture perfect Sunday brunch. There is no question as to why Dolce Italian was named “Best Restaurant” in 2015, and it certainly holds its own this year. River North, Chicago

Dolce Italian Brunch

Best Patio: Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

With its secluded patio in the back, it’s no wonder this quaint patio won best patio. If you haven’t been to Blue Door Kitchen and Garden, make sure to head there when the weather warms up. Gold Coast, Chicago

Blue Door Kitchen Brunch

Best Bottomless: Zella

Bottomless buffet, bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys, for as long as you want? Yes, please! We are talking about the one and only, Zella. Zella is infamous for its bottomless option that includes a buffet and drinks to your hearts content. NOTE: Not for the faint of heart, this is an epic marathon and honestly, is best done on a Saturday to ensure you have Sunday to nurse your hangover. Lincoln Park, Chicago

Zella Brunch

Best International Brunch: Carnivale

Walking into Carnivale is an experience. The decor is eccentric, exotic, and perfectly matches the inventive Brazilian cuisine. If you haven’t had a chance try this brunch, make sure to do so! Fulton Market, Chicago

Carnival Brunch

Best Winter Brunch: Chez Moi

Winter makes us want to hibernate and snuggle into a warm, cozy space and Chez Moi certainly delivers that cozy ambiance perfect for a winter brunch. The dishes and beverages certainly will warm you up too! Lincoln Park, Chicago

Chez Moi Brunch

Best Michelin-Rated Brunch: Longman & Eagle

Longman and Eagle has the wait time of a Michelin-rated restaurant but not the price tag, and we love them for that! This incredible Logan Square spot has always blown us away and it’s no surprise they have been a Michelin-rated restaurant for years. Logan Square, Chicago

Longman and Eagle

Best Meats Brunch: Little Goat

Goat meat sausage on the menu and many goat-inspired dishes at Little Goat make this Stephanie Izard restaurant our pick for the best meats brunch in Chicago. West Loop, Chicago

Little Goat Brunch

Best Southern Brunch: Buck’s Chicken & Biscuits

This new Wicker Park spot has become a staple for fried chicken, and all things southern comfort food has to offer. And the kickin’ fried chicken atop cornmeal pancakes sure is, kickin’at Buck’s. Wicker Park, Chicago

Buck's Brunch

Best Brunch with Entertainment: House of Blues

Brunch and entertainment? Look no further than the House of Blues with the famous Chicago venue’s buffet and gospel show that is so good it gets you on your feet! River North, Chicago

House Of Blues Gospel Brunch

Best Italian Brunch: Osteria La Madia

Looking for an Italian brunch but not looking for pizza? Then head to Osteria La Madia and get an upscale, delicious brunch that is bound to please everyone. River North, Chicago

Osteria La Madia photo

Best French Brunch: Bistro Zinc

Quiche, croque monsieurs, and crepes, oh my! Bistro Zinc is a French bistro that perfectly embodies what is desirable about a French restaurant, and brunch was no exception. This restaurant transports you to Paris effortlessly, and we love it for that! Gold Coast, Chicago

Bistro Zinc Brunch

Best Mexican Brunch: Taco Joint

Mexican street fare with a bit of an edge is how we like to describe Taco Joint. We loved this brunch so much and to date, it has been the best Mexican brunch we’ve had. Bravo, Taco Joint! River North and Lincoln Park, Chicago

Taco Joint River North Brunch

Best BYOB: Jam n’ Honey

Restaurants that are BYOB are a dime a dozen in Chicago. But, of them all, we think that Jam n’ Honey rules the roost with its BYOB option. Lincoln Park, Chicago

Jam n' Honey Brunch

Best Group Brunch: Piece Pizza

Group brunches are best served by group pizzas. We loved Piece Pizza this year for groups, especially since we had a large group of nine people at brunch, and everyone was left full and satisfied by three large New Haven-style pizzas. Wicker Park, Chicago

