Category Archives: Brunch

Mercadito Brunch

This past weekend, I unintentionally had a Saturday Funday with my girlfriends which inevitability began with brunch at Mercadito. We had heard that it was supposed kind if insane with a DJ, but when we walked in, it was as calm and pretty empty as the other times I had eaten brunch there. But of course, we all ordered mimosas and/or margaritas with one deviant insisting on tequila shots (we all gracefully declined with a “hell no”) and so we had quite a good time sans DJ anyway.

Mercadito Brunch is a lot like Mercadito dins. You can order the same tacos, and start with the same trio of Guacamole. I would say there was about 11 of us, and we all ordered the same two dishes: either the shrimp tacos, or the egg tacos. They come in groups of four, so those of us who wanted slight variety traded one or two shrimp tacos for the egg, and vice-versa. I’ve raved all about the shrimp tacos in my Mercadito dinner post, so I’ll just comment on their egg tacos. With black beans, eggs, salsa, avocado, queso, and pico de gallo they are stacked with deliciousness. Honestly, nothing at Mercadito can be horrible.

I sampled their Mango Mimosa which was a little too pulpy for my liking, but all around sweet and flavorful. But their best drink by far for brunch is their Mango Margarita; it’s sweet and salty, with just the right amount of heat. Excellent, food, drink, and friends proved to be the start of a truly stellar day. 4 out of 5 spoons.

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Toast

Nothing is more frustrating to an avid restaurant goer than repeatedly calling a restaurant to find no reservations available, or anything over a 30 minute wait. Such has been my luck with Toast. Reservations? Doesn’t take them. Late morning eats? Be prepared to wait my friends. So one ambitious Sunday morning, my two friends and I dragged ourselves out of bed to finally try Toast at a decent time. And by Jove, it was worth it.

We arrived around 10ish in the morning (which for us, is pretty noteworthy), and of course there was already a crowd of people milling around outside waiting to be sat. We were told twenty minutes. I’d say we ended up waiting 35 (it was readily apparent that small parties of two were favored).

Anyway, sat we did eventually, and of course I immediately zoned in on the breakfast menu, torn between the Tijuana omelet and the smoked salmon omelet. Of course, my Hispanic brethren won. I was kind of surprised it didn’t come with chorizo, but it definitely didn’t need any. With jalapenos, onion, tomato, chihuahua cheese, and just a hint of cilantro, this omelet was uber flavorful. Honestly, I would say the freshness of the ingredients are on par with that of Meli, my favorite breakfast spot in Chicago.

My friend Jamie ordered the Pesto scrambled eggs with tomato, prosciutto, Gruyere, and of course pesto. We ended switching take home boxes, and I was completely happy with that. The pesto didn’t overwhelm the dish at all, and it had the perfect cheesiness I’ve come love in Italian dishes.

After my experience at Toast, it comes as an EXTREMELY close second to Meli, and his pretty far ahead of Lula, my now third favorite breakfast joint.

If it weren’t for the effing lines, I’d go extremely often. It’s actually worse than Meli! Lucky for me, I’m not picky, and a solid McDonald’s McMuffin always does the trick when I just can’t wait…

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Paramount Room

Nothing beats the effects of a night out during summertime Chi than a good brunch and a great bloody. Though I am rarely one of those people that get bloodies (to me, it’s like eating a meal), I had to admit, my friend’s at the Paramount Room looked amazing. I mean, look at that picture. I am honestly of the belief, that the more crap you put in a bloody mary, the better it tastes. My friend Lauren and I were both starving after a big night out, and I was strangely craving a burger instead of my usual hankering for eggs. I suggested we go to Paramount Room, as it was close, and I knew they had a great Kobe Burger.

Bloody at Paramount Room

At noon on a Saturday, this place is pretty empty. The downstairs was closed at that time, which was a shame, as the downstairs is not only spacious, but offers flat screen TVs, and I was therefore unable to watch the World Cup (Viva Espana!) According to my boss, another self-proclaimed foodie, the downstairs also offers a killer space for any corporate function. I couldn’t help but notice the Wiis attached to the flat screens as well. Fun indeed.

So of course, I ordered their Kobe Burger with cheddar cheese and lettuce and onion, and of course fries on the side. (Major error… I assumed that fries would automatically be on the side of the burger. Not so.) I consequently had to order the fries after my burger arrived. The fries were a necessary wait, as they come heavily spiced, and with a great side sauce.

The Kobe Burger is large. No other way to describe it. I almost got lock-jaw biting into it. But its tasty, and that’s all that matters. If you want to try something that’s kind one of Chicago’s hidden hole-in-the-wall gems, I’d go to Paramount Room. It’s chill, the staff is friendly, and the food is solid.

