If you’ve been doing your trip to Chicago right, then you’re bound to wake up one morning with a woozy head, fuzzy memory, and hankering for something that combines both the very bottom and very top of the food pyramid. The Windy City offers a bevy of great brunch spots, but if you downed enough Vegas bombs last night to begin thinking you were actually in Vegas, the last thing you want is to be judged by the guy manning the create-your-own-omelette station. So pass on the posh spread at the Peninsula and head somewhere where the coffee keeps coming and the servers speak half-awake mumble.
Frances Original Deli, 2552 N. Clark St.
Frances is where it’s at if you want the good old stuff. There’s no vegan sausage gravy here, no buckwheat pancakes with lingonberry compote, or any of that other “comfort food” that doesn’t involve butter. The name is a bit of a misnomer, because Frances is a sit-down restaurant with a kitschy diner feel, but the menu is true to the spirit of a New York delicatessen. No fake orgasms have been had here (or real ones, that we know of), but the food will leave you feeling pretty damn delighted anyway. Hand-sliced corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, turkey, ham, and salami all feature in a wide variety of breakfast and lunch dishes, from the reuben omelette to the Day After Thanksgiving sandwich – which is exactly what it sounds like. Everything is fresh, from the homemade sausage patties and potato salad to the bakery-sourced bread. Nothing comes frozen here, except the Twisted Oreo shake and perhaps the smile on your server’s face if you get too high-maintenance.
You should order: The B.L.A.T. if you’re feeling breakfasty (stands for Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato, topped with two fried eggs and garlic aioli and sandwiched between two toasted slices of sourdough), or the Turkey Avocado Club for lunch. And if you need hair of the dog, try the Habanero Bacon Bloody Mary.
Bonus: Brian Gallivan, aka Second City’s Sassy Gay Friend, has dined here. Do you need any further endorsement?
The Bongo Room, locations in Wicker Park, Andersonville, and South Loop
Has last night’s devil-may-care impulsiveness not quite worn off yet? Hit up this place for brunch (seriously, the menu says “Sinful” right across the top). Pumpkin carrot cake pancakes? Chocolate tower French toast? Beef tenderloin and spinach eggs benedict with wine in the hollandaise sauce? Seriously, why are you still reading? GO THERE NOW.
You should order: Any of the above.
Bonus: With three locations, chances are you’re close to one no matter where you’re doing your Walk of Shame.
Wilde, 3130 N. Broadway
That’s right. Not only is it a great place to drunkenly philosophize, it’s a good place to recover from your hangover (either alcohol- or deep-thinking-induced) the next day. The large spread of breakfast and lunch dishes contains just enough of a twist – cinnamon-orange French toast, crab cake eggs benedict – to provide a sense of novelty, but remains classic enough to satisfy that comfort food urge. And the brunch drinks menu – including excellent Bloody Marys and bellinis made with fresh peach or raspberry puree – might just convince you to rekindle your buzz. After all, you know Oscar would fully endorse it.
You should order: The Egg Sandwich (which elevates a breakfast standard by adding Irish cheddar and carmelized onions to your bacon-and-egg sammy) or the Wilde Macaroni and Cheese if you’re in lunch mode.
Bonus: If you’re breakfasting with friends in a worse state than you are, find out how amusing it is to perform a recitation for your companions from one of the verbose works lining the restaurant’s bookshelves. Tell them you’ll stop at the cost of a Bloody Mary.
So go ahead: redefine The Morning After. It will definitely be something to remember...unlike last night.