Where to brunch near the Pride Parade route
If you're watching the Pride Parade or taking part in the weekend's festivities, you're going to need to eat some brunch—or at the very least lunch—at one of these nearby restaurants.
All that sun. All those floats. All that vodka. Pride weekend in Chicago is a celebration of excess, and if you want to survive this thing, you better eat. Here are our picks for some good spots to have brunch or lunch near the festivities; scroll down to the map at the bottom of the page to find a restaurant near your Parade-watching perch.
The Bagel The Bagel never goes away…it just moves locations. In its current spot (the third since 1950) the deli manages to bring a little Jewish curmudgeonliness to Boystown. So when you’re at the counter ordering your potato knish or sitting in one of the booths dipping a fluffy roll into the magnificent, housemade chicken soup, expect to have a brusque comment or two thrown your way. After all, the Bagel hasn’t survived all these years by being nice. 3107 N Broadway (773-477-0300, bagelrestaurant.com). Mon–Sat 8am–10pm; Sun 8am–9pm. Average sandwich: $7.
Cheesie's Pub & Grub "Do you like grilled cheese? Do you also like macaroni and cheese?" Answer affirmatively to both of these questions, and the woman behind the counter of this divey bar where grilled cheese—and only grilled cheese—is served will conclude that you will like the Mac: mac and cheese between two pieces of Texas toast. It's a mess of a sandwich, just like all the others, which come topped with less extreme ingredients, such as chicken breast or ham. And yes, the combination of Merkts cheddar, American cheese, elbow noodles and the cutest little cup of spicy tomato soup is very hard not to like. Stumble into Cheesie's blitzed from next-door Berlin, and it might just be love. 958 W Belmont Ave (773-388-1574, cheesieschicago.com). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $8.
Chicago Diner Even non-vegetarians know Chicago Diner. The vibe is normal, everyday diner, albeit with soy milk, tofu and tempeh on the giant menu. Waits for weekend brunch can get painful (even though the menu is served daily), but patient non-meat-eaters are rewarded with dense (and fairly flaky) soy margarine biscuits and sweet chocolate-almond muffins made with vegan egg substitute. French toast is a little soggy and lackluster—but after all, this is diner food. 3411 N Halsted St (773-935-6696, veggiediner.com). Brunch, lunch, dinner. Average main course: $11.
Crisp The Korean-style chicken at this cheery storefront is fresh, of good quality and comes slathered in three sauces: a sticky barbecue, a hot sauce–laced buffalo and a sesame-soy glaze dubbed “Seoul Sassy.” There’s also a decent bibimbap (best ordered with “marinated” vegetables, beef, an egg and brown rice) and Korean-style burritos whose fresh vegetables benefit from a liberal slather of sweetish hot sauce, but the chicken is the thing. 2940 N Broadway (877-693-8653, crisponline.com). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $9.
Falafill Maher Chebaro is a man who loves condiments. So while practically the only thing on the menu at his Lakeview storefront is falafel—fried to order and greaseless—it’s the salad bar visit that comes with each falafel pita or bowl that makes this place well worth a visit. There, toum (emulsified roasted garlic), sweet bulgur salad, spicy pickled ginger and creamy tabouli easily turn very good falafel into a very satisfying meal. 3202 N Broadway (773-525-0052, eatfalafill.com). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $6.
Frog n Snail There’s no pleasing some people if you’re Dale Levitski—the divisive celebrity chef has one camp that loves him, and another that only wants to slam him on Twitter. This bistro-by-night, crêperie-by-day won’t quiet either camp. Levitski fans will recommend the anchovy crostini, the housemade ricotta and the gorgeous, thoughtful salads. The haters, meanwhile, will warn against overly salted chicken, overcooked frog legs and dry carrot cake. We’d love to be able to take a side here, but the sad truth is both camps are saying things that should be heeded. 3124 N Broadway (773-661-9166, frognsnail.com). Brunch (Sat, Sun), dinner. Average main course: $22.
