The shtick: Southern-style brunch in the heart of Wicker Park, y’all.
The vibe: Wicker Park’s ode to the lowcountry cuisine of South Carolina and Georgia is housed in what was once a bank, and the dining room is constantly buzzing with activity (as is a pretty great picket-fenced sidewalk patio). The space, all high ceilings and concrete floors, could’ve felt a little overwhelming in the wrong hands, but instead it’s warm and welcoming—if a little on the noisy side. 7 out of 10
The food: The menu reads like a greatest-hits album of Southern cuisine: cornbread and deviled eggs, barbecued pork and fried green tomatoes. There are a few takes on the brunchtime basics; the surprisingly restrained French toast ($11)—just a few rosettes of whipped cream, a drizzle of raspberry puree, and a handful of berries for good measure, practically virtuous by French toast standards—was totally fine, if a little boring. But you should go for decadence here, ideally in the form of the chicken and biscuit ($14), with crisp-skinned fried chicken, a fluffy biscuit, pimento, and sausage gravy. And hey, just go ahead and order the hearty cheesy grits ($5) to go alongside it. Live a little. 7 out of 10
The drinks: First off, a huge credit to Carriage House for serving Cheerwine ($4), that hard-to-find-up-here-but-still-amazing cherry soft drink that’s so beloved down South. Non-imbibers, this is your order. Should you require alcohol, the Southern screwdriver ($11) takes an occasionally snoozy staple and punches it up with sunny orange-papaya juice and a mellow tahini rim on the glass. 7 out of 10
The service: Every server and staffer we interacted with had a permagrin all morning long, joking around with regulars and swinging by for friendly check-ins throughout the meal. Our food came out in a flash, too. 8 out of 10
Overall: Carriage House’s Carolina charm makes it worthy of a mid-day visit. 7.5 out of 10