Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Fri July 08 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | July 8, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    5 Cool Chicago Cafes

    5 Cool Chicago Cafes

    Photo courtesy of 3rd Coast Cafe

    A lot of caffeine fiends consider Starbucks a cafe, but I beg to differ. A good cafe should offer more than just a satisfying cup of coffee, it should also demonstrate a particular personality or attitude, offer comfortable seating and atmosphere, decent Wi-Fi and more to eat than just pastries. Most Chicago neighborhoods boast a cafe that meets these standards and they typically reflect the neighborhood’s sensibility. Visitors can absorb a lot about the city at local spots across the city. Check out these classic Chicago cafes if you’re interested in more than just a latte:

    Kopi A Travelers Cafe

    This bohemian cafe is a favorite for obvious reasons. Not only does this Andersonville gem serve an extensive menu of breakfast dishes, soups, salads, sandwiches and fish tacos, but Kopi Cafe also hosts a shop with global jewelry, clothes and gifts as well as a library of travel books. So you can shop, read and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in one place. Multi-tasking was never this fun. Located on a busy Clark Street corner, Kopi is the perfect place to chill. True to the neighborhood, the vibe is funky and the food veers toward veggie.

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    The Pick Me Up Cafe

    Photo courtesy of The Pick Me Up Cafe

    Located in the heart of Wrigleyville, The Pick Me Up is another cafe standby for me. It’s one of the few authentic cafes that stay open late (until 2 a.m.) and the versatile menu (there’s even a soup of the night) serves up choices for vegans and meat eaters alike. It’s just a few blocks from Wrigley Field but the atmosphere inside is never rowdy or loud. It’s a laid-back place with colorful tables and booths and a featured artist on the walls every month. The service is also laid back, so don’t come here if you’re in a rush. The Chicago Tribune recently listed The Pick Me Up’s coffee as one of the best in the city, so the wait will be worth it.

    Cafe Jumping Bean

    This landmark cafe packs a lot of personality in a small space. Like the Pilsen community it embodies, Cafe Jumping Bean is vibrant, with pink and yellow walls and a counter covered with mosaics. All the fresh vegetables on the menu come from the neighborhood produce market and the waiter’s t-shirts are hand-screened and for sale. The menu includes salads, pizza, sandwiches and house made focaccia bread. There’s local art on the wall and occasional live music. It’s always packed, but the coffee has been described as spectacular, so there’s that.

    3rd Coast Cafe

    It doesn’t get more old school than the understated elegance of the 3rd Coast Cafe. The building dates from the 1920s and there’s a genteel, shabby chic aura about the place. The freshly baked scones and classic cocktails are a Gold Coast tradition and you’ll spot neighborhood old timers having breakfast and lunch daily. Open until midnight every day, this is the place to hang out when Rush Street shenanigans start to get old.

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    Star Lounge Coffee Bar

    The sign outside invites you to “get freshly roasted,” and they are serious. This hip West Town Cafe sells local Dark Matter Coffee, which attracts rabid fans from all over the city. There’s an actual oak bar that patrons happily belly up to for their java fix. It’s not just about the coffee though, Star Lounge is coated in perky orange hues and the patio boasts a trippy Cheshire cat mural. There’s a theater space in back for acoustic music and other performances and pastries and sandwiches from West Town bakery. The staff is friendly and the indie music isn’t too loud — this is the spot for low-key hipsters and everyone else.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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