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Here's a new reason to take a weekend drive: Evanston restaurant Hota--chef Jonadab Silva's Latin-influenced concept in the old Jacky's on Prairie space--is now serving brunch worth the trip up Sheridan Road.

On a recent Sunday, we sat at a window table and watched families stroll past while we devoured the loveliest plate of French toast ($12) we've had in a long time, balancing its sweetness with savory chicken tortilla soup ($6), salty Gunthorp Farms ham ($3) and smoky huevos rancheros ($11). (We wish we had a whole box of the glorious doughnut bites delivered to every table at the beginning of the meal.)

Hota's serene and sunny atmosphere is a relief from the overrun downtown standbys; so far, the masses of city brunchers haven't discovered this charming North Shore respite.

While you're in the neighborhood, make a morning of it and check out the latest exhibit at the beautiful Evanston Art Center. On view through March 2, "Capturing the Beauty of Science" showcases some of the breathtaking images that have resulted from research projects at nearby Northwestern University.

Hota, 2545 Prairie Ave., Evanston; 847-733-0899 or

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