Once a millennial dining cliché, avocado toast has grown up and found its way onto menus across the country, says Jason Hernandez, a chef and restaurant consultant for BladeAndTine.com.
Starting with a base of bread and avocado, kitchens add all sorts of toppings from bacon to lobster. It’s served throughout the day from breakfast and brunch to a shareable snack with cocktails.
“The sky’s the limit,” says Hernandez, who has worked with the California Avocado Commission and took a three-week road trip with his wife sampling toasts around the country. He shares some favorites with USA TODAY.
1. Toast Society Cafe, Las Vegas
In Hernandez’s hometown, this is his go-to spot when he craves avo. Made with smashed avocado, cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, microgreens, sea salt sesame seasoning and olive oil, it can include a sliced hard-boiled egg. “This was one of the most appealing ones we had, and delicious.”
More information at: toastsocietycafe.com
2. Milk and Honey, Nashville, Tennessee
With bread baked on site, this toast gets off to a great start. It’s topped with avocado, sun-dried tomato spread, caramelized onions, arugula, salt, pepper and a sunny-side-up egg. Hernandez says the combination of the house-made sourdough and sun-dried tomato spread was key. “It really made this one pop up.”
More information at: milkandhoneynashville.com
3. Eat Chow, Costa Mesa, California
One of his all-time favorites, Hernandez tries to work in a visit to this mini-chain whenever he visits Orange County. The toasted whole grain baguette’s topped with two poached eggs, avocado thyme parmesan mash, arugula and white balsamic vinegar. “It’s a great blend of flavors,” he says. “There will be a line out the door, and people don’t mind waiting. We’re heading to Southern California tomorrow, and we’ll eat at Eat Chow, guaranteed.”
More information at: eatchow.com
4. Tilman’s, Charlottesville, Virginia
Although most memorable toasts come from breakfast and brunch joints, this wine-and-cheese spot, in a pedestrian mall near the University of Virginia, knows what it’s doing, Hernandez says. It serves baguette slices topped with herb garlic chevre spread, cherry tomatoes, avocado and feta cheese. Make sure to check the chevre’s included, because that’s the key ingredient. “You can taste the farm. You could tell the chevre was fresh. It wasn’t off the shelf, it was homemade.”
More information at: tilmanscheeseandwine.com
5. The Friendly Toast, Boston
Although there are several options, Hernandez was drawn to the lobster-based Lobacado Toast. One side of a grilled ciabatta roll has Maine claw and knuckle lobster meat, while bacon and a sunny-side-up egg come on the other. There’s avocado on both sides, and all’s topped with garlic aioli. “It was like Boston on a sandwich.” There are locations across New England.
More information at: thefriendlytoast.com
6. Cindy’s Rooftop, Chicago
The toast is just as impressive as the view from the top floor of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. The traditional preparation of avocado on ciabatta bread gets a boost from spicy sprouts and pickled chile pepper. “It’s good earthy flavors. Those microgreens just add a little punch,” Hernandez says.
More information at: cindysrooftop.com
7. Snooze, Denver
This small breakfast- and brunch-focused chain knows its way around toast, Hernandez says. The secret is the dense, crunchy rustic bread topped with red-onion honey jam and sunny-side-up eggs. “The fatty richness of the yolk and avocado really work together in harmony with the sweetness of the jam. It’s super dynamic.”
More information at: snoozeeatery.com
8. Le Pain Quotidien, Bethesda, Maryland
This international chain with roots in Belgium keeps the quality high, Hernandez says. The toasted grain bread begins with a buttery avocado spread, then adds citrus cumin sea salt, chia seeds and extra-virgin olive oil, topped with shaved kale and black pepper. “There’s a lot of flavor going on there, but they keep it in harmony,” he says.
More information at:lepainquotidien.com
9. Herb & Wood, San Diego
Hernandez stumbled on this combination market and eatery on a recent visit and was charmed by the homey atmosphere with couch seating – and the toast. The dish is made with candied jalapenos and cilantro. “It was sweet and bitter and melded very well together,” he says. “The attention and detail that went into the restaurant went into the avocado toast.”
More information at: herbandwood.com
10. Edge Alley, Memphis, Tennessee
Adjacent to a brewery, it’s worth coming here even for breakfast. The toast’s built on vegan wheat bread and topped with thick avocado slices, herb vinaigrette, arugula, chia seeds and an optional egg. “It could easily be a lunch or dinner item,” Hernandez says. “You could tell the whole avocado was used.”
More information at:edge-alley.com
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