5 Food Spots I Can’t Wait to Visit This Summer

Now that the sun is shining and the weather is balmy, it’s about time I plan our summer in the city!

Any chance to get outside for some alfresco dining is a must. Whether it’s eating at a vendor’s booth or in a romantic courtyard, I’m in.

Here is a list just five of the oldies (and some new spots, too!) that I can’t wait to visit:

Now the question is: who is going to join us?!?

Summer House Santa Monica

I think I’m in the “nesting phase” of pregnancy–30 weeks!–because being a homebody just sounds so good all of the time. (Not so good for the blog, though!) However, getting together for brunch with my childhood girlfriends is always a great time, so we made plans to visit Summer House Santa Monica in Lincoln Park.

I’ve been wanting to come here for awhile. When I drive past it’s always busy, and I wanted to know what all the business is about! The brunch menu looked amazing, and when Lauren made the reservation, I was pumped.

Tip 1: Go on Sunday morning at 9 am. It’s not crazy busy, and its (dare I say!) easy to park on Halsted. You don’t need to pay the meters, either. Bonus!

Right when you walk in, there’s a dessert case you can order from and eat at your table or take to go. The Cap’n Crunch treats (like Rice Krispie treats) had me at hello.

The restaurant is gorgeous, one of those restaurants you want to live in with California cool style: bright, white, open, and light. 

We arrived on time and sat down right away in a nice booth near the kitchen in the atrium area of the restaurant. Close to all of the action, right? Well, yes, but it also got really warm. Like, take my jean jacket off, chug-water-not-coffee hot. So Tip 2: Dress appropriately or don’t sit in this dining section. (When I got up to go to the restroom, it wasn’t nearly as hot there.)

Our waitress was the identical twin of Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) from Dawson’s Creek. She was kind, but the service in general was a little…different. They ran out of cream containers, so they brought it to the table in condiment containers (read: lots of spills and fingers by the liquid). The coffee and water refills weren’t as often as I would have liked. We didn’t have flatware for awhile, and our plates weren’t cleared quickly. Which leads me to Tip 3: Be patient. It’s busy, and I think the food is worth it.

We started with a French Toast entree as our appetizer. It came with a generous dollop of whip cream and syrup. With four slices for four gals, this was the perfect start to our meal. Tip 4: Please, order this French Toast! Crisp on the edges but soft and buttery inside, the toast melted in my mouth. Try it and you won’t be disappointed!

For my entree, I could not decide so I thought quickly and got my usual scrambled eggs/hash browns/toast combo. Instead of breakfast meat, I subbed avocado, which I generously received half of an avocado! Tip 5: Eat scrambled eggs with avocado. Have you ever tasted this combo? What have I been missing? Smooth and creamy deliciousness. And I like to think I’m being semi-healthy, too. (Healthy fats, right?) The thick toast was nice with the butter/cream cheese (I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was tasty), and the jam looked outstanding, too. Two of the girls brought leftovers home, so keep in mind the portions are a good size. (Preggers here ate everything, no problem.)

Would I go back? Definitely, but I wouldn’t sit near the kitchen. Too hot. There are so many other menu items I want to try, it would be a shame not to return. Not to mention, Lauren gave me a heads up that Summer House is a great place to brunch with kids earlier in the morning. Maybe I can have it all! 

Summer House Santa Monica
1954 North Halsted
Lincoln Park

   
     

February Is Chicago’s North Shore Restaurant Month

Now that the secret’s out, this mama wants to talk about…what else…food!

Did you know that Chicago’s North Shore suburbs doesn’t just have Restaurant Week, it has Restaurant Month.

Now, I lived in Glenview for five years after college/before the Second City. (Nate was going to law school in Milwaukee, I was working in Lincolnshire…) I very much loved my time living there, and my parents are still there, so we visit quite Glenview and the surrounding burbs often.

So, in addition to sharing these awesome Restaurant Month deals (just print these certificates and bring them with you!), I also wanted to share some of my recommendations:

Bravo! Cucina Italiana in Glenview: Very family friendly, good for groups!

Corner Bakery Cafe in Skokie: If you’re brave enough to shop Old Orchard in this cold weather, warm up with a cup of soup or enjoy a salad (my favorite is the Asian Wonton Salad) here.

Farmhouse Evanston: I’ve been to the Chicago and Evanston locations for brunch and dinner and loved both. The farm-to-table concept is dear to my heart, and I love to support restaurants like Farmhouse. Haven’t had a bad meal yet!

Flat Top Grill in Evanston: The first location of the chain that I ever went to, and I love the make-your-own soup/salad/stir fry/etc. concept here. And have you tried the naan? It’s pretty delicious! Extra points for being very lactose intolerant/vegetarian/vegan friendly.

Francesca’s North in Nortbrook: This Italian restaurant is exceptional for any occasion, from private parties to date night. The food is outstanding–should not be missed!

Maggiano’s in Skokie: Part of the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant Group, Maggiano’s has something for everyone. I’ve been to many of the chain’s locations for wedding rehearsal dinners, baby showers, or just a night out. The food is consistently great, and I enjoy the family-style service that creates a more homey vibe.

Pizano’s in Glenview: I remember when “Oprah’s Favorite Pizza” opened in the burbs. I’ve been a few times, and it’s pretty good! This restaurant is always busy, and kid-friendly, too.

Superdawg Drive-In in Wheeling: Now, I must say, it’s not the original location, but the Superdawg and fries doesn’t disappoint no matter where you go. I’m also LOVING their hamburgers…I mean Superburger!

Tuscany in Wheeling: My sister’s wedding shower was here. I’ve been here for Mother’s Day…and Valentine’s Day. The roasted garlic appetizer that’s brought to your table when you sit down is amazing. The minestrone is great. The pastas are delicious. I haven’t been in awhile–more reason to go back!

Where I want to go:

Burger Fi in Glenview: I’ve heard good things from both family and friends. Add it to my must-try list!

Pinstripes in Northbrook: If I told you how close this bowling and bocci restaurant was to my parents’, you, too, would wonder why I’ve never been here yet! Who wants to go for a bowling game and stay for food?

Roka Akor in Skokie: This hot spot opened at Old Orchard not too long ago, and I know my parents are loving it. I know there’s one downtown, but nice to have an option by them, too, for when we visit for dinner.

There’s not much time! Hope you take advantage of Restaurant Month–I know I will!