Beyond hotel restaurants and greasy spoons scattered throughout downtown, most visitors to Chicago don’t know where to go for the best breakfast. However, the Windy City is brimming with all sorts of intriguing flavors when it comes to the first meal of the day.
For an authentic Chicago breakfast experience, take a ride to one of the following five breakfast spots and feast on towering homemade biscuits, stacks of pancakes loaded down with intriguing ingredients, and other delicious dishes.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits
Can it possibly get any better than biscuits and pie? Actually, yes it can. At the Logan Square-based Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, everything is made to order (from scratch), so plan for a leisurely morning meal. As you enter, you see the day’s specials printed on an oversized chalkboard at the entrance. The decision between sweet or savory already overwhelms you and your crew.
You opt for house-made biscuits stuffed with crispy chicken thigh, candied bacon, or ginger sage sausage patties, while your dining partner goes for a sweeter option. Bang Bang’s infamous pie selection varies by season, but they offer chocolate and brown butter chess throughout the year. For more brunch options, you find house-made granola, gumbo & grits, and smoked collard greens are to your liking.
Offering a fresh take on Mexican cuisine in the Pilsen neighborhood is Nana, which boasts organic and locally sourced ingredients in all its breakfast offerings. It’s a homey, down-to-earth place you hang out at before exploring the neighborhood, as Nana’s employees and regulars gleefully recommend spots off the beaten path.
It’s easily a best breakfast choice because it does it so well with house favorites like the baked chilaquiles, a spicy corn tortilla casserole filled with black beans, poblano cream, and eggs. You bring along your vegetarian friends so they can try avocado fries accompanied by a chipotle-lime aioli as well as chickpea frites complemented by herb aioli, date agrodolce, and chipotle honey.
A visit to the neighborhood of Bronzeville is not complete without a meal at Pearl’s Place. You like that it acts as a living museum, with vintage photos of The Great Migration of the city’s African American population, as well as famous 1930s entertainers, decorating the walls. While the general attitude around these parts is cheery and dripping with down-home flavor, the decor is decidedly modern, with vivid colors and comfortable booths to enjoy the food. The seemingly endless buffet occurs every day, and you find everything on the menu—like buttermilk biscuits, home-style potatoes, omelets cooked to order, and salmon croquettes—tempting.
This is where the stroller set settles in for Lincoln Park’s best breakfast after everyone else is at work. Toast has been around for almost 20 years, but it continues to attract a trendy crowd. You cram into the narrow, yet fashionable space, but it’s all worth it for the gooiest French toast in town. It’s difficult for you to decide between French toast “stuffed” with puréed fresh strawberry, mascarpone, or dark chocolate. That is, until you notice the French toast “orgy”—stuffed and topped with vanilla yogurt, house-made berry granola, fresh fruit, and honey—on the menu.
Another neighborhood overflowing with outstanding Chicago breakfast destinations is Ukrainian Village. While those with a sweet tooth opt for throwback-inspired treats like Snickers-stuffed French toast and Oreo-raspberry pancakes, you find that Whisk does even better work in the savory department. In search of a hearty breakfast, you sit down and start your meal with house-braised brisket hash, a chorizo omelet, and spicy crab cakes served with two eggs and house potatoes.