1. Brunch in The Lobby at The Peninsula
You haven't had brunch until you've had it here, and no matter how your strategize, it's impossible to shove it all in. The immense tableau of pristine dishes sprawls across the entire Lobby dining area while a stringed quartet plays from up above. There's a Chinese-inspired station (roast duck carving and Hong Kong Beef Tenderloin), fresh fruits served with creams in cocktail glasses, omlets and breakfast meats, salads and veggies, sushi (for which the hotel is very well-respected), many other hot dishes and a sweets table that will blow your mind (see image at top). There's also an adorbs station just for kids all set up on kid-sized buffet tables. It'll cost you $75 for adults and $32 for kids, but it's absolutely a worthwhile splurge.
Look who we recently saw dining during the brunch hour at The Peninsula Chicago?
2. Sixteen at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
The sophisticated, almost foreign ingredients on the menu at Sixteen may leave you feeling stupified, but have faith in executive chef Thomas Lents, the former chef de cuisine at Robuchon with a knack for attracting Michelin stars like honey to a bee. Maple and citrus glazed black cod, shirred farm egg, butter poached Maine lobster, citrus verrine and ginger beignets -- every dish arrives like a beautiful a present to unwrap and savor. Top it off with Lent's idea of "luxury dining" -- an elevated form of fine dining that's more polished and accessible -- and fancy feels happier and more relaxed.
Every dish that comes to the table at Sixteen looks just as beautiful as this Meyer Lemon Gateaux
3. Sable Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Palomar Chicago
The success of Sable kitchen and bar is the result of an awesome pairing: former Top Chef contestant Heather Terhune and head bartender Mike Ryan. Terhune's small-but-not-too-small plates focus on elevated, totally savory American comfort food where one plate is better than the next. In the bar, Ryan, also a former chef, is the man behind one of the deepest and most literary bar menus we've ever laid eyes on. Backing it all up are some of the best cocktails we've ever tasted, too.
Tuna Tartare Tostados are one of our favorite plates at Sable in Hotel Palomar Chicago
4. David Burke’s Primehouse at The James Chicago
A steak is not just a steak at David Burke's, which houses its own Himalayan, salt-tiled room where select cuts are dry aged up to 75 days. Sounds intense, and it is, with the process yielding a variety of new flavors from nutty to gamey. Either way, the result is a tender, perfectly marble-ized steak that you'll think likely dream about in the months and years that follow. The rest of the menu -- from the popover, pretzel-like bread and locally grown side dishes to a remarkable wine menu and beautiful deserts -- is rockstar, too.
A 35 Day Kansas City Strip stands tender, intensely flavored and perfectly alone at David Burke's Primehouse
5. Longman & Eagle
Beyond the downtown at the relaxed Longman & Eagle in Logan Square, the menu is eccentric and creative with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. Dishes are creative and artful, blending right into the cool, local scene. The bar is fantastic with an awesome beer selection, 148 whiskeys and uniquely spun cocktails. And we're salivating just thinking about doing brunch there. Stay over night in rooms starting at $85 and you'll also get two tokens for two pours of whiskey at the bar.
There's always a crowd at the no resos accepted Longman & Eagle
Disclosure: We dined at some of the above restaurants while on other assignments, but rest assured that all photos and opinions are completely our own.
[Photos: Nina Kokotas Hahn]