May 18, 2012 at 8:45 AM ET
“Brunch caters to everybody’s needs,” says chef Jeffrey Mauro of Chicago breakfast specialist Jam. Originally just open in the mornings, Mauro’s restaurant found so much success with brunch crowds that it recently moved to a new, bigger space and expanded into dinner.
The brunch expert has firm beliefs when it comes to what makes a great mid-morning menu: a smoked salmon dish, a breakfast sandwich and a variation on eggs Benedict; Jam changes theirs monthly using seasonal vegetables like the version with English muffins, poached eggs, pork belly and beet hollandaise.
Mauro considers his city’s brunch obsession a long time coming: “I thought for sure our business would get hit with this explosion of brunch restaurants, but we haven’t been affected. It just keeps getting better.”
While Chicago’s brunch scene is taking off, New York still rules when it comes to brunch-crazed populations. Immortalized by Carrie and friends in "Sex and the City," brunch in New York often requires patience. Cult favorites like Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune and Clinton Street Baking Co. doesn’t take reservations, and diners loiter on the sidewalk for hours waiting for a table.
Washington, D.C., may be the next place to get swept up in the obsession. Local restaurants have recently introduced gimmicks such as Virtue Grain and Feed’s monthly pajama brunch party and The Passenger’s late-riser brunch, which doesn’t start until 2 p.m. and goes well into the evening.
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