Brunch is the chicest of meals, shrouded in relaxation and comfort, bolstered with booze, and rich with decadent flavors. When it comes to brunch in Chicago, it's hard to beat the downtown dining scene, awash in a variety of brunch spots that offer different takes on the weekend ritual. Since you'll be groggy come Sunday morning, it helps to whittle down your options ahead of time and make your brunch choice as seamless as possible. Here are six top spots for brunch downtown.
Doughnut fried French toast. That's pretty much all that needs to be said to lure you to Public House like moths to a flickering flame. This is just one of the examples of unconventional dishes Public House serves at brunch, available Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. This particular dish features thick slices of bread cut into doughnut shapes, dredged in batter, fried, and adorned with vanilla-bourbon cream and seasonal market jam. In case you'd like something a little less debilitating, Public House's large brunch menu offers everything from cornmeal-buttermilk pancakes and queso fundido egg burritos to smoked salmon and egg white omelettes.
A stone's throw from Public House is Siena Tavern, a haute dining temple that puts an Italian accent on the weekend routine. Also served Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., Siena features prosciutto frittatas, artichoke omelettes, truffle scrambled eggs, eggs Benedict made with crispy mortadella, and much more. Things get especially indulgent on the sweeter side of the equation. Salivate over monkey bread with hazelnut cream, caramelized waffles with Nutella butter, and bombolini, little Italian doughnuts accompanied by whiskey-caramel, chocolate-hazelnut, and raspberry-Chianti sauces.
Restaurant Beatrix does it all. Located inside the glistening new Aloft Hotel, the all-day crowd-pleaser offers a little something for everyone, all dolled up with unique flavors, preparations, and ingredients. There are a couple different ways to eat brunch at Beatrix. Casual, on-the-go folks can head right to the coffee bar and partake in coffee and pastries, available in a myriad of carbohydrate temptations such as honey butter cinnamon rolls, orange-glazed scones, and chocolate angel food muffins. Or guests can opt to sit down and peruse the brunch menu, an eclectic array of dishes like ten-grain oatmeal, spicy chicken tinga sandwich, quinoa cakes with poached eggs, and the fluffiest lemon pancakes you'll ever taste. Don't miss the impressive mixed juices. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Brunch doesn't get any sexier than the weekend menu at Mercadito. The splashy modern Mexican restaurant puts a zesty spin on brunch with Mexican French toast with cajeta, pancakes with Manchego cheese, scrambled eggs with black bean hash, chorizo omelettes, and an array of breakfast tacos. A great way to experience brunch at Mercadito is with their Hangover Cure, which allows guests to select three dishes for the table to share for $13.50 per person. If you've had a particularly rough night, the Ultimate Hangover Cure comes with cocktails for a nominal surcharge. But can you really put a price on a hangover cure? Brunch is served Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
For brunch with a nautical tilt, set your sights on GT Fish & Oyster. The contemporary seafood standby treads in aquatic fare by night, translating much of those sensibilities to weekend brunch via house-cured lox, smoked whitefish quiche, shrimp and grits, a crab Benedict, and the creme de la creme, a decadent dish of biscuits and lobster gravy. There are plenty of non-seafood dishes as well, from steak and eggs to fried chicken and waffles, but when in Rome, at least try and do a little bit as the Romans do. And be sure and order a cocktail or two. It's apropos that one Bloody Mary comes with shrimp. Get your brunch fix Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Photos: DINE/AMIC GROUP (Public House and Siena Tavern), Restaurant Beatrix, Chelsea Ross (Mercadito and GT Fish & Oyster)