Piece Pizza Brunch

Best Party Brunch: Stout

Stout is a solid place for a party brunch with friends on the weekend. Stout touts extensive beer and cocktail lists that make it the perfect place for brunch-worthy libations, not to mention the awesome Bloody Mary bar. River North, Chicago

Stout Brunch

Best Bar Food Brunch: Bull & Bear

Whenever we go to a bar, we always hope the food is good but know to keep our expectations low. The exception to this is Bull & Bear; the food was a delight, along with it being a traditional bar! No more having to choose between one or the other when you can get both. River North, Chicago

Bull & Bear Brunch

Best Acoustic Brunch: Rockit

Normally the spots along Hubbard Street are not the places people go to for a mellow time. But believe it or not, Rockit Bar in River North has a mellow acoustic brunch for diners to enjoy as they munch on Rockit’s great brunch items. Rock on, Rockit! River North, Chicago

Rockit Brunch

Most Instagrammable: Cafe Spiaggia

When every entree, appetizer, and charcuterie board is perfectly plated, you just have to take a picture. Cafe Spiaggia nailed the Instagram game by making everything we ate picture-perfect, and no-filter required. Gold Coast, Chicago

Cafe Spiaggia Brunch

Best Cafe: Cafe Marie-Jeanne

Cafes are known for pastries, coffee, and breakfast served hot and fresh, every day. Our favorite this year was Cafe Marie-Jeanne by far! This French inspired with its fresh biscuits, delicious coffee, and small town feel had us swooning. Ukrainian Village, Chicago

Cafe Marie Jeanne Brunch

Best Hipster Brunch: The Dawson

Delicious food in a modern, industrial space is every hipster’s dream. The Dawson in West Town created a delicious menu with modern twists and boasts a serious cocktail and beer collection worthy of any brunch date, family outing, or Sunday Funday. West Town, Chicago

The Dawson Brunch

Best Bakery: Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

Who is going to say no to pie for brunch? Answer: no one. Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Logan Square and Ravenswood boasts some incredible pie and biscuit selections, and with its seasonal change up of options, you’ll never get bored at this hotspot. Logan Square and Ravenswood, Chicago

Bang Bang Pie! Brunch

Best No Frills Brunch: Elly’s

A great, consistent, basic brunch spot will forever be Elly’s on North Avenue. This diner-esque place has delicious and eye-catching pancakes, omelets galore, and plenty of quick turnover to make it a great place to grab brunch on the go. Gold Coast, Chicago

ellysbrunch

Best Brunch to Lunch: 3 Greens Market

3 Greens Market’s buffet has it all: great breakfast, brunch, and lunch items to ensure that you don’t have to pick one or the other. Plus, Doughnut Vault has donuts and coffee there to satisfy your sweet fix. River North, Chicago

3 Greens Market Brunch

Best Elevated Diner Brunch: Bakin’ and Eggs

Bakin’ and Eggs in Lakeview classes up your typical diner food experience with its innovative take on some dishes, while also offering the standard options that are cooked to your heart’s content. Bakin’ and Eggs has always topped our charts, and should be on everyone’s bucket list. Lakeview, Chicago

Bakin' and Eggs

Most Affordable Brunch: The Bongo Room

Options upon options are what The Bongo Room is known for, and for also not breaking the bank! Consistent brunchers can appreciate having good, and affordable food, and we certainly think that The Bongo Room tops the list for its variety, and its price tags. Andersonville, South Loop, and Wicker Park, Chicago

Best Rooftop: Raised

With rooftops aplenty in Chicago, it’s hard to pick “the best,” but with panoramic views of the city, it’s easy to crown Raised the reigning king of rooftops. The view at Raised is quite breathtaking, and is worth the hefty price tag of brunch. The Loop, Chicago

