Jeff Dreyfuss and his son Tony each discovered a love of coffee independently. Jeff fell in love with the dark brew on after-class sojourns at local coffee shops during his tenure as an Indonesian Language Professor at the University of Washington-Seattle. Tony got his first taste of obsession when he landed a job sweeping floors in a coffee shop while contemplating what to do with his philosophy degree. The two talked to each other about coffee constantly, eventually finding the mutual inspiration to take the plunge into the roasting and brewing business. They opened Metropolis Coffee in 2001 to share their bean-driven bliss with the world. The team purchases their coffee directly from farmers, but doesn’t expose a single bean to heat until the crop arrives at the roasting facility in Chicago. Once there, they roast the coffee in small batches to order, ensuring that each cup brewed in-house or bag of beans for savoring at home came out of the roaster no earlier than the day before. Each barista first learns to appreciate the roasting process—and its tasty results—with hands-on training in the roasting facility before setting foot behind the counter at the company's Edgewater café. Armed with a beginning-to-end understanding of coffee creation, the drinksmiths brew and serve well-balanced beverages for coffee aficionados at an espresso-scented hangout that Time Out Chicago calls "outstanding."
At The Coffee Studio, style is important. The cafe, founded in December 2007 by a husband and wife team of designers, has since earned a deluge of glowing reviews for its meticulous approach to brewing as well as its ambiance. With an aesthetic that Time Out Chicago calls "midcentury modern" and Serious Eats characterizes as a "ski-chalet-cum-urban-oasis," the cafe courts a domestic, yet elegant brand of comfort. Guest sip on no-drip coffee while seated at long wooden tables beneath midcentury paper lanterns. This convergence of fashion and function is embodied in smaller form in the Cafe Solo, a glass carafe snugly insulated by a neoprene jumpsuit that keeps the coffee hot without burning it. Thanks to a partnership with Intelligentsia, The Coffee Studio brews its fair-trade beans within a couple weeks of roasting, a method that landed the business on Delish.com's "Cool Beans: The Best Coffee Shops in the U.S." and Bon Appetit Magazine's "Top 10 Best Boutique Coffee Shops" in 2010.
For owners Bob and Gina Hartwig, Lovely: a bake shop and Lovely, too: a bake shop are a part of their life's story. The bakeries began as wishful thoughts, daydreams of comforting places where customers could come in for a delicious pastry and cup of coffee before heading on their day. Wanting to turn their visions into welcoming reality, Bob and Gina gathered a family of employees who greet customers, brew Intelligentsia coffee, and dish out treats pulled straight from toasty ovens. Free Wi-Fi keeps guests connected to the outside world, and a full espresso bar gives customers a place to grab a piping hot cup of java and a row of creamer canisters to tell their troubles to without judgment. Their dreams realized, Bob and Gina cemented the business’s place in their story in October 2008, marrying one another on Lovely’s newly-built patio and opening the shop to others looking to merge their lives in a serene setting.
Though Loving Hut has locations sprinkled across the globe, no two menus are the same. Whether in San Francisco or Toyko, the Asian-inspired vegan eatery’s talented chefs concoct dishes catered to local cuisines and ingredients. In Chicago, chefs work with a tasty textured vegetable protein—shortened to “TVP” on the menu. The protein is perfectly executed within Pan-Asian offerings, such as Korean barbecue and the Thai curry that “charmed” Chicago Magazine. Of course, chefs don’t use TVP in every menu item; salads boom with fresh produce, such as sweet potatoes, beets, and avocados, while veggie burgers showcase traditional tomato and pickle toppings. In line with the all-natural cuisine, Loving Hut’s “hut” surrounds patrons in earthy colors and textures. Furthermore, friendly reminders, such as “Share the World with All Beings,” are written across the walls.
When Jon Cignarale left his job as a CPS teacher, he decided to embrace his passion for the culinary arts. More specifically, breakfast. Upon opening Over Easy Café in 2006, his goal was to become a breakfast spot with a modern bent. He did this by updating traditional dishes in new and exciting ways, such as banana-spiked French toast, upside down apple pancakes, and a pork belly bliss breakfast sandwich. The playfulness seen in these innovative dishes is mirrored in the café’s modern décor, which features bright yellow walls and a hanging installation of eggs.
Aodake Asian Bistro's chefs quickly whip up traditional and westernized Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese food. Guests order their meals at the front counter, and then head to a free table to wait for it. There, they can relax and watch TV or take advantage of Aodake's free WiFi while swirling yaki soba noodles, biting into oyster tempura sandwiches, or popping cooked- and raw-fish sushi rolls into their mouths. Aodake also has a variety of vegetarian rolls that feature the likes of avocado, sweet potato, and free-range seaweed.
The bistro opens early to ply guests with Taiwanese dan bings and Asian breakfast sandwiches. The dan bing is a savory crepe crammed with green onion, eggs, cheese, and sauce. The Asian breakfast sandwich features a fried egg, cheese, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and sweet mayo on toasted Asian milk bread.