CHICAGO - Avocado toast is one of the biggest breakfast trends from the past few years. In Chicago, there are several places with exceptional versions including Real Good Juice Co. and Mortar & Pestle.
Healthier eating and drinking is the mantra at Real Good Juice Co., which has kiosks in all of the local Whole Foods stores, as well as a few stand-alone stores, like this one in Lakeview, where they offer a small menu to boot. Their avocado toast is hard to pass up.
They begin with thick toasted bread from Floriole bakery, topping it with some homemade almond cheese, made from the bits resulting from their house-made almond milk. Garlic and olive oil give it some complexity. Then organic avocados are scooped out into a bowl, seasoned only with olive oil, fresh lime juice and sea salt. Mashed by hand until chunky, two scoops are spread generously over the top of the almond cheese; a few pickled carrots add crunch, and just a pinch of sea salt and chili flakes balance the richness; you could add a hard-boiled egg if you like.
Over on Broadway, just south of Belmont, Mortar & Pestle isn't your average breakfast joint. Stephen Ross has a fine-dining background, which results in creative dishes.
"It definitely is a trendy thing, but trying to take that, make it simplistic, just nice, bright flavors. Lemon juice, Aleppo pepper, cumin, chives, olive oil," said Ross.
Beginning with country-style sourdough he toasts-up on the griddle, Ross seasons his fresh, slightly-mashed avocados with lime juice and salt. He'll then cut the toast into thirds, top it with the seasoned avocado, then add the crushed Aleppo pepper, some fresh chives, and finally, ground cumin.
"A nice little earthiness and just gives a little bit of heat without being overpowering and just nice olive oil for a little bit of richness and flavor," he said.
Now the price of avocados fluctuates, as does the quality. So Steven says he buys a lot of avocados at once to make sure he's got enough quantity to insure consistency, hoping never to take them off the menu.
EXTRA COURSE: ABC7 food reporter Steve Dolinsky talks a breakfast item at Mortar & Pestle with a decidedly more luxurious approach.
REAL GOOD JUICE CO.
Extra Course: Mortar and Pestle
3548 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
1647 N. Wells St., Chicago
Coming Soon: 1616 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
Also located in all Whole Foods Stores
MORTAR & PESTLE
3108 N. Broadway, Chicago