Best Celebrity Chef Spot: Siena Tavern

While celebrity chefs hotspots are ever present in Chicago, thanks to some of TV’s favorite culinary masters, (especially Top Chefs and Top Chef Masters like CJ Jacobson, Stephanie Izard, Rick Bayless, Graham Elliot, Art Smith, and Tony Mantuano, just to name a few!) we must admit, our favorite celebrity chef brunch spot is Fabio Viviani’s Siena Tavern. Viviani is super energetic, friendly, and known to walk around and mingle with guests. The restaurant’s environment is a perfect reflection of his personality, and incredible cuisine is a perfect reflection of his exquisite culinary skills!  River North, Chicago

Siena Tavern Brunch

Best Bang For Your Buck: Janik’s Cafe

Diverse menu options and a pleasant ambiance with affordable brunches? That would be the one and only Janik’s Cafe in Ukrainian Village. Head there whenever you want to impress your guests without breaking the bank. Ukrainian Village, Chicago

Janik's Cafe Brunch

Best Newcomer: Forno Rosso

2016 seemed to be the year of restaurant openings, and Forno Rosso in West Loop was our favorite addition to the brunch lineup. Its take on brunch was innovative and delicious. If you haven’t had a chance to try it, please do before the rest of West Loop finds out about it. West Loop, Chicago

Forno Rosso Brunch

Best Bloody Bar: Parlor Pizza

By far, Parlor Pizza boasts the most extensive Bloody Mary bar we have ever seen. Who knew you could stuff olives with 10+ different ingredients? Well, whatever you’ve ever hoped to put in your Bloody is bound to be in the line-up at Parlor Pizza. West Loop and Wicker Park, Chicago

Parlor Pizza Brunch

Best Hotel Brunch: Columbus Tap

Hotel brunches get a bad rap but the brunch at Columbus Tap is certainly worth a try! It’s upscale pub fare with Bloody Marys worthy of Instagram fame! Plus, it’s close to shopping on Michigan Avenue—what’s better than that? The Loop, Chicago

Columbus Tap Room Brunch

Best Comfort Food Brunch: Feed

With a cute patio and some good Southern-style cookin’, Feed certainly does feed the soul. Its unique take on Southern fare, like the fried green tomato eggs Benedict, will bring back memories of your grandma’s cooking and make you want to go back again, and again. Humboldt Park, Chicago

Feed Brunch

Best Brunch for Tourists: Chicago Q

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from downtown, this precious little barbecue spot is the perfect destination for tourists trying to get away from downtown, but admittedly, not too far. Chicago Q is nestled right in the heart of the Gold Coast and is equipped with delicious food, incredible staff, and one of the cutest patios that we know of. Gold Coast, Chicago

Best Place To Take Your Parents: Eight Bar

You always want to show your parents what Chicago has to offer, and Eight Bar has it all—delicious food, in an upscale environment and killer Brioche French Toast, among other delicious dishes. Gold Coast, Chicago

Eight Bar Brunch

Worth The Wait: Red Door

The service may be a bit slow, and there is often a wait in the summer, but The Red Door Kitchen is a great spot in Bucktown that is worth venturing to and waiting for. The bottomless mimosa deal is great, as is the outdoor patio! Word to the wise, make sure to get the hot fried chicken. Bucktown, Chicago

Red Door Kitchen Brunch

Best Roll Out Of Bed Brunch: Flo

Rough night? Head to Flo for the perfect fast and easy breakfast and brunch with some serious cocktail options. Oh, and PJs are always acceptable here. West Town, Chicago

Flo Brunch

Most Reliable: Jam

Consistency is key when it comes to brunch, and Jam certainly has proven to be a solid brunch choice for years. Logan Square, Chicago

Jam Brunch

Best Brunch Deal: Reno

If you’re looking for a deal, meaning: options, fast, cheap, and casual? Then Reno is your best bet! This Logan Square option is all those things, and some of the more adventurous breakfast sandwiches are worth stepping outside your comfort zone for. Logan Square, Chicago

Reno Brunch

Most Improved: Benchmark

Benchmark definitely won us back with brunch this year. After having dined there before for brunch and having a not-so-great experience, when we came back to try the new brunch buffet that debuted over summer, we were blown away by the improvements. This spot is a top contender for one of the best party brunches in Chicago. Old Town, Chicago

