I’m not going to lie, I’ve majorly slowed down on the brunch front these past few months. Part of my recent decline in activity was driven by my month off from eating out in January, and I’ve continued to try to stay in, eat healthily and not spend so damn much on mimosas and eggs Benedict. (My back-to-back Fridays at Spoon and Stable and Marvel Bar, on the other hand…yikes.)
That said…I can think of few better winter brunch destinations than Hola Arepa. At one point, I think I actually closed my eyes and imagined I was back in Mexico…it was the perfect escapist hour and a half. I met Hannah and her lovely mom there and we had so much fun…it was great to see Hannah, not to mention how delighted I was to get to see so much of what makes Hannah who she is in her mother. Isn’t it funny how we all grew up afraid we’d turn into our moms, and now it seems like the best thing ever?
Like I said, Hola Arepa feels like a little slice of perennial summer. It starts with the bright, poppy turquoise of the exterior and sign, and carries through the inside…the lengthy bar, splashes of color and light, and plethora of green growing things just made me feel like I was hiding out at some very sophisticated beach shack in the Caribbean.
I have to throw in a plug for the patio…I’ve spent MANY a summer afternoon wasting way too many hours out there taste-testing tequila drinks and snacking on small plates. Hannah and I had a five-hour happy hour once (or twice)…and I met up with ND band friends there one evening when I was living in Lakeville and ended up staying out til almost midnight. On a work night. Go me. Go Hola.
Score: 10/10 (for the patio’s sake!)
While I’ve worked my way through Hola’s beverage offerings more comprehensively than I care to admit, I always come back to their creative and innovative daily sangria offerings. I’ve had cucumber-jalapeno white sangria, raspberry-pomegranate, even hibiscus-lime…and they’re always outstanding (if sometimes a little weird). The day we went, they were pouring a blood-orange cranberry sangria that, no lie, made me so insanely happy I debated offering the bartender a non-essential organ for the recipe. Cranberry has been one of my favorite flavors since the college dining hall days, when I’d get cranberry juice and add a splash of Sprite as a dinnertime treat like…daily, and “blood orange” is a buzzword that instantly settles me on whatever dish includes it these days. The combo of the two PLUS red wine and a little spice made me fall in love hard and fast.
Score: 10/10 (also don’t miss their bottled offerings, I love the “Que Pasa Martinez?”.)
I’m a sucker for an eggs Benedict any day, but I kind of burned out on them because, realistically, how much can you change up an English muffin, ham, egg, and hollandaise? Hola proved me wrong in a big way, swapping the muffin for arepas (a griddled cornmeal cake), changing out the ham for chorizo, spicing up the Hollandaise and adding a sweet-and-tangy guava sauce to the whole thing. They top it off with chicharron, a crackly bacon-type deal, and serve it with a side salad. Um, hi. I could have licked my plate clean with very little shame.
To check out Hola Arepa for yourself, head to www.holaarepa.com. Then call me and let me know you’re going so I can arrange a designated driver and work my way through the cocktails with you, mmk?
More brunches here, duh.