Brunch - West Loop Style
Brunch. It’s practically a religion in Chicago. Walk by some establishments in the city during the early morning hours on the weekend and find lines of people, 20-30 deep, ready to worship at the plate of pancakes piled eye high. Whatever the reason, be it a greasy fix to a previous night’s over indulgencies or a ritual meant to delay the coming Monday, brunch is as much a meal as it is an escape to a delicious place so many of us visit week after week.
Living in the West Loop I am blessed to say I have an abundance of choices that thankfully don’t require a 2 hour wait. I know it’s just a matter of time before my secret brunch oasis is known to the rest of the city. Being that it is inevitability, I feel it’s my duty to give you a quick guide to running the Randolph Street brunch gauntlet.
For the carnivore with a discriminating palate
Stop by The Publican (837 W Fulton Market) for thick slabs of house made bacon. While their wash it down with a tomato water bloody mary; a sophisticate twist on the classic. No reservation? Swing by their sister restaurant, Publican Quality Meats (825 W Fulton Market) on the adjacent corner for a weekly changing breakfast sandwich inspired by the classic egg and sausage or grab a seat and enjoy a charcuterie or smoked fish plate. Channel your inner farmer and head to Grange Hall Burger Barn (844 W Randolph St.) for peasant style baked eggs or go all out with the breakfast burger. Grange Hall’s grass feed burger placed open face on cinnamon raisin French toast, topped with Canadian and apple wood smoked bacons, sharp cheddar cheese, maple syrup and a sunny side up egg. Plan on a nap!
Bacon at The Publican (Photo courtesy of Sifu Renka, http://flickriver.com/photos/sifu_renka/popular-interesting/)
Breakfast Burger at Grange Hall Burger Barn (photo courtesy of Grange Hall Burger Barn, https://www.facebook.com/GrangeHallBurgerBar)
Peasant Style Baked Eggs at Grange Hall Burger Barn (photo courtesy of Grange Hall Burger Barn, https://www.facebook.com/GrangeHallBurgerBar)
Bloody Mary at Publican Quality Meats (Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/publicanqualitymeats)
Charcuterie at Publican Quality Meats (Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/publicanqualitymeats)
For those looking for a little religion with their rock n' roll
Can’t make it to church? g.e.b. (841 W Randolph St.) has you covered. Where else can you get a poached egg cradled by a towering, fluffy biscuit enveloped with red eye gravy all while under the watchful gaze of rock and culinary icons reimagined as Catholic Saints? Stay true to your Southern roots (or pretend you have them) with the chicken and waffles. Crunchy fried chicken meets crispy, airy waffles and tender, braised collard greens. If you’re lucky and they’re still in season you may be able to get a few slices of zucchini bread, a family recipe from one of g.e.b.’s chef’s. If not, console yourself with a delicious cup of locally roasted Metropolis coffee or feel born again with their spicy bloody mary.
Biscuit and Gravy at G.E.B. (Photo courtesy of Jason Budd)
For those still looking for rock n’ roll but with a French twist
Named after the villa near Nice, France where the Rolling Stones recorded “Exile on Main Street”, Nellcôte (833 W Randolph St.) indulges all your Francophile desires. Whether it be the French omelet studded with asparagus, gouda, leeks and fingerling potatoes or pain perdu (e.g., French toast) with local strawberries, rhubarb and Chantilly crème. Rather indulge? Poached eggs and lobster hash get a bit of a Spanish twist with the addition of smoked paprika hollandaise. No matter what you decide know there’s plenty of sparkling wine flowing so have some bubbles to top off your weekend.
Lobster Hash at Nellcôte (Photo courtesy Nellcôte, https://www.facebook.com/nellcotechicago)
Blueberry Pancakes at Nellcôte (Photo courtesy Nellcôte, https://www.facebook.com/nellcotechicago)
For those looking for a West Loop Classic
Ina’s (1235 W Randolph St.) is known as the home of the Breakfast Queen for a reason. Pancakes, French toast, omelets and other classic brunch dishes dot the menu. For something a little different try the vegetable hash, peppered with sweet potatoes, eggplant, Brussels sprouts and mushrooms all topped with two poached eggs.
Vegetable Hash at Ina’s (Photo courtesy of Plate, http://www.plateonline.com/)
For those looking to avoid brunch
As strange as it may sound, I know there are folks out there that avoid brunch. For those just looking for a good cup of coffee head to La Colombe (955 W Randolph St.) Feel good about your earth conscious, fair traded brew while sampling a freshly baked almond croissant from Alliance Bakery. Having a donut desire? Pop into Glazed and Infused (813 W Fulton Market) for a sophisticated take on the vanilla glazed or look for a seasonal offering such as the pumpkin old fashioned.
Roasting Coffee at La Columbe (Photo courtesy of La Columbe, http://lacolombe.com/)
Old Fashions at Glazed and Infused (Photo courtesy of Glazed and Infused, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Glazed-and-Infused/393229364026150)