Come Sunday—Seeking out the Best Brunch in and around Naperville

September 2015 View more

WafflesFor reasons possibly economic, but mostly unfathomable, brunch seems to have been relegated to just a few select spots on the calendar. The triumvirate of Easter, Mother’s Day and, to a lesser extent, Father’s Day, now more or less comprises the entire suburban brunch experience, as extended families don their Sunday best and join the masses to enjoy this holiest of unions between breakfast and lunch but a few meager times a year.

Traditionalists might argue that limiting brunch to just these special occasions is exactly what keeps brunch itself special. After all, even if the marketplace now allows us to shoot off fireworks any old night of the year or drink apple cider in the middle of March, doing so somehow cheapens the experience, removing the significance and value long associated with enjoying these things only within their long-held limited windows of opportunity. This argument is not entirely invalid, of course, but it loses some of its potency and applicability when applied to brunch. Why? Because brunch is awesome. Fireworks are just a fleeting combination of gunpowder and sky, and cider is just juice that knows somebody. But brunch. C’mon.

Brunch is a delicious, leisurely thumb-of-the-nose to alarm clocks, moderation and “we-stopped-serving-breakfast-at-11” scolds, all under one glorious chafing dish. Brunch fits into the weekend like a hand in an oven mitt (because no one is suggesting brunch as an everyday thing, of course—we’re all reasonable here, and this isn’t Maui). It’s made-to-order omelets. And carving stations. And warm maple syrup. And Bloody Mary’s. And “of course I’d like another cup of coffee.” It is, in fact, one of the most appropriate venues for the word “and” ever invented.

Parents talking to the kidsSo by all means, break out the bonnets next April and fall into the bunny photo line with the rest of the world. Treat mom to a day away from the waffle iron and a table she doesn’t have to set or bus. Give dear old dad the rare socially acceptable opportunity to enjoy crab legs and eggs Benedict on the same plate. But if brunch is so great that these special occasions demand it , and it is, then don’t confine it to three measly days a year. Make this Sunday, or any other Sunday, a special occasion in its own right at one of these great ongoing Naperville-area brunches.

Meson Sabika

The longer one lives in Naperville, the easier it becomes to take Meson Sabika for granted. Don’t. In a sea of chain outlets and otherwise respectable places stuck anchoring strip malls like culinary J.C. Penneys, this standalone Spanish-influenced standout is as distinctive and worthy of civic pride as the nearby Riverwalk. Even if you’re not crazy about tapas, you’d have to be crazy not to like the Sunday brunch buffet here, featuring, yes, hot and cold tapas, but also carving and omelet stations and enough desserts to render dinner later a borderline impossibility. When the weather is cooperative, the outdoor plantation setting is just about perfect, and any time of the year you’d be hard-pressed to find a better reason to wear something other than PJ’s to breakfast.
10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Adults, $32.95; kids (7-12), $14.95
1025 Aurora Avenue

Eggs Benedict toasted English muffins ham poached eggs and hollaAllgauer’s

There’s something dispiriting about the thought of breakfast at a hotel. But the Lisle Hilton isn’t some motor lodge along the Interstate, and its champagne brunch spread is surely as lavish and impressive as anything you’ll find in the area. From sushi to salad to sausage and everything in between, there is plenty of bang for your considerable buck here, and frankly you probably won’t be eating again before Tuesday afternoon after tackling this spread, so it’s actually a pretty decent value considering.
10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (last seating at 1 p.m.)
Adults, $39.95; kids (4-12), $17.95
3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle

Cantigny Park

You may well know Cantigny’s Red Oak Room solely for the three “special event” brunches enumerated in the intro above, all of which are well presented and ridiculously well attended, but the weekly Sunday buffet here is definitely worth a lower-key off-holiday trip as well. They tend to lean far to the breakfast side of the brunch portmanteau here, with fewer legitimate sandwich and salad options than most places, but the relaxed atmosphere and scaled-back pricing are welcome outliers on the suburban scene.
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Adults, $16; kids (4-10), $10
1S151 S. Winfield Road, Wheaton

Paris Bistro

It’s a valid contrarian point—isn’t an a la carte brunch just a matter of semantics? How is that breakfast-lunch menu any different than a late morning at the IHOP? So noted. But bringing out the long tables and heat lamps would only befoul what they’ve got going at this quaint little satellite of the AMC 16 theater complex in south Naperville. It’s all about the atmosphere. Pick a quiet table by the window and imagine the weekend matinée masses streaming by are boats on the Seine as you enjoy a delicious crepe monsieur or some pistachio crumb French toast.
8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays
$8-$13 (a la carte)
2835 Showplace Drive

Delicious pile of hot homemade pancakes with fresh raspberries aWildwood

If you just can’t come around on the concept of a la carte brunch, you may be tempted to stop reading now since Wildwood also eschews the buffet option. But before you close your browser or set down your magazine, just two more quick words for you—free doughnut. Welcome back. It’s technically a complimentary New Orleans-style beignet that kicks things off at this handsome steakhouse, but that should only serve to sweeten the deal. There are also a number of deli-in-a-glass specialty Bloody Mary’s from which to choose, along with full breakfast and lunch menus to sate and satisfy—whether you choose to chase your beignet with a slice of quiche or a 12-ounce cut of prime rib.
10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
$8-$18 (a la carte)
477 S. Third Street, Geneva