My adult friendships hinge on the promise that one day, we really will get together and catch up. My friend from college, Maggie, and I had been trying to get together for months and finally got a chance to brunch and catch up– celebrating both our birthdays and more importantly, her grad school graduation (congrats, Mags!).
We decided on Avli, a quaint Greek tavern in Lincoln Park. The dining room is full of natural light and feels airy. On the wall, they have an explainer about their core Greek philosophies philoxenia, kefi, and meraki, which translate to hospitality, joy, and soul. While the dining room was gorgeous, what caught our attention was the spacious patio outside. We sat under the light-strung pergola and enjoyed the warm summer day.
The drink selection at Avli offers a deviation from the usual Bloody Mary. Maggie got a “village cooler,” a gin-based cocktail with mint and cucumber. It is a tasty, refreshing drink that will help you cool down on a hot day. I got the mastica lemonade. It was frozen and more sweet than sour. It was tasty and hard not to slurp down. Sitting on a warm patio, you want one of these in hand.
Everything on the menu looked good, so we decided to share small plates. We started with tomato fritters. I was expecting a variation of fried green tomatoes, but instead these pan-fried cakes combine cheese, tomatoes, and herbs and come with a yogurt-dill sauce for dipping. They were larger than expected, and great for sharing. The yogurt-dill sauce was delicious, and though a little garlicky for the first meal of the day.
Up next was the tzatziki with pita. The pita came out warm, a great juxtaposition to the cool tzatziki. Honestly this whole experience taught me that when it’s mind-meltingly hot, order Greek food. The tzatziki had a lot of garlic, but I was a big fan and could not stop piling it sky-high on my pita.
We ordered a saganaki to split. The cheese melt was reminiscent of a sweet grilled cheese and came topped with peppered figs and honey.
We ended with the tsoureki French toast. The bread was similar to brioche and came in nice thick pieces. If you’re not splitting side plates, this is a hearty serving for one person. It came with a side of fresh fruit – mostly melons – and was drizzled in Greek honey. It was a little sweet for my taste. I do not usually opt for sweet dishes, but Maggie thoroughly enjoyed it.
It was a tasty brunch, and I’m very interested in returning for a light dinner and drinks to enjoy the patio at night.
The Bitches say: 3 Champagne flutes
Take a long brunch and reconnect with your friends on the patio over shared plates. This Greek tavern offers a fresh brunch perfect for the whole family – whether you like sweet or savory dishes.
Avli serves brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.