Benchmark Brunch

Best Hangover Brunch: LOKaL

Brunching while hungover is the worst. Thankfully, LOKaL is our pick for the best hangover brunch due to its great bottomless option, along with some festive, greasy food options! Look no further than LOKaL, with its two locations, to keep you and your hangover at bay. Wicker Park and Lincoln Park, Chicago

LOKaL Lincoln Park

The Worst

Worst Overall: Barcocina

Barcocina, by a landslide, is our worst overall brunch experience for the year. It was the most overpriced, with the worst service, and the worst food to date. Perhaps it has (or will) improve, but we certainly won’t be trying it again anytime soon. Lakeview, Chicago

Barcocina Brunch

Worst Decor: Fork

Clashing carpet, unsightly upholstered booths, and an ominously dark interior made Fork one of the worst when it came to ambiance and decor. This farm-to-table spot had so much going for it, but we were not pleased with our food, or the restaurant’s ambiance. Lincoln Square, Chicago

Fork Brunch

Worst Bang for your Buck: Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!

We tried Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! because, well, everyone else was. Too bad we didn’t see the reason why. While Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! is always brimming with people, and has an extensive wait, we were disenchanted with the service, food, and found it to be more expensive than it was worth. Lincoln Park, Chicago

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! Brunch

Most Likely To Improve: Broken English Taco Pub

This brand-new spot in Chicago was good on its first attempt at brunch, but we believe Broken English has some improving to do. The Loop, Chicago

Broken English Brunch

Most Disappointing: City Winery

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That is how we felt after trying City Winery for brunch. After a lackluster dinner experience, we decided (months later) to go back for brunch and we were certainly disappointed we did. City Winery didn’t impress us, and while people seem to love this place, the only part we could get behind were the drinks. West Loop, Chicago

City Winery Brunch

Most Gimmicky: Belly Up Smokehouse & Saloon

While the food was good at Belly Up Smokehouse & Saloon, we couldn’t help but feel as if there was a touristy, gimmicky shtick going on. This South Loop new spot is a great spot to stop for beer, wings, and football, but just don’t get caught up in the game. South Loop, Chicago

Belly Up Smokehouse & Saloon Brunch

Longest Wait Time: Bongo Room

The Bongo Room is a popular spot for brunch but perhaps it’s too popular from time to time. If you’re not willing to wait a hour (or more) for brunch, then go elsewhere. While the food is good, demand is simply too high to make this place a consistent go-to. Who wants to wait for pancakes and coffee? Not us. Wicker Park, Andersonville, and South Loop, Chicago

The Bongo Room Wicker Park

Worst Brunch Attempt: Mrs. Murphy and Sons

We were less than inspired by the dishes at Mrs. Murphy and Sons, and the service was dismal. We were not inclined to recommend this brunch in the least, unless it’s St. Patty’s Day. North Center, Chicago

mrs. muphy's

Biggest Letdown: Jane’s Restaurant

We wish we could raise a glass to Jane’s Restaurant in Bucktown, but this tiny restaurant let us down. First, it no longer offers brunch on weekdays, even though it is still advertised on the website, and the food was lackluster through and through. Bucktown, Chicago

Jane's Brunch

Most Basic Brunch: Pizzeria Serio

The simplicity of the menu left us wanting more, and we wish that Pizzeria Serio had more options that were more unique. Lakeview, Chicago

Pizzeria Serio Brunch

Worst Service: Harding Tavern

The brunch menu at Harding Tavern had some hits, like the THT French Toast, but it also had some misses, like the baked eggs. And when it’s bad enough to have to send the dish back to the kitchen (cold eggs and not appetizing), you’d hope the server would be understanding. Instead, our wait staff was kind of rude, and still charged us for the dish we didn’t like. The Loop, Chicago

 

Haywood Tavern Brunch

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