Favorite Cafees / Coffee in Chicago?
San Franciscan visiting Chicago for my first time. It's kind of exciting I know next to nothing about Chicago - and visiting awesome cafes and coffee roasters is one thing I love. If there are any cafe / bakeries you love even better. Ideas?
I don't drink coffee, but I'm told Chicago's best local coffee roaster is Intelligentsia, with a couple of coffeehouses in the Loop, one in Lakeview, and their "Chicago Roasting Works & Training Lab" on the near west side. Metropolis Coffee is another well-regarded local roaster, but their cafe is located in the Edgewater neighborhood on the north side, eight miles from downtown Chicago (about a half-hour ride on the CTA Red Line to the Granville stop). Many local coffeehouses also serve Intelligentsia or Metropolis coffee.
We also have outlets of some of the best coffee roasters based elsewhere, including Peet's from Berkeley, Lavazza from Italy, and of course those two big companies from Seattle.
And while I don't drink coffee, I love pastries. For bakeries/pastry shops that also serve coffee with at least a few tables where you can have coffee, the best one downtown is Fox & Obel, which is actually our premier gourmet grocer with the best fresh meat and fish, prepared foods, etc, and their baked goods are the best in the city, including their yummy cinnamon swirl rolls, amazing bran muffins, and lots of other great goodies. My other two favorites in the city are both in Lincoln Park, about four blocks from each other: Vanille Patisserie, and Floriole Bakery. Also quite good are Alliance Bakery in Wicker Park and Fritz Pastry in Lincoln Park. Other than Fox & Obel, these are all roughly 3-4 miles from the Loop.
re: Bone Thug n Hominy
I am from SF as well, and would echo recommendations for the Intelligentsia shops - they're the best I have found (so far) in Chicago that approaches what we have in SF. The coffee is very good, carefully prepared and artistically served. The pastries are also top notch, both laminated baked goods (croissants, etc.) and their muffins - from two different sources.
Fox & Obel also has great baked goods, and pretty good coffee (as well as full breakfast items).
For me if it's coffee first, I'll go to Intelligentsia, and if it's food first, to Fox & Obel.
A little off the beaten path but VERY accessible by the El is Beans & Bagels at the Rockwell Brown line. The coffee is Metropolis, but the patries...oh, my the pastries. The ham & cheese croissant is divine. The pastry chef is from France and it shows. Bagels and sandwiches are good too. This is a very cute part of Ravenswood Manor, very "local" not a lot of tourists. Just two stops west of Lincoln Square if you're going to be in that area at all.
Oh, which makes me thing of Julius Meinl, the Austrian coffee shop that for some reason has a couple of locations here in Chicago. Good coffee and great sandwiches and pastries. My fave location is on Lincoln and Montrose in Lincoln Square, just head south from the Western Brown Line stop.
Beans & Bagels
1812 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
The Chicago coffee scene has blossomed recently. Asado on Irving Park is outstanding, with a small basic operation and a beautiful roaster in plain view. Intelligentsia is the older stand-by and has the most convenient loop locations, including a location in the beautiful Monadnock building (only open during the week) and on Randolph a few blocks from Millennium Park.
Buzz, in Wicker Park, is a pretty solid shop. I've only had their iced coffee, but it was extremely smooth for hot-brewed.