One of the things I discovered after moving to Chicago was my love for brunch. Fortunately for me, the city offers a myriad of brunch choices, with excellent vegetarian and vegan options.
For the two years I lived in downtown Chicago near Navy Pier, Karyn’s Cooked was one of my favorite spots for vegan brunch. I especially loved the banana french toast with raspberry coulis and the potato pancakes. When I went back a couple of weeks ago, I was somewhat disappointed to discover that it wasn’t nearly as delicious as I had remembered.
The potato pancakes weren’t salted, and there is nothing I dislike more than bland food. I’m hoping this was an anomaly. The french toast was quite good, though sweet, and taking a bite and closing my eyes, I was transported back to the times when I first moved to Chicago that I would come here with my vegan friends and revel in the fact that we could eat everything on the menu.
This is the first vegan restaurant that I discovered in Chicago, and because of that, I think it will always be a nostalgic favorite.
By public transporation: Chicago Brown Line
A friend introduced me to M Henrietta soon after I first moved to Chicago, and I quickly became addicted. It used to be the primary place that my friends and I would get together for weekend brunch. My favorite brunch food in all of Chicago used to be their blisscakes, pancakes with vanilla mascarpone and a crunchy oat topping.
They also have a vegan scramble on the menu, which is actually fairly tasty, though I’m not as obsessed with it as I am with blisscakes.
Unfortunately, the last couple of times I’ve gone there, the pancakes have been soggy and not as delicious as usual. But, I still crave them and keep going back.
By public transportation: Granville Red Line
I went to M Henry for the first time recently. The menu is the same as at M Henrietta, but I was thrilled to discover that the food is better. The blisscakes were so divine the first time that I went back the next day for another round. On the weekends, they have blisscake specials, so the two days I went, I had raspberry rhubarb blisscakes and mango sour cherry blisscakes.
Of course, there is also other food on the menu. The house potatoes are fantastic when crispy, but other than that, it has been quite a while since I’ve tried anything other than blisscakes. I’ve never heard any complaints from my non-blisscake-addicted friends though.
Plus, this place is great for food photography. The plating is quite pretty. I would say this is now my new favorite brunch place in Chicago.
By public transportation: Bryn Mawr Red Line or 22 Bus
The Chicago Diner is a vegan restaurant that has great lunch and dinner food, but they also do a mean brunch. They have amazing vegan shakes and lots of vegan baked goods, including vegan cinnamon rolls. This is another place I like for the novelty of being able to eat anything on the menu, and everything I have had there has been quite good!
By public transportation: Addison Red Line
Located next to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, Wildberry is always busy. I’ve never been there and not waited at least an hour. Although I’m usually starving by the time we are seated, the wait is worth it.
Last time I was there, I had this beautiful fluffy waffle topped with berries and general deliciousness. It even gave my beloved blisscakes a run for their money. I also had hash browns that I still dream about – they were so crispy and amazing.
Everyone I know who has been there raves about Wildberry, and other than the ridiculously long wait, I have nothing bad to say about it.
By public transportation: State/Lake El or any bus that goes down Michigan Ave
Tweet is a small, cash-only brunch place north of Lincoln Park and Lakeview. It’s cheap and has good food, making it a winner in my book.
I’ve had waffles and pancakes there, and both were quite good. The outdoor seating is a nice area to hang out on a sunny morning.
By public transportation: Argyle Red Line
I’ve had mixed experiences with Kanela, but I’m mentioning it because I thought it would give me diabetes.
Red velvet fresh toast probably should not exist. It consists of red velvet cake turned into french toast and topped with cream cheese frosting and whipped cream. There is even maple syrup on the side in case the cake and frosting are not sweet enough. I love red velvet cake, and I was simultaneously intrigued and disgusted by the idea of red velvet french toast, so when I saw it on the menu, I ordered it. Of course, it was delicious. But no one should eat an entire plate of it. I ate about half the plate and then felt sick from the sugar for the rest of the day. Even now, looking at the picture makes me feel slightly nauseous.
A far better option is the french toast sampler, which has three different types of french toast (including red velvet french toast). It is equally delicious, but comes with a reduced fear of instant diabetes.
Moral of the story: if you’re in Chicago, eat brunch!