Summer House Santa Monica is the sister restaurant to Stella Barra, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. The restaurants are connected in the middle by a sweets stand, but they couldn’t be any more different. Stella Barra is the cooler older brother with it’s black walls, exposed brick, and leather couches. Summer House is the California beach babe little sister with white walls, a glass ceiling, and barstools that mimic lifeguard stands. Stella Barra focuses on pizza, while Summer House’s menu is California inspired.
Summer House had been on my Chicago restaurant bucket list since it opened, and I was finally inspired to visit when a gluten-free friend from high school was visiting. All of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurants have separate gluten-free menus, so her visit created the perfect excuse to visit Summer House.
Our meal began with the Ahi Tuna Tostadas which the restaurant generously sent out for us to try. I was surprised by how much I liked this appetizer. The restaurant’s manager explained that this is the most ordered item on the menu, and I can see why. Fresh ahi tuna and watermelon are piled on top of a small tostada and finished with cilantro crema. It was fresh and tangy and it finished with a kick of spice. Even though seafood isn’t usually my favorite, this is something I will order again.
Next we tried a salad. Per the managers recommendation, we ordered the Super Green Salad and had Salmon added on top. The salad had just enough going on. It was a mix of greens, kale, watercress, shaved celery, Parmesan, and a light Parmesan vinaigrette. The portion was large and perfect for sharing.
We each ended up having gluten-free entrees. My friend had the Quinoa and Forbidden Black Rice Bowl with cauliflower, greens and a green curry sauce. The best part of this dish was the sauce, it was sweet and spicy and completely unique.
Charles had the wood-grilled halibut, prepared “naked” with just sea salt, olive oil, and lemon. Summer House’s manager suggested this dish, and Charles loved it.
I had the Summer Vegetable Enchiladas with corn, summer squash, kale, queso fresco and guacamole. I have determined that enchiladas are the least appealing food to photograph, although I find them to be delicious.
After my entree, I was sadly too full for dessert. The cookies at Summer House/Stella Barra are epic and I was disappointed that I failed to save room for one. We had a lovely time at Summer House and I definitely want to check out their lunch menu sometime soon.
Summer House Santa Monica is located at 1954 North Halsted in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. It is a short walk from the Armitage Brown Line.