No matter what time of day or day of the week, somewhere in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood is guaranteed to be serving brunch. Find the best places by following your nose – and our guide.
Fatpour Chicago, Chicago
Bar, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, $$$
An offshoot of the original Wicker Park location, this South Loop spot is a bit cozier, while still retaining the massive selection of specialty beers that made the original such a hit. Their brunch menu is also fantastic, especially considering that Fatpour is a brewpub first and foremost. There are breakfast sliders, breakfast calzones and breakfast pizza. Think of a combination of breakfast food and bar food, and Fatpour will have it.
Since 1995, this Wicker Park staple at the corner of Ashland and North Avenue has perfected the art of the all-American diner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert are served here 24 hours a day, every day of the week, 365 days of the year. Hollywood Grill’s vibe matches its name impeccably: brightly colored booths lined up underneath a painted mural of the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, a flashy yellow gumball machine, and a kitschy bar lined with multi-colored tiles and bright red retro stools. From 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. kids eat for $1.99 and everything on their early riser menu is only $6.99 between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. If you’re feeling the old-school vibe, try the meatloaf or the continental breakfast. If you’re a more innovative eater, there’s the apple caramel waffle or the avocado Benedict. Either way, there’s always fresh fruit pie à la mode.
Hot Chocolate is the kind of neighborhood spot you wish was on your corner – especially for brunch. That’s because the slew of house-made pastries are not to be missed (we’re talking brioche doughnuts rolled with cinnamon and sugar). The menu often changes, but diners can expect dishes like babka French toast, miso and mushroom scramble, and wedges of quiche. But a trip to Hot Chocolate is incomplete without a cup of the namesake drink – crafted in seven varieties, like 72% dark chocolate or Mexican, showered with cayenne and cinnamon. Each mug is filled with the chocolate concoction and crowned with a home-made marshmallow.
With a fireplace inside and a quiet patio outside, Milk & Honey Cafe is a year-round breakfast destination. Head to this welcoming, counter-service spot for huevos rancheros (served “casserole style” with scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa, and a blend of cheeses) and orange brioche French toast (topped with toasted almonds and maple syrup).
Alliance Bakery specialises in French pastries | Courtesy of Alliance Bakery
Don’t be fooled by the picture-perfect cakes decorating the front window – there’s more to Alliance than special occasion cakes. Head here for breakfast pastries, including perfectly flaky almond croissants and the deliciously buttery French pastry kouign-amann. And while you’re here, you might as well pick up some macarons “for later.”
Vegetarians and vegans flock to this Wicker Park hipster haven for comfort food with a vegetarian twist. Favorites at Handlebar include the fried avocado tacos, served with cabbage slaw, tomatoes, queso fresco, refried beans, and house-made ranch. A majority of the menu can also be prepared vegan upon request, plus there are many gluten-free options. Handlebar also adds a slight twist to the classic vodka-tomato juice Bloody Mary. Instead of a splash of Worcestershire sauce, which many bartenders reach for first to add a rich flavor, Handlebar tosses in some Guinness. They then top it off with a cornmeal-breaded, deep fried pickle.
Since 1994, this infamous Wicker Park BBQ joint has been offering up delicious ribs and jazz music, seven nights a week. The meat is smoked in-house daily, and even though it’s known around the country for having the best BBQ in Chicago, vegetarians can still enjoy quinoa burgers and delectable salads. Brunch is served family-style, and for an additional $16, you can slurp bottomless Bloody Marys. Each cocktail is made with Smoke Daddy’s signature Bloody Mary mix, a blend of Smoke Daddy BBQ sauce, curry, orange peel, Worcestershire source, saffron, and more, and served with a pulled pork garnish wrapped in brisket. For an extra $1, brunchers can upgrade to jalapeño or cucumber-infused vodka.