Beyond Instagram-worthy lattes of Cupitol and the Pancake of the Month at Le Peep, Northwestern University students are hard-pressed to find many Evanston places that can pump our veins with sugar and our brains with caffeine when we need it most on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Or, at least that's what I thought. But then, I wondered: Maybe our brunch problem isn't due to lack of options, but rather a lack of curiosity. 

I consulted Yelp, and in the top spot on the list of "Evanston's Best Restaurants," sits Hearth Restaurant on Hinman Avenue inside the Homestead Hotel. Turns out, this hidden gem just started serving a brunch menu, and I was lucky enough to sample it. Here's what I thought. Trust me, this is a game changer. 

The Vibe: Cozy and Welcoming

Mia Hirsch

True to its name, setting the ambiance of the restaurant is a cozy hearth atop real wood and red brick. During the daytime, light pours in from windows looking out onto the street, which opens onto a porch that seats visitors during the spring and summer months. 

Warm Up: Queso Fundido 

Mia Hirsch

As a Texas native, seeing queso on a brunch menu is nothing new. But in Evanston, few restaurants dare to venture beyond eggs and pastries before noon. Hearth's take on this classic Mexican dish has traditional green chorizo, but includes succulent mushrooms and sautéed onions for added flavor. The star of this dish for me were the tortillas, which were perfectly baked and offered just the right amount of crunch when combined with the queso. 

Thirst Quench: Brunch Libations 

Mia Hirsch

When we asked our server which drinks to try, her eyes lit up and she immediately pointed to the Blueberry Zinger, a mix of blueberry and hibiscus with ginger beer and fresh lemon. I absolutely loved this drink. It was refreshing and perfect for starting these upcoming sunny spring quarter mornings. I'm also a huge fan of Bloody Mary's, so I felt obliged to try Hearth's version. It was deliciously spicy and paired well with the Queso Fundido. 

Brunch of Champions: Flat Iron Steak + Eggs

Mia Hirsch

I've never been a huge steak fan, but the staff at Hearth recommended this dish so I decided to try it out. It definitely didn't disappoint - super crunchy hash browns paired with a poached egg and charred broccoli complemented the tender steak nicely, and I'd definitely recommend this dish for its added benefits as protein-filled fuel for your day. 

A Marathon, Not A Sprint: Huevos Rancheros 

Mia Hirsch

At brunch, more is really merrier, so of course I brought a friend along to try yet another of Hearth's brunch home runs. The Huevos Rancheros, a concoction of refried black beans, crispy tortilla, avocado, salsa Mexicano, and cotija cheese is so pretty you almost don't want to eat it. But once we snapped our pics and dug in, my friend couldn't stop indulging in the perfect blends of spice and crunch in this knockout dish. 

Sweet Victory: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Mia Hirsch

If you think you can't find room for this sugary snack at your Hearth table, think again. You absolutely cannot visit Hearth Restaurant without trying these pancakes from cinnamon roll heaven. Seriously, I've had my fair share of sweet brunch treats, and this dish tops the list. Toasted cinnamon is sprinkled over these fluffy, cinnamon-infused cakes, which are drizzled with a delectable cream cheese glaze that you will want to take home in bulk. Still not convinced? These pancakes are only eight dollars, so you can brunch on a budget and savor every last bite.  

You just can't beat the ambiance, the food and the lack of wait-time at Hearth Restaurant's brunch. Be warned: You won't be able to walk in and be seated immediately for much longer. I have a feeling Hearth is about to become very popular in the Evanston brunch scene this spring, and it totally deserves the hype.