It has come to my attention that Chicago is a brunch city.
And by “come to my attention,” I mean that I have long known that Chicago is big on brunch. But it occurred to me that this is actually kind of interesting. Why is brunch such a big deal here?
I’ve finally figured it out: laziness. Being lazy is the key.
Now don’t go taking this the wrong way. I love being lazy. Waking up at 11am and then having a meal that is specifically named for that time that you got up way too late for breakfast but you still want breakfast food, but it’s lunchtime, so it’s not quite breakfast or lunch, but kind of both…yeah, it’s totally awesome.
On Saturday, Craig and I went to the Bongo Room in Wicker Park. It may be the most popular brunch spot in the city, and it is widely considered to have the best brunch in town. I was skeptical, but I figured I would give it a shot.
I’m not usually one to wait a long time for food, but seeing as I had to write a review of the place, I didn’t have much choice. Unless, of course, I woke up at 8am and got there right as it opened, but that totally defeats the purpose of BRUNCH. Duh.
So we waited about an hour. And while we waited, we walked down to Wormhole and got coffee. Then we wandered into Reckless Records, checked out the vintage shops along Milwaukee Ave. When it got close to the time we were supposedly to be seated, we sat on the little plastic orange bench outside and tried to ignore the growling of our stomachs.
Finally, we were inside. And that’s when it all started to make sense. Perusing the menu, everything sounded incredible. I was hungry; it was past noon and we had yet to eat anything of substance (except for a snack at Wormhole because we were, in fact, that hungry). I looked around the small dining room and saw friends laughing, couples sipping mimosas, and families chatting about their plans for the day.
And suddenly it hit me. Brunch isn’t actually about the food. I mean, the food is great. Who doesn’t love gourmet eggs benedict and fruit-filled pancakes and 1 o’clock in the afternoon? But that’s not the point. It’s a laziness thing. It’s about relaxing and doing nothing all day. A day that starts with brunch is a day intended to be spent lazing about and doing exactly what you want to do. No rules. No deadlines. Nothing. Waiting an hour doesn’t matter. It’s all part of the appeal.
So why Chicago? You can get brunch in every city, yes. But in Chicago, it’s a thing. This city is filled with Yolks and Bongo Rooms, Lula Cafes and Milk & Honeys. So why here?
Well, I chalk it up to two main things:
1) Chicago is a young city, and young people like to spend entire days doing nothing. We’re really skilled at it, and we can do so without feeling like we’ve wasted any time. Being lazy is necessary to sanity.
2) The weather sucks. This might sound silly, but I think it’s a major factor. On those bone-chilling single-digit days, or those sweltering 90-degree scorchers, who wants to do anything? Nobody. Everyone wants to snuggle inside in the warmth, or escape the heat with some serious AC. And maybe a bloody mary.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve never encountered a city that’s as obsessed with brunch as Chicago. The number of brunch-only restaurants is staggering, and more and more upscale bars and dining spots are beginning to offer brunch on weekends just to keep up with the demand.
But who could complain? Brunch is delicious…