There are a number of coffee shops in this part of town but Heritage Outpost sets itself apart with a few unique subtleties. Firstly, it's nestled in the lobby of an apartment building (which may have once been a hotel?). So, foot traffic is heavy but not overwhelming...in fact, it's one of the quietest cafes I've visited on Chicago's Northside. Huge windows make this place a great spot for afternoon reading, drawing or organizing your monthly bills. Coffee offerings are direct and to the point with welcomed Soy and Almond milk alternatives on tap. If you're planning on discussing the latest episode of "INSERT FAVORITE SHOW HERE" with your bestie, I would probably find another spot but if you want a quiet place to get some real work done then grab a spot on the sofa or one of the workbenches and make yourself at home for a bit. Oh, there's also a cool tandem bicycle clinging to the wall for the two-wheel enthusiasts.
So, where can you find wine offerings, books and games that you can actually read and play, an intimate bar for chatting up your date (or co-worker), a quiet corner for writing in your journal and even a space for a small gathering to discuss your brilliant idea for an iOS app? Kibbitznest Books, Brews and Blarney. If you follow me you already know that I'm on a journey to find the best cafés around the globe (but especially Chicago) perhaps in hopes of finding some divine inspiration for my own rendition of a place to enjoy a cup and share ideas and communicate. This spot comes pretty damn close to that ideal! We were a bit early to see a screening of "Logan" and had some time to spare so we figured we'd find a somewhere to have something sweet. Well, we found the sweet spot between bar, cafe and library...a place that encourages it's patrons to talk, take photos and focus on interacting with and engaging each other. How do they encourage? By leaving their routers and WiFi at home! Of course, they won't discourage you from blazing open your MacBook or posting to IG on your iPhone but you'd better have data to spare. We were fortunate enough to stumble in on a night that they were hosting a private event and the owners were graceful and took us on an impromptu guided tour, showing us the best the place has to offer. Would I recommend this spot...uhmm, yeah! Caution, if you're looking for a Starbucks substitute you might want to consider some place else but if you want to explore a spot that I would consider the antithesis of a "chain" coffee shop by all means pay Kibbitznest a visit, in fact bring a book, a camera and chill for a while.
Located in the lobby of The Freehand Hotel this unsuspecting café offers a cozy environment for patrons looking for a place to study, eat a better than decent meal and enjoy a real mug of coffee. The espresso drink selection was exceptional and paired well with the food menu that was equally as impressive. To be honest I didn't know what to expect when I arrived but my experiences with hotels have often times lead to quality coffee but a lackluster environment, Café Integral scored high in both categories. There was an interesting split between tables more suitable for serious study and an area for lounging and more casual engagement. We found a very comfortable sofa with a matching coffee table to enjoy our almond milk lattes while taking photos of the unique decorations. The decorations included a vintage piano and Spanish inspired carvings and plants. As with most cafés there is a price to pay for internet access even if it's not monetary...but I think most of our used to pimping out our e-mail address for an hour or so of access to the inter webs. Would I recommend this spot? Absolutely, just be sure to take an Uber because parking in River North will blow your coffee budget.
City Grounds Coffee Bar! So it was time to find a place to read and edit photos and I had heard about this coffee bar from a friend that boasted about the cool patio. We got there late afternoon on a Sunday on what turned out to be an unseasonably warm day for November. The famed patio was packed, as I expected, and I could see that there were groups of people eagerly awaiting an opportunity to swoop down on the next available sofa. So we decided to grab a seat inside and ordered an Americano and a Latte…that was probably a bad idea because the coffee was a bit of disappointment. At this point we’re having mixed feelings about the space but we really like the patio and although the upstairs is “library” quiet its’ very comfortable and reminds me of well-furnished living room.
Most weekends we're always on the look out for good places to have coffee, edit photos and do a bit of reading and research. So I Googled "top Chicago cafes" and The Coffee Studio floated to the top of the list. I have to admit that when we arrived I was expecting to see another cafes that I had driven pass countless times on Clark st. That being said I was happy to drop my bags at a well lit table and get to work. The atmosphere is bright, the coffee tiene fierce and most importantly the baristas were on top of their game. If you're wondering around in Andersonville and have grown tired of 'Kopi' and 'La Colombe' The Coffee Studio is a welcomed alternative.
It's becoming increasingly easy to find places to grab a quick (and decent) cup of coffee. While getting my car serviced at a local VW dealership I walked a few blocks and found a "popup" coffee stand sponsored by Bowtruss. It was a cool spot nestled at the apex of the Mariano Park Plaza in the heart of the Gold Coast. This area is always bustling with activity whether you're in the area for breakfast or on a late night bar crawl. Bowtruss has never disappointed in the quality of the coffee and the staff has always been easy and friendly...in fact, these guys were happy to let me take a few snapshots of them while they prepared a fresh brew. If you're in the area I'd highly recommend this location.
Born and raised in Chicago, I can say that I've been here a very, very long time and so has Kopi. My first time here was in the mid to late 90's and as a youth I didn't fully appreciate it's traveler's appeal but after having an opportunity to bounce to a few continents I now value it's unique character. Grab a traveller's guide from the book shelf, order a "Hot Sipping Chocolate (w/ a shot of espresso) and relax on one of the colorful throw pillows in the front window.
The University of Chicago has paid my bills since the late 90's so I guess I have an allegiance to this fine institution of higher learning. This relationship has allowed me great access to many of its hidden jewels, including "Grounds of Being", a small (tax-free, cash only) café that makes it's home in the basement of the Divinity School. Local restaurants provide a plethora food dishes while university students brew a full array of espresso drinks. While there is a strong theme of religion on the walls and ornaments the feel is more "Course in Theology" than "Sunday School".
Division street boasts a number of trendy eateries and in recent years more and more have surfaced. Caffe Streets plays on the "street" theme by making use of ornate streetlights to illuminate the work of it's knowledgeable baristas. I crashed this place on a busy Saturday and enjoyed a punchy Americano while charging my camera batteries.