Hearty Even with a menu that changes throughout the year, you can always approach Hearty in two ways: You can go the route of extreme gluttony, starting with a blue-cheese tart followed by glorious fried chicken with creamed collard greens. Or you could go the deconstructed route via sophisticated beefaroni (no, that’s not a contradiction) or rabbit corn-dog. Whichever you choose, there may be hits and misses, but if you start with a cocktail (all of them are solid) and end with warm New England Indian pudding or a red velvet Twinkie, it’ll be easy to forgive any bumps in the road. 3819 N Broadway (773-244-9866, heartyboys.com/hearty). Brunch (Sun), dinner (closed Mon, Tue). Average main course: $20.
La Ciudad A Mexican restaurant is one thing. A Mexico City restaurant is, as this place demonstrates, another. La Ciudad's dining room is slicker than most Mexican spots at this price point, and the menu leans slightly to De Fed specialties (for instance, quesadillas are fried and empanadaish, true to Mexico City style). Housemade salsas and moles make plates like an otherwise commonplace enchilada platter pop; same goes for the steak sopes, made with masa that is ground in-house. But the real difference at this restaurant is the crowd, a fun-loving mix of loyalists that BYO a lot of B. 4515 N Sheridan Rd (773-728-2887, chicagomexicangrill.com). Average main course: $12.
Nookies Tree We’ll admit it: we’ve never really considered trying the food here when we were sober enough to taste it. No. 3 in the local “chain” of diners has always been a 3am favorite of Boystown barhoppers, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that, in the light of day, this place can cook. Fruit-filled pancakes and French toast are hits, as are the frittatas (try the combo of bacon, mushroom, Gouda cheese and caramelized onions). It’s a great way to start the day—or end the night. 3334 N Halsted St (773-248-9888, nookiesrestaurants.net). Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner (24hrs Fri, Sat). Average main course: $10.
Panino's Pizzeria The Broadway address of this pizzeria leads to a stark, seatless carryout-and-delivery operation, churning out deep-dish and Chicago-style square-cut thin-crust. Around the corner on Waveland is its sit-down counterpart, a no-nonsense room where cheap Chianti flows like water and the menu is identical to any other family-style Italian-American restaurant in town. Romantic? Hardly. Destination-worthy? Nope. But the Neapolitan pizza (a relatively new addition to the menu) is far better than we could have imagined: puffy and blackened on the exterior, thin and wet in the center, and with no skimping on the cheese and toppings. (After all, this is still a Chicago pizzeria.) 3702 N Broadway (773-472-6200, paninospizzeria.com). Lunch, dinner. Average pizza: $15.
The Reservoir Every neighborhood should have a bar like the Reservoir, a nice, clean space with good looks, personable bartenders and whatever you want to drink (a few wines, a lot of beer, a couple of specialty cocktails) or eat (crostini with burrata, burgers, truffle fries). But few neighborhoods appreciate a place like this as much as this still-ragged stretch of Uptown. 844 W Montrose Ave (773-275-4000). Mon–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat 11am–3am; Sun 11am–2pm. Average beer: $5.
Revolución This “Mexican steakhouse” plays by its own rules. Here, traditional cuts are available, but most of the menu is devoted to house specialties, from a bright tilapia ceviche with housemade chips to arrachera a la cerveza, a beer-marinated skirt steak served over smooth avocado-tomatillo salsa. Revolución is as fun a place to drink as to eat, especially with oversize margaritas and surprisingly good cocktails, like the smoky Oaxacan Manhattan. 3443 N Broadway (773-661-9893, revolucionsteakhouse.com). Dinner. Average main course: $20.
Sandwich Me In DIY is the ethos at this locally minded sandwich shop—if the chefs here can make it in-house, they do. This applies to everything from the sturdy yet soft rolls the sandwiches come on to the lemon soda meant to wash it all down. A Gunthorp pork sandwich is textbook and satisfying, with a salad that gets crunch from the unusual (but not unwelcome) addition of potato sticks. But a bowl of apple-pie filling is a little like the restaurant’s policy of letting any musician—any musician at all—play in the store: a nice idea, but only in theory. 3037 N Clark St (773-348-3037, sandwichmeinchicago.com). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $8.
