It’s always nice when someone else makes the plans. When I was in Chicago, I let my friend, Maureen, a bossy, social extrovert make the plans. Maureen makes a great boss—she’s oodles of fun, and every time she takes the reins it’s sure to be a good time. There are very few people I allow make decisions for me—and Maureen is one of them.
She’d been on an Eggs Benedict kick for the last few months and was dying to take us to brunch at the Pump Room at the Public Hotel in Chicago. When I arrived at the Pump Room after a coffee meeting in the hotel’s stunning cafe, I found a group of Maureen’s family and friends and a very disgruntled Maureen.
Unfortunately, and unlike many Washington restaurants, the Pump Room does not serve brunch on holidays, and it was the fourth of July. Petulant and unsatisfied, Maureen refused to dine there, and we began to call across town to locate an open establishment that was still serving Eggs Benedict.
Finally, we decided upon a diner, Nookies, around the corner. When we sat down, we ordered mimosas and were informed that the diner doesn’t serve mimosas. Our faces sunk.
“We’re BYOB and there’s a liquor store around the corner,” the manager informed us. Like a good gentleman, Maureen’s man leapt up and was off in hot pursuit of champagne. There was a pitcher of fresh OJ waiting on the table and two happy faces upon his return. The morning had been saved!
As it was by now midday, we were starved and did not hesitate to place our orders. Plus, we had plans to boat later in the day.
Maureen ordered an epic traditional breakfast sandwich: a buttery, flakey croissant, with a fried egg, cheddar cheese, and bacon. It was served with a healthy helping of hash browns and an orange slice.
Her beau ordered the huevos rancheros, which at Nookie’s consists of two eggs any style, salsa, rice, cheesy beans, and tortillas. It was served in a little skillet that made it difficult for him to eat but he enjoyed it nonetheless.
I ordered a breakfast platter: eggs, bacon, hash browns, and pancakes. I wanted it all. I ordered my eggs fried over-medium, which is exactly how they arrived. The bacon was pretty good. The plate was clean, and the food not overly greasy, for which I was grateful.
The hash browns and pancakes were exactly the style and quality as you’d find in any other diner. I was starving, they tasted pretty good—but not great. We all covered the hash browns in salt and ketchup. I slathered butter and poured syrup all over the pancakes. This is basically exactly what you’d expect if you’d frequented Denny’s, IHOP, or Bob Evan’s as a kid. But the quality is slightly better and it’s a small business so Nookie’s gets extra points.
Nookies is a diner, nothing more, nothing less. The service was attentive and kind—letting me charge my phone and checking in quickly to see if we needed anything at various points during the meal. We stayed for awhile—finishing two bottles of champagne and changing into our swimsuits in the bathroom. All in all, a successful brunch morning saved.
The Bitches say: B. For a diner, Nookie’s is a great spot. It’s a diner, nothing more, nothing less in terms of food. There’s a patio, BYOB mimosas, quick, kind service and predictable diner fare—all of which make it better than a diner.
1746 N Wells St.
Nookies serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and breakfast all week long.