Chicagoans love their brunch, but they also love their bars. What better way to soak up the night before than a delicious plate of brioche French toast or savory breakfast tostadas? We’ve got a roundup of the best ideas by neighborhood for the night of and the morning after with this guide to Chicago bars and brunch.
If you’re in Logan Square…
Sip on gin-focused cocktails at Scofflaw. Logan Square certainly doesn’t have a shortage of bars and breweries to choose from, but this is the place to go if you want to feel a little fancy, even immortal. No, really. They serve up a delicious craft cocktail called Immortal Juice that’s a blend of the expected gin, sherry, honey, and walnut bitters.
The next morning, brunch at Lula Cafe. The beloved eatery is a Logan Square classic by this point, but the breakfast burrito alone keeps it near the top of the best Chicago brunch spots. If you’re feeling something sweet, their classic buttermilk pancakes are just the right amount of fluff, paired with locally-sourced maple syrup. The cafe prides itself on simple ingredients served up in an elevated way.
If you’re in Avondale…
Visit one of the largest breweries in Illinois at the Revolution Brewing Taproom on Kedzie Avenue. The entire facility is 90,000 square feet, so you and the friends you came with won’t have to try too hard for seats in their German-inspired beer hall. They don’t have a full kitchen like their Logan Square location, but you can order food to be delivered while you sip on their seasonals or the popular Anti-Hero, a hoppy IPA.
Head to the Kurowski Sausage Shop the morning after with your pointer finger ready. The Polish deli is known for their smoked meats and variety of sausages, but you’re here for fresh potato pancakes, cheese blintzes, and their daily case of sweet treats. Expect pączki, a variety of Polish cheesecakes, and szarlotkas, or apple tarts. Just point to what you want in the case and the Polish-speaking staff will help you out. If you want some sausages to take with you, by the way, by all means this is the place.
If you’re in Wicker Park…
Wicker Park can feel like quite the scene sometimes. If you’re looking for something more casual, Estelle’s Cafe & Lounge is much more low-key. Their half-price happy hour is more generous than many Chicago bars in the area, but they’re also open late (4am!) if you’re here for the long haul. If you’re hungry, order a round of fried cheese curds, house-made chicken nuggets, or taquito rolls to share.
Dove’s Luncheonette is the perfect compromise for the morning after if you’re not sure whether you’re feeling breakfast or lunch. Order up any of their Tex-Mex entrees to get a taste of what the diner is all about. Their Chicken Fried Chicken comes with a chorizo gravy that brings some heat to an otherwise mild dish. If you’re really struggling, the Pozole Rojo will bring you back to life with loads of hominy and a broth made of guajillo chilis.
If you’re in the West Loop…
Sometimes you just want to feel a little fancy. If tonight is the night, reserve a table at The Aviary, celebrity chef Grant Achatz’s offering to the craft cocktail movement. There are all kinds of food pairings and cocktail progressions you can book when you pick a date, but the most relaxed option is their à la carte service. Expect smoke and infusions and ingredients you wouldn’t expect in a more classic cocktail bar.
Indulge in weekend brunch at The Publican the day after. The menu is meat-heavy, but if you’re looking for something lighter, their Publican Scrambler is a veggie delight. If you are here for the meats, add a side of their house bacon to any brunch entree. Their version is maple-braised and the perfect indulgence with a honey butter waffle.
More Perfect Combos
If you’re in Humboldt Park, make it a night out with some historical intrigue at the California Clipper. This neighborhood bar has been around since 1937. Go big with a Puerto Rican breakfast buffet at Nellie’s the next day. Note that while breakfast is served daily, the buffet is only available on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are highly recommended.
Spending time in Chinatown? Get the party started at the Sakura Karaoke Bar, easily accessible on the Red Line. It has to be dim sum the morning after. Dolo specializes in seafood but doesn’t skip classics like shumai and egg tarts.
If you’re in Lincoln Park, you’ll be spoiled for choice for Chicago watering holes. The J. Parker allows an escape away from the college bars down below, as this one is a rooftop bar. Indulge your sweet tooth at Batter & Berries the following day. They’re known for their French toast flights, but their apple batter waffle is a cinnamon spice delight.
Walk off your hearty brunch with a stroll around one of the city’s many iconic neighborhoods in Around the World in Chicago.