October 22, 2011 : Andrew Lai

October 22, 2011 : Andrew Lai

I love crisp sunny fall mornings almost as much as snowfall, so it's unsurprising that I wake up today in a spectacular mood. I proceed to ponder on what I consider the prime philosophical problem of weekend mornings: where to eat? Don't laugh. Unlike almost everyone else I know, I eat breakfast every single weekday, and brunch is like Breakfast Extraordinaire.

My first consideration is whether I want traditional Chinese-style food: fried crullers, leek dumplings, roasted beef flatbread, washed down with sweet soy milk. A southern California native, I have exacting standards for this type of food, and there is really only one place in Chicagoland I consider satisfactory. Unfortunately, it's in the suburbs -- Westmont, to be exact -- and my carless self doesn't feel like splurging on a Zipcar today.

Closer to home, the city is full of self-referential brunch places: Jam, Toast, Yolk, Orange, Milk and Honey, Bakin' & Eggs, Brunch (really) -- you get the idea. So having sadly discarded the thought of crullers and soy milk, I turn my thoughts to Western-style fare and consider Chicago's selection of helpfully- and obviously-named brunch joints. I don't feel like hopping on the train, so places in my (wonderful) neighborhood (Bucktown) it is.

I finally settle on Toast Too and then am faced with a secondary question: do I get carry-out, or eat there by myself? I'm generally fairly self-conscious about eating out by myself. But it's so nice this morning, and I have a good book to read, that I decide: the hell with it, I'm off.
I order the pesto scramble with sourdough and, like a little kid, ask for a glass of milk. (I still think coffee tastes disgusting.) When the food comes, I dig in -- it's excellent, as always. Score one for brunch today! What's even better, though, is when I notice there are other fellow Chicagoans munching placidly, solo, at the bar. Maybe I'm not so strange after all.

I finish up, pay the bill, satisfied, full and happy. Philosophical Problem 101 of the day has been solved, I'm slightly less inhibited about eating alone, and I'm ready to enjoy another beautiful fall day in Chicago.

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About the author: Andrew (@andrewblai) works in market research and expounds on his passion for cities and urbanism at acityguy.wordpress.com. He loves snow.

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