1039 N Western Ave
Neighborhood: West Town/Ukrainian Village
Rating: 4 Flutes
Bite is so hipster, that I think it gets me out of the Basic Bitch Brunch category. Or does that make it worse? Either way, it's so fetch. (I watched Mean Girls the other night.) While it might technically be in Ukrainian Village, my shock collar didn't go off when I crossed the border, so we are all safe. It's a BYOB establishment with zero corkage fee, which is great. But if you are hungover and forget your vice, fear not. You can still achieve that shampoo-effect by grabbing a Bloody Mary from the attached bar/concert venue under the same ownership, The Empty Bottle. Bite is small, but we rarely have to wait on a Saturday or Sunday for brunch, and we have never had to wait for dinner. Normally I would be a bit skeptical because of this, but I think this one might just be under the radar still. An additional point for Bite. They have a normal menu plus additional specials written on a chalkboard. I like the element of surprise there, but again, my risk-averse tendencies would like to know exactly what I'm working with before I arrive. (Sometimes they post the specials on their Facebook or Twitterpages.) The specials usually consist of a sweet pastry, a soup, a tofu scramble, an omelet, and a couple extra surprises. On top of those options, they have daily dinner specials every night besides Saturday. For example, Monday is taco night (always a good idea here) and Wednesday is chicken and waffles (if you're into that sort of thing).
I have eaten a plethora of their menu items, even some of the vegetarian varieties. You can order their breakfast tacos à la carte and they're super tasty. Sometimes we just get one as a side-car because we can. The corn tortillas are thrown on the griddle and have a nice char on them. They are pretty simple: scrambled eggs, pepper-jack cheese, black beans, radish, pico de gallo and a little cup of guacamole. Throw on some Crystal hot sauce and you're fully-mission-capable. The pimento cheese eggs Benedict is obviously perfect. It starts out normal with an open-faced toasted english muffin and then shit gets real. Sliced marinated tomatoes sit atop a thick smear of pimento cheese and are topped with arugula, poached eggs and peppery hollandaise sauce. The tomatoes are soaked in some sort of vinegar and they give the dish the perfect amount of acid to balance out all that rich, saucy goodness. The Benedict comes with a mashbrown. "What's a mashbrown?" you say? It's what dreams are made of. Essentially it's a patty of hash browns perfectly fried in a disk, but the inside has an almost whipped texture to it. Not a full-on mashed potato whip, but sort of a mixture of mashed and hashed. You see what I'm saying here? Dreams.
John frequently orders the bibimbap which is a nice lighter option (annoying). It's bright and you can spice it up with the sesame chili sauce they serve with the dish. Bibimbap is a a fun word, yes, but it's also a traditional Korean dish that literally means "mixed rice." Bite's adaptation is wild rice with zucchini, shaved brussels sprouts and mushrooms with a curry vinaigrette and a sunny egg. It's not what I would normally lust after for brunch, but it has great flavor and John likes it, so it's occasionally allowed.
They have a ton of other good options for breakfast or lunch. The grilled cheese with tomato fennel soup is bomb. The GC has three cheeses (cheddar + gruyere + provolone), so it's an obvious stunner. The tomato soup is perfect for dunking and somehow stays steaming hot through the whole meal. If you're a club rat, try the turkey. It's a twist on a classic club with thick-cut turkey with cream cheese, onion jam, bacon and arugula. Delish. The hangover salad (similar to a Lyonnaise) and the pork hash are great options to consider as well.
Bite is a great choice for weekend (or weekday) brunch with little-to-no wait. The service is quick and sometimes friendly, and the prices are great. Bring in your own drinks or just enjoy the bottomless Dark Matter coffee made just for Bite. Tell them I sent you, but they will have no idea what or who you are talking about.