Senza This stylish, cute Lakeview restaurant is groundbreaking for those espousing a gluten-free diet. Here, they can dine safely on a five- or nine-course tasting menu without the specter of wheat haunting them. Even we didn’t feel the glaring absence of gluten, and the pastas (such as gnocchi made with gluten-free flour and tossed with sesame and poppy seeds in a play on an everything bagel) were particularly impressive. We can’t say the same for the tough steak, but you can get a great steak elsewhere—stick to what this spot does best. 2873 N Broadway (773-770-3527, senzachicago.com). Breakfast (Mon–Fri), lunch (Tue–Fri), dinner (Tue–Sat). Average main course: $28.
TAC Quick Thai The basic menu appeases the masses that flood the simple, minimalist room of this top-notch Thai joint. But the true standouts can be found on the translated Thai-language menu, with never-fail flavor explosions such as tart and smoky pork-and-rice sausage; ground chicken with crispy basil and preserved eggs; and warm sweet-and-sour beef jerky. Don’t disregard the specials board; promising rotations have included basil duck stir-fried with garlic and mushrooms, and lettuce wrap–ready deep-fried mackerel with apples, cucumbers, fish sauce and chilies. 3930 N Sheridan Rd (773-327-5253, tacquick.net). Lunch, dinner (closed Tue). Average main course: $9.
Waffles This mod eatery specializes in two versions of its eponymous breakfast food: a crisp and airy Brussels waffle, and a dense and sugary Liége waffle. Both types are prepared expertly, and shine on their own. But when topped (Waffles offers toppings from cream cheese to meatballs), things get riskier. On the Mexican chocolate Brussels waffle, the combination of orange and chocolate works, but a savory pork shoulder only fights with the sweet Liège waffle it tops. Best to get these things served plain. 3617 N Broadway (773-281-8475, waffleschicago.com). Mon–Thu 8:30am–2pm; Fri–Sun 8:30am–6pm. Average main course: $12.
Wilde Bar and Restaurant We know, we know: The last thing Chicago needs is another Irish bar. But once inside this sprawling (yet somehow still inviting) space—which has separate areas for eating pub grub, watching the game from the bar and even reading (in the cozy "library")—you just may find yourself wanting more. 3130 N Broadway (773-244-0404, wildechicago.com). Mon–Fri 11am–2am; Sat 10am–3am; Sun 10am–2am. Average beer: $5.
Wood It’s hard to pick a favorite dish at Wood because, truth is, all of chef Ashlee Aubin’s dishes are good, from the lightly battered soft-shell crab to the ricotta-filled squash blossoms to the juicy chicken topped with a panzanella salad. Okay, none break any new ground, but this is well-executed, full-flavored neighborhood food, each dish as solid as the next. Cocktails like the amaro-based Amalfi Cooler are nice, too, but there’s enough drinking in this neighborhood—Wood reminds that, hey, Boystown’s gotta eat too. 3335 N Halsted St (773-935-9663, woodchicago.com). Brunch (Sun), dinner. Average share plate: $22.
Yoshi’s Café The room is reminiscent of a retirement-home cafeteria, and the menu has multiple personalities, but somehow Yoshi pulls it all together. Considering his 20-plus years in the game putting out mishmashed food long before the term fusion was coined, it’s no shock to see yellowtail with guac or a Wagyu burger topped with a huge chunk of Brie. Thanks to Yoshi’s former gig as a fish guy, seafood sings here, especially seasonal items like fat, juicy mussels in lemongrass curry. 3257 N Halsted St (773-248-6160, yoshiscafe.com). Brunch (Sun), dinner (Tue–Sun). Average main course: $25.
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