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There’s a reason why Chicagoans will wait hours—often in frigid winter temps—in line for breakfast or brunch: It’s because A.M. meals here rule. From Blackberry Blisscakes (tastes as good as it sounds) to porchetta sandwiches, here are the best breakfasts and brunches in Chicago that are worth the wait.

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Fried Sunchokes for brunch from Lula Cafe in Chicago

FRIED SUNCHOKES with charred chinese broccoli, garlic, soft boiled egg | Photo courtesy of Kyle Kissel

Lula Cafe

It’s in Logan Square, and the vibe is totally on point with the neighborhood: funky, eclectic and hipster. Lula Cafe is almost like a cult, so if you don’t like it don’t tell anyone. It’s all about the veggies, the seeds, the eggs, the milk alternatives and the avocados. Get the vibe? For example, the porridge (not oatmeal, porridge) contains bee pollen and blood orange. It’s a special place.

Summer House Santa Monica

This restaurant in the Lincoln Park neighborhood is where you go with your girlfriends when you’re all dressed up and are living your best life. It’s bright, it’s loud, it’s young, it’s fun and it’s always busy, from morning until evening. Brunch is the prime time to go (though you can’t go wrong with dinner, either), and it’s crowded. The menu is huge, and they have everything you could dream of for breakfast or brunch, from fancy eggs to waffles and pancakes, and all those trendy items with avocados. Tons of avocados.

Belgian Waffle for brunch at Publican in Chicago

Belgian Waffles | Photo courtesy of Ad Sanford, Publican

The Publican

This spot just west of downtown specializes in pork and beer, and it shows on their morning menu in a big way. The porchetta sandwich is a stand-out, as is the pork cassoulet—and a side of thick-cut bacon goes with everything. But you don’t need to order pork to enjoy your meal. They also have a ton of other offerings (mostly savory) from shrimp to crab scrambles to biscuits and waffles. Come super hungry.

Big Jones

If you want a good Southern brunch, look no further than this cozy Andersonville joint specializing in sustainable farm-to-table meals. The catfish and grits will take you right out of the Windy City and land you on the shores of Alabama as you dip into the farm-raised Alabama catfish served with creamy grits, sea island red peas and tasso ham beurre monte (translation: something you won’t find elsewhere in Chicago). If you’ve got a sweet tooth, dig into the buckwheat banana pancakes, which are made with banana pudding, candied pecans and caramel (i.e. dessert disguised as breakfast).

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This River North modern restaurant may ask you to wait 45 minutes for a table, but it’s worth it. From the green juice to the avocado salad to the green chili enchiladas or the cauliflower grits (everything here is green and sorta-healthy and delish), they have something to satisfy everyone. It’s a loud restaurant however, so don’t expect a quiet morning. This is a place to wake up.

Shaws seafood tower for brunch in Chicago

Seafood Tower | Photo courtesy of Anjali Pinto

Shaw’s Crab House  

If you’re craving seafood, this is your spot. At Shaw’s, you can get it all, every bit of seafood, during their weekend brunch. Binge on crab, oysters, shrimp—and some traditional items. It’s a good deal. The restaurant’s located right downtown near a lot of the big hotels, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to roll yourself home afterward.

Blackberry-Blisscakes from m henry in Chicago

Blackberry-Blisscakes | Photo courtesy of m. henry

m. henry

Blackberry Blisscakes. ‘Nuff said. Seriously, those pancakes are worth the trek to Andersonville, and they’re even worth waiting for hours through the rain, the sleet and the snow, just to sink your teeth into the most delicious pancakes you’ll ever try. You’ll probably be back the next day to do it all again. They’re that good.

Hot Chocolate

This is the best place ever for thick, dream-worthy hot chocolate. Chef-owner Mindy Segal won the James Beard award for Outstanding Pastry Chef back in 2012. But not surprisingly, the restaurant also commands lines out the door for its brunch. The brioche french toast is on the sweet side, and pairs well with the hot cocoa (doesn’t everything?). But you could also get savory items, as well. Hot Chocolate’s right in the heart of trendy Bucktown, so it should come as no surprise that they make a killer avocado toast on sourdough bread with a very Insta-worthy presentation.

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Tagged: Chicago

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Danielle Braff

Danielle Braff

Danielle lives in Chicago with her family, two cats and a dog, but she's constantly researching her next vacation. Check out her other articles at

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