The shtick: Meat, but also a breezy, communal café and cheffed-up specials.
The vibe: You cannot go to Publican Quality Meats looking for luxury or privacy. The brunching area is set up in the back of the butcher shop/gourmet emporium/sandwichery. The seating area is tiny (like, scoot-out-your-chair-too-far-and-you’ll-hit-the-guy-behind-you levels of cramped), all the tables are communal, and no matter when you arrive, there’s already a crowd of regulars and protein fiends. But what it lacks in elbow room, it makes up for in laidback, breezy, white-subway-tiled aesthetic appeal. 7.5 out of 10
The food: On every brunch menu across this great nation, there is some dish akin to the $12 Butcher’s Breakfast: two eggs, meat, and potatoes. As is expected from a place primarily known for its butchering, this is a pretty solid interpretation of said staple, complete with double the meat (bacon AND breakfast sausage, both worthy of plate space) and two runny-fried eggs.
PQM’s menu benefits from a regularly rotating specials section, and on the day we visited, one of the options was fettunta, a Tuscan version of bruschetta. It’s the perfect showcase for Publican Quality Breads, the just-expanded in-house baking operation that’s putting out some impressive loaves these days. The day’s version came with beans, greens, and (yet again) wonderfully runny eggs. Look to this part of the menu for satisfying, cheffed-up fare that doesn’t leave you stuffed. 8 out of 10
The drinks: The Intelligentsia coffee is strong. The Bloody Mary, garnished with (of all things) a single shrimp, is, unfortunately, not—limp and watery instead of kicky and potent. 6.5 out of 10
The service: Perfectly cheery, speedy with the refills, and no pressure to give up your table. Everything you could want in a brunch server. 8.5 out of 10
Overall: For no-fuss brunching, PQM hits the spot. 7.5 out of 10
825 W. Fulton Market, West Loop, 312-445-8977