Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve
Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

Every once in a while I need a break from urban living (think traffic, parking and construction noise) in exchange for the great outdoors. Last weekend I ventured up north to Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve in Rancho Penasquitos for a hike with some friends. The 6.5-mile loop is partly shaded by trees, does not have any steep inclines, and is marked at the halfway point by a “waterfall.” The reason for those quotation marks is that you need to keep your expectations low around this waterfall. It resembles more of a water feature in someone’s backyard than it does a waterfall with lots of water — but is still pretty. It tends to get hot this far inland by about mid-morning during the summer months, so get there early. Bring water, and be on the lookout for snakes and ticks. The canyon is is very scenic and well-maintained by park rangers. It’s a hike without the strenuousness of a mountain. Because #nature.

Carrot cake pancakes at Hanna's Gourmet
Carrot cake pancakes at Hanna’s Gourmet

We were ready to carb-load after our hike. Read: pancakes. So naturally we went to Hanna’s Gourmet in Normal Heights to get carrot cake pancakes served with cream cheese frosting. The eclectic menu has a variety of egg dishes inspired by different cuisines (for example: eggs a la Marrakech, eggs a la Africana, eggs a la Espana, eggs a la France … you get the point), as well as breakfast sandwiches, French toast, pancakes, chilaquiles and biscuits & gravy, among others. They also have fresh pastries and coffee. Hanna’s is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Friday, and for weekend brunch. They also hold a family-style dinner one Thursday per month for $35/person (first seating is at 5:30 p.m., second seating is at 7:30 p.m.). The next dinner will be held on June 23 with a Ethiopia/Eritrea theme. Bring on the spice!