Dear Saturday brunch at The Southern,

Short rib hash from The Southern. Pick the best pieces from every meal and you have this glorious concoction. Photo/Dear Food

Short rib hash from The Southern. Pick the best pieces from every meal and you have this glorious concoction. Photo/Dear Food

Brunch is my favorite activity. I have a developed skill set for brunching on the weekends. I’ve seen it all, I expect it all. But nothing could have prepared me for this.

Many Chicagoans know about you, The Southern. Nestled in the hip and trendy Bucktown, you do all the food things that food people love to see: Fresh and local ingredients, high-quality craft brews and cocktails. You combine the best of southern living with a big city twist. So, I was ready for the wait. I was ready for the one-page brunch menu (because why not make a few things really well instead of 100 things mediocre?), but I was not ready to want every single item on that one-page menu.

Dear Summer House,

For someone who loves to eat at restaurants, this was my first experience with Chicago Restaurant Week (which is two weeks but whatever, I like that).

Summer House has a location in Santa Monica, and despite the wintery, icy cold weather outside, the restaurant maintains its breezy West Coast vibe. And the food was just as breezy and light. The restaurant week menu had some specialties that aren’t on the regular menu, like my entree: baja shrimp tacos.

The shrimp, so crispy and perfectly spiced. The salsa and guacamole, so fresh. The bright sprig of cilantro and hearty rice and beans, so perfect. I cleaned that plate like it was my job. And the best part was that I wasn’t too full or weighed down (because, hi dessert).

The chocolate cake came with like, seven layers and lighter-than-a-cloud whipped cream. As if it couldn’t get any better, it has a teeny piece of peanut butter fudge and sea salt sprinkled on top. As someone who can each chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this cake was so rich and satisfying that I had to take half of it home.

Oh and do you see the little guest dessert in the background there? Summer House has a small market right up front, so if you just want to stop in for a GIANT, amazing cookie (or Dark Matter Coffee, an Oreo Rice Krispie treat, or fresh English muffins), you can. Let’s just say, I’m glad I don’t live any closer to this restaurant than I do, because they would be out of cookies every day. Because I’d buy them all.

Summer House, there may be 135 days left until summer, but a delicious meal like this is like a shot of friggin’ sunshine.


Dear Wafel,

About a month ago, I wandered in to your shop. I saw you on a stroll through the West Loop and wondered, ‘Hm, waffles?’ But you’re so much more than just mere waffles. You’re breakfast, all day. You’re lunch, with chicken sandwiches but instead of bread—you guessed it—it’s a waffle!

And all the coffee. I mean, serious coffee.

I don’t always like waffles for breakfast. But when you combine such delicious food options, how can one not fall in love?

Wafel, please stay.


Dear Chicago,

It’s been a long time. We’ve made this long-distance relationship work the best we could, but I can’t stay away from you any longer. It’s time we were reunited.

What does this mean for Dear Food? Well, I think it means more: more Instagrams, more recipes, more adventures and most importantly, more love letters!

Don’t worry, my friend. Things are changing but this change is exceptionally good (I don’t know if you heard, but the James Beard Awards are following me to you, also. Trendsetter!).

So between now and then, it may mean some more downtime between love letters. But I’m hoping for a vibrant and active summer filled with love-filled confessions to food, drink and life!

See you soon!


Image courtesy of AdventureCaravans