It’s time to add Brunch N Burgers to your Chicago brunch list
In her first restaurant, Chef Erica McGhee offers over-the-top breakfast sandwiches and burgers, perfect for a lazy Sunday brunch.
A word of advice: don’t come to Brunch N Burgers if you are less than voracious. Do you know those weekend mornings when you linger so long in bed that you accidentally have a devouring hunger reduced to feverishly Google searching for “brunch near me”? It is when you should make the trip to Brunch N Burgers. And when you do, I promise you it will be worth all the pain and suffering you have incurred because of the wait.
Located on a quiet stretch of Taylor Street in Little Italy, Brunch N Burgers is the first restaurant of Chef Erica McGhee, a former chef at the Hilton Chicago. McGhee’s menu, as you might have guessed from the name, focuses on brunch (think breakfast sandwiches, shrimp and oatmeal, chilaquiles and hash) and loaded burgers. assorted toppings, plus a handful of other sandwich offerings. Visitors order at the counter and take a seat in the restaurant’s dining room, which is comfortably equipped with an electric fireplace on the wall.
I had fed my appetite all day when I arrived at Brunch N Burgers for lunch on a recent Saturday, having seen photos of the restaurant’s towering burgers online before my visit. Still, I don’t think I fully prepared for the awesome creation that landed on my table. Called Southern Draw and served on top of a small wooden deli board, this five-inch-high burger stunner stacks two steak patties with slices of pork belly and smears them in bubbling chili cheese, pickled onions, mayo, tomato and a handful of mixed greens. He was so impressive in size that my father, who was dining with me, let out a sort of shocked hiss.
The Southern Draw isn’t the restaurant’s most popular burger (reportedly BNB’s signature, which comes with jam and a fried egg), but its flavor profile – the rich pork belly, tangy onions. – represents the mastery of Brunch N Burger of salty, sweet and tangy harmony. There is special attention to this balance in every dish, sometimes with a surprising effect: a three-cheese mac and cheese, for example, is sprinkled with corn crumbs and a drizzle of caramel sauce; the egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, which you can order with bacon or sausage, get a nice smear of strawberry jam. McGhee’s has solved the classic brunch conundrum – sweet or savory – by layering the two in a blend of flavors, for exquisite effect.
Of course, not all of these toppings are for the faint of heart, and I warn you that browsing through the offerings at Brunch N Burgers can be a pretty strenuous process. I managed to eat about two-thirds of my huge burger before asking for a takeout box, then quickly headed home for a nap. You might be able to save yourself from the food coma by opting for some of the less decadent options on the menu, like a sandwich of grilled vegetables and cashew pesto, but then again, you don’t come to a place called Brunch N. Burgers for healthy food. Empty your afternoon and get ready for a pleasant after-meal nap.
The atmosphere: Casual and friendly, with a mix of benches and tables. And although you order at the counter, the service is extremely warm and attentive – the staff bring the food to your table and check in throughout the meal.
The food: It’s in the name! FYI: Brunch menu items are only available on weekends.
The beverage: BYOB, so don’t hesitate to whip up your own boozy brunch. Coffee, soft drinks and a very Sweet iced tea are also on hand.
Tip for downtime: Visit on weekends so you don’t miss the brunch menu.