Summer House Santa Monica

This morning was one of those mornings where I woke up and all I wanted was some good company and pancakes with a side of benedicts. Something I have learned is that you have to pick your brunch buddies carefully. The sweet-savory dilemma is real and comes out in full force at brunch. Lucky for me, the brunch stars were in alignment this morning at Summer House Santa Monica.

The Place: Summer House Santa Monica; 1954 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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Summer House is such a great spot. They have awesome, creative and sunny drinks to make you forget that your flight to New York was canceled and you probably commented on how warm it was in Chicago today when you stepped out and it was 35 and sunny.

The menu is California-inspired American, which actually means for brunch there is a ton of kale on the menu. This is good for all those eggwhite-no-bread-extra-celery friends we all have to invite to brunch sometimes. I chose no kale since there was lemon in the pancakes. Also, punch and mimosas are mostly fruit I think.

The lemon cottage cheese pancakes are light, moist and not too sweet. There is syrup and a lemon curd on the side to sweeten the deal if that is your style. Next time I go, I want to try the orange chocolate chip pancakes.

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Some of their benedicts come on hash browns. It’s genius. Hash browns and bacon are basically brunch essentials. Sometimes the drawback of the benedict is that they tend not to come with those things. At Summer House you can have your hollandaise served up on your hash browns. The smoked salmon hash brown benedict really hit the spot.

Some things to consider: This place always has a wait. I tried to make a reservation on a Monday for Sunday brunch and my options were 9:30am or 2:00pm. When my friend showed up at 11:00am on Sunday, the wait was 1.5 hours. That being said, we were able to sit and eat at the bar right away. They have the full menu, so a good option for 2 people trying to brunch at brunch time. This is also an awesome spot for a happy hour! I will definitely be going back soon.

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Toast Two

Yes, there are lots of great places to brunch in Chicago. And yes, everyone has his/her neighborhood favorites. But, if you like to try new things, this is one spot to add to your to-brunch list. If you like to stick to your spot and not branch out, people probably think you are boring…Take a little trip to Bucktown and check this place out!

The place: Toast Two; 2046 N Damen Ave Chicago, IL

Pancake Orgy
Pancake Orgy

Local brunch spots all have their benedicts, pancakes and stuffed french toast. But Toast Two sets itself apart on all fronts.  Toast doesn’t just have your standard chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes. They have a pancake orgy -one blueberry, one banana pecan and one lemon poppyseed topped with vanilla yogurt and homemade granola. If that isn’t enough to get you going, the whole thing is drizzled with honey. It was so good! We got one for the table to share -by that I mean my friend and I just split it in addition to our benedicts. They also have a Stuffed French Toast Orgy. Next time, I want to try the regular Stuffed French Toast. Not that there is anything regular about it. You get one of each -strawberry mascarpone and mexican chocolate. They make it so easy for you to try a few different things in one dish!

Next, get ready for truffle hollandaise topping the benedicts. It really takes a great benedict to the next level. It was amazing on the Crabby Benedict. I hear it was also great on the Tenderloin Benedict. I can only assume their scrambles and omelets are also out of this world, but I will definitely be back to test that hypothesis.

Crabby Benedict
Crabby Benedict

Some things to consider: They are BYOB! So bring your favorite bloody mary alcohol and you can add it to their bloody mary mix. There is FREE street parking! For real. I didn’t think it existed in Chicago anymore. I searched and searched for a paybox before the thought of free parking even crossed my mind. This place is popular. By 11:30/noon it was full on a Thursday! I can imagine there is a wait on the weekends. But it would be so worth the wait! Toast also has a Lincoln Park location for those of you in that direction!

For more information: http://www.toast-chicago.com/index.html

Expand your brunch horizons!