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Twisted Spoke

Fried Egg Sandwich

I  like places with character. Places that speak their own voice, and offer me something I can’t find anywhere else.  With brick walls, and a gray steel tables and chairs, Twisted Spoke is clean, but gritty. Signs such as “Piss This Way” adorn the walls, and their menu is full of witty and inappropriate innuendos, or lack thereof (e.g. their “Hangover Breakfast” menu).

I’ve been here three times, (this past weekend being my third), and every time I exclaim “We have to come here on Saturday at 3am for Smut and Eggs!” Yes dear friends, this bar turned family brunch spot on Sundays shows porn with food in the wee hours of the weekend mornings. Now that’s something you can’t find anywhere else.

The food is great too. They make an above average Bloody Mary that’s spicy and comes with sausage and olives, and a shot of beer on the side. For me, the more crap there is in a Bloody Mary, the better. On my most recent brunch visit, I ordered the buffalo chicken sandwich, which they make with their signature wing sauce. Tangy, spicy, and HUGE, I wolfed that thing down with some yummy fries on the side, and washed it down with my Bloody.

If you’re more in the breakfast mood, I’d highly recommend the Mex Scramble which I had the last time I was there and was delicious. It’s made with eggs, chorizo, onions, cilantro, and cheese. My friend Lauren (who’s Dad incidentally frequented this place in his youth) got the Fried Egg Sandwich, which looked delightful (see above picture), albeit larger than her head. Three eggs, cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion on the largest piece of rye bread I’ve ever seen make up this concoction, and I may have to get it the next time I’m there. My fellow foodie friend (brush off my shoulders for some solid alliteration there) Nick ordered the corned beef hash with poached eggs, which I have also heard, is another favorite at this joint. My fourth friend had a burger, and though I didn’t try it,  it was gone from his plate within minutes, so I think it’s safe to say that it was pretty good as well.

I WILL be at Twisted Spoke for Smut and Eggs before I die. I’ll blog about it when I do. Until then, I know I’ll be back for their “hangover brunch.” I mean come on, with a title like that, ‘nough said…

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Urth Caffe – Los Angeles

Okay, I was lazy, and didn’t take notes of the places I went to in LA (before you give me grief, though, I was on vacation). So, I am working to describe Urth, a breakfast place I went to on my trip, from memory. You’re going to have to bear with me if I am lacking in the details, not to mention it’s also extremely unhelpful that Urth does not have its menu on-line. Anywho, Urth is an all-organic breakfast and lunch place that has several locations in LA, and we went to the Beverly Hills spot, as our gracious hostess, Jess, lives in that ‘hood. The spot is cute, and crowded, and while unfortunate that it was pouring rain at the time, people were actually still sitting outside (under umbrellas of course), which was admirable.

As an avid lover of food, and a pretty non-healthy person, I never really gave much thought to the benefits of organic food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Whole Foods, and have recently been trying to eat better, but if nothing else, Urth opened my eyes to the difference in taste organic food has over processed. I don’t know if it’s because that Urth is in California, or if Urth has some special farm connection, but Urth had amazing flavors. At first, I was not impressed with its selection of omelets (I, true to form, of course ordered the Mexican omelet) and was apprehensive with the lack of meat in the thing. However, my plate arrived with three eggs with chiles, onions, jack cheese, and tomatoes with mixed greens and bread on the side.

I wish I could begin to describe the freshness of the flavors. There really are no words. The food itself didn’t need seasoning, because the flavors of every component to the dish were so naturally strong, and in a good way. Though the dishes themselves were not the most original in the world, the taste of the food more than made up for it. It really is too bad we can’t get the likes of Urth’s flavors way out here in Chicago.

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Orange

Huevos Rancheros at Orange... I really need to stop using my camera phone

There were three aspects worth mentioning of my trip to Orange for breakfast this past Saturday, and only three. The first, our party of four didn’t have to wait like the otha suckas in twos. The second, they had trivial pursuit at each table. Truly excellent. The third, the ambiance… I’m not just talking about the food, but the presentation of the place itself. With orange walls (of course), and rolling chairs, and a pretty small space, the atmosphere is what I call charming. A good pick me up for the likes of my crew, who had shall we say, a late night, but pleasant for the familial group as well.

Other than the big three, Orange sadly foreshadowed my trip to Il Mulino later that evening. I was initially quite excited that they served fresh-squeezed juices a-la Meli, but when I took my first gulp of apple juice, I felt like I was drinking a sour-patch kid before it turns “nice.” Way too tart for a drink. I tried my friend Lauren’s combo of orange juice, mango, and something else and that was fine. I guess just stay away from straight apple. After my fresh juice fiasco, I was ready to house some Huevos Rancheros, even though I had my reservations when I saw they had no chorizo to add in. Dios Mio! My eggs were scrambled, with no salt as far as I could tell (wheres my Adobo when I need it?), and the green salsa was okay, but I’m the kind of Rican who needs some kick in my comida. Eggs, salsa, and lack of chorizo aside, the potatoes were solid.

I’d go again, but only to play Trivial Pursuit.

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