A little over a year ago, Chicago began weekly brunch reviews, sending a two-woman review team out to canvas the city for the best in weekend-morning eats and drinks. We uncovered some seriously tasty gems along the way—perfectly runny eggs, blistering Bloody Marys, and more avocado toast than you could shake a pit at. These are our twelve favorite things from a year (plus a few weeks) in brunching:

Brioche sticky bun at A10

Matthias Merges's Hyde Park eatery was the site of our first review. A year later, we're still talking about this dense-yet-airy confection coated in a warm, gooey glaze. 

Super grain bowl at the Allis

When something that’s nutritionally virtuous tastes this good, we must offer props.

Sweet potato and rice flour pancakes at Big Jones

Perfectly spiced and light years more sophisticated than those sugar bombs down the street at Bongo Room. 

Baked French toast at Bottlefork

​This whole meal was one of the most memorable of the year, and this was the highlight among highlights: chunks of brioche coated in housemade caramel and cooked into a sugary hulk in a cast-iron skillet.

Smoked brisket hash at Dove's Luncheonette

Tender chunks of meat + crisp potatoes + a blanket of fried eggs = everything you could want from your morning meal.

Belinha at Fat Rice

Instead of a sugar rush, the Macanese spot went refreshingly dry and herbaceous on their take on the basic Bellini.

Bajio-style eggs at Frontera Grill

Doused in cilantro-chile sauce and topped with chorizo, this is a poached egg living its best life.

Avocado toast at Johnny's Grill

In a very avocado-toasty year, this multitextured take made the best impression.

Cornbread French toast at Lula Cafe

Between forkfuls, we marveled at how cornbread in French toast form somehow managed to be light.

Bloody Mary at Rootstock

As good as it gets: thick, spicy, multi-dimensional, and garnished with a duo of cured meats, a cheddar curd, and various pickles.

Piggie by the Pound at Son of a Butcher Tavern

At $11, it may just be the best brunch deal in the city. Pro tip: Order an over-medium egg on the side to make this a tad more brunch appropriate.

Waffles at the Winchester

The addictive, crisp Liège-style beauts sing best as the base for an eggs Benedict.