It’s hard to believe the light-filled, airy room that currently houses Nana was once a dingy neighborhood bar. If you squint, you could maybe see it, but only if you ignore the recycled-wood tables, the clean white chairs (bought en masse at a thrift store), the brass light fixtures, the French doors thrown open to welcome the sun in, and the general sense of healthy wholesomeness. The organic breakfast/brunch/lunch joint is a recent addition to Bridgeport’s culinary scene, and a welcome one.
The restaurant may have opened less than a month and a half ago, but the family behind it isn’t new to the neighborhood. Brothers Christian and Omar Solis, who run the place along with their mother Maria “Nana” Solis, grew up in the building, and their father JosÃ© owns a taquerÃa just up the street. The Solis brothers seem to have let their creativity run free while making up the menu: in addition to standard American breakfast fare like omelets and skillets and Mexican dishes like chilaquiles and breakfast burritos, there are a few items that may make you look twice, like the Nanadict (eggs Benedict with pupusas, chorizo, and poblano sauce) and the banana-hemp buckwheat pancakes. The waffles also deserve your attention, if for no other reason than the mouth-watering eloquence of the menu’s description. Of the Liege waffle, it says, “Leavened batter with sugar that bursts and caramelizes in the waffle iron. Topped with sliced bananas, fresh whipped cream and chocolate ganache.”
Nana stays open through lunchtime, and it offers more than just breakfast food. Falafel is served burger-style on a toasted bun with a pickle on the side and a choice of three bean salad, wheat berry salad, and home fries. Vegetarian-friendly items like the Veggie Joe (like a sloppy joe, but with Textured Vegetable Protein) and the vegetarian chili are copious, but the hamburgers are no afterthought. Made from house-ground 100-percent grass-fed certified organic beef, they come topped with things like Applewood-smoked bacon, roasted garlic aioli, and crispy fried onion curls. Overall, though, it’s clear that breakfast is Nana’s real strength; the tasty breakfast burritos and decadent Nanadicts are worth a long Saturday-morning trip, while the lunch fare merits a visit only if you’re in the neighborhood anyway.
In addition to a restaurant, Nana doubles as a coffee and juice bar. You can enjoy a cup of hot Metropolis coffee (the best in Chicago, according to the Tribune) or one of their six juices (orange, grapefruit, lemonade, apple, carrot, and beet) alone or in combinations–some of which, like orange-carrot, are a lot better than they sound.
Despite some problems in the first few weeks, business has been booming at Nana’s, and on weekends the wait can last over 45 minutes. “You’d think we were giving food away!” exclaimed our waitress. Reservations are only accepted for parties of six or more, so if it’s just you and a couple friends, make sure to get there before or after the rush.
Nana, 3267 S. Halsted St. Daily, 8am-3pm. (312)929-2486. nanaorganic.com