Batavia Creamery began its life as a Baskin-Robbins in 1991, but even 31 flavors proved too limiting to the shop’s ambitious owners. They rebranded and went independent, boosting their flavor count to 44 and supplementing their traditional cones and cups with thick shakes, smoothies, and custom cakes. Though the flavors are subject to change, there’s always something for everyone—recent cakes and pies have included praline-pecan, mint-chocolate-chip, and cookies ‘n’ cream varieties. The shop also sells its creations in take-home pints and quarts, which customers can keep for themselves or use to play fetch with the neighborhood kids.
Limestone Coffee & Tea's organic, fair-trade coffees are brewed with beans from Chicago Coffee Roasters, promoting feelings of health and responsibility with each sip from the classic coffee menu. Caffeinate a morning with a double latte ($2.90) or a cup of the daily brew ($1.60/12 oz.), or enhance a standard teatime with Green Walnut tea, a smooth green tea mixed with coconut and halved walnuts ($1.75/12 oz.). To combine solid sustenance with luxury beverages, peruse the light breakfast and lunch menu for café fare such as a slice of spinach-and-feta quiche ($4.16) and an herbed bacon bagels, an everything bagel crowned with onions and bacon ($5.50).
Moo LaLa twirls icy peaks of 95% fat-free, soft-serve ice cream to form elaborate sundaes, parfaits, and sky-high cones. The Rocky Top ($3.58) piles strata upon substrata of spanish peanuts, hot fudge, and glacial sweetness to create an accurate cross-section model of a mountaintop sugar mine. Dessert designers bake fresh triple-chocolate brownies for the rich brownie-a-la-moo'd sundae ($3.58) and whip up spiced waffle-cone shells for a taco impersonator stuffed with pecans, caramel, and ice cream ($2.68). Moo LaLa's soft serve, flavored with either chocolate or real vanilla extract, gleams with cold symmetry in swirls (small $3.35, regular $3.86, big $4.51) that, in a pinch, can be used to propose to a loved one. Meanwhile, mix-ins ranging from cookie dough and Oreos to strawberry and pineapple stud creamy expanses with treasure troves of flavor.
Four Beans Coffeehouse's baristas sate the ping of caffeine cravings with a bevy of flavorful fresh-brewed coffees, fine teas, and baked goods. Cool overheated summer stomachs with an iced caramel macchiato ($3.90 medium; $4.30 large), or stoke the fires of creative frenzy with a hot mocha ($3.50 small; $4 medium; $4.50 large). Quick eats, such as the croissant sandwich ($2.99) with egg salad, tuna salad, or chicken salad, banish midday munchies. A cup of French press tea ($3.95) comes in over 80 varieties, served in a porcelain cup and saucer that take turns politely engaging customers in philosophical debates. For take-home orders, bean buffs can purchase blends from all corners of the actually round world, including the Ethiopian Harrar, a complex medium roast with hints of blueberry and cinnamon flavor, or the Tanzanian Peaberry, a mellow companion.
Owner Valerie Beck and her team of chocophile tour guides lead guests on walking tours of Chicago’s historical bakeries and chocolatiers, narrating the history of beloved sweets while walking an easy route through vistas of Chicago’s stunning architectural heritage. While snacking on samples of sweets, guests learn about chocolate’s storied history, the cupcake’s rise to prominence, and how to guess the flavor of filling inside Oompa Loompas by sight. Tours convene throughout Chicago’s many neighborhoods, giving guests a sneak peek into Chicago's signature confections, boutique shops, and mobile sweet-vending trucks. The chocolate or cupcake jaunts provide the perfect setting for a girls’ day out or bachelorette party, showing tour-goers the sweeter side of the city without getting caught in construction sites of shoddily built gingerbread houses.
Anointed as one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2005, Moveable Feast's Deeply Fudgey brownies smother biters' bicuspids in moist, rich dark chocolate. The shop's husband-and-wife duo invented the recipe after hundreds of experiments, some of which resulted in mutant turtle-brownie hybrids who still slowly crawl the earth, surprising children at birthday parties and periodically bathing themselves in cups of milk.