Chicagoans are a brunch-loving people, and never is this more true than during the winter. City-wide, on Saturdays and Sundays, apartment dwellers emerge from their work week hibernation to feast on a midday mashup of breakfast and lunch’s best offerings.
So what spot’s are worth venturing outdoors for? Here are three of our favorites featuring great eats and delicious drinks served up with a side of coziness that promises to defeat any winter chill.
A relative newcomer to the West Loop scene, Formento’s is definitely an homage to your Italian grandma’s kitchen. Or at the very least, it will fill the role of Italian grandma you never had and never knew you desperately needed. The space welcomes the whole family with big tables and banquettes and the menu manages to pull off large portions without feeling excessive. Sunday brunch is best begun with something sweet; think a bombolini, adorable Italian doughnuts, with raspberry jam or the enormous cinnamon roll for the table. Other standouts include what has been described as the restaurant’s signature brunchtime dish, eggs in “Purgatory,” featuring poached eggs, spicy pork gravy, and creamed polenta. Other notables include soft scrambled eggs crostini with Burrata, mushrooms, and arugula, and the Paloma Italiana cocktail made with Maestro Dobel tequila, Aperol, grapefruit, and lime.
Farm-to-table dining might not be a new concept, but what about farm-to-tavern dining? This is Farmhouse’s mantra and not only does the near North Side restaurant celebrate the best of the Midwest by highlighting regional, seasonal ingredients, but its very interior was built with 85% salvaged materials; talk about thinking local. Diners won’t be disappointed with Farmhouse’s selection of mimosas (we recommend the option made with mead and Cava) or an order of the beer battered Wisconsin cheese curds to start. We also love the hoe cakes, a heartier cornmeal pancake that arrives with lemon curd, cranberry-walnut granola, and maple syrup, and the farmer’s breakfast with scrambled farm eggs, mustard greens, shallots, fine herbs, white cheddar, spicy potatoes, toast, and the diner’s choice of sausage or bacon.
In a tiny pocket of Humboldt Park lives the magical little cash-only BYOB that is Grandma J’s Local Kitchen. With just a handful of tables and a few seats up at the counter, Grandma J’s fills up quickly, but it’s always worth the wait. Bring your own Champagne and order one of the restaurant’s mimosa trays, which comes with three juices and fruit garnishes, and then settle into a plate of the the fried chicken and crêpes or go for “The Works,” a heaping hodgepodge of poached eggs, potato hash with cheddar cheese and marinated mushrooms, crispy kale, bacon, fried tomato, and hollandaise with toast and housemade jam.