Beer might be the breakfast of champions, but an order of eggs every now and then doesn’t hurt. Chicagoans happen to have a culturally ingrained love of both brews and brunch, which explains why there are so many great diners, doughnut shops and cafes to start the morning off right.
The nostalgia at this ’60s- and ’70s-inspired Wicker Park diner has a “No Country For Old Men” swing to it—minus the fear of imminent death. Picture wood-paneled walls, vintage brown ceramic mugs, a soulful jukebox and bar stools that fill up quickly from the crowd passing between Dove’s and its sister restaurant, Big Star, next door. Dove’s Tex-Mex menu straddles both borders with chicken-fried chicken with chorizo verde gravy; smoked brisket tacos; pozole rojo; migas omelettes; and sweet corn tamales. You’ll find nitro cold-brew coffee on tap, but if you’re going with the hair of the dog, the mezcal selection is definitely slick.
1545 N. Damen Ave., doveschicago.com
Whether you like your toast just warmed up slightly or burned to a crisp, Baker Miller lets you do it your way with individual toasters on every brunch table. That’s just one of the charms of this sunny Lincoln Square artisanal bakery and brunch spot that churns out delicious housemade breads and pastries using grains from its very own mill (honestly, it’s not nearly as twee as it sounds). Anything here with bacon is a must-order, especially the candied bacon biscuit with baked egg and pimento cheese. Try to arrive early enough to grab one of the bakery’s coveted cinnamon rolls, which have their own cult following.
4610 N. Western Ave., bakermillerchicago.com
Leave it to the Virgin Hotel to create a throwback diner that’s both swanky and quirky. Case in point: you can catch episodes of nostalgic shows like “Land of the Lost” while warming up with locally roasted coffee. Diner food sees cheffed-up touches, like tres leches French toast with brioche, roasted pineapple and maple syrup; and smoked corned beef hash Benedict with poached eggs, mustard and horseradish hollandaise. Those who missed the era when Chicago’s venerable Breakfast Queen, Ina Pinkney, operated her namesake restaurant can catch her famous Heavenly Hots on this menu.
203 N. Wabash Ave., virginhotels.com/dine-and-drink/miss-rickys
Late night bite: Johnny’s Grill
Since the Logan Square greasy spoon is straight out of Edward Hopper’s iconic “Nighthawks” painting, it’s only fitting that Johnny’s Grill serves breakfast to the late-night crowd. Former Boka pastry chef Sarah Jordan took over the longtime diner, giving the menu a hipster upgrade and adding a craft beer and cocktail bar next door called Flower Shop. In a nod to her birth-place, the Irish-born chef has a killer traditional Irish breakfast with bangers, back bacon, white and black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs and buttery toast.
2545 N. Kedzie Ave., thejohnnysgrill.com