Cafes in Gage Park

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Pastoral services take place daily at the nonprofit Café El Meson, which provides literature and camaraderie in order to bridge the gap between Christian religious practice and daily life. Beyond a nook containing the sandwich counter and the espresso machine, wood tables spread out under an A-frame ceiling, and armchairs cozy up to a fireplace. Visitors sup on the El Meson sandwich, a ham, turkey, and pepper-jack shindig held on a focaccia-bread dance floor, and they imbibe blended drinks flavored with mango, peach, and other fruit flavors. Musical instruments displayed near the entrance evince a commitment to creative collaboration, and a gurgling fountain on the patio reveals what regular speech therapy can do for a puddle.

4631 S Kedzie Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

Though there may be more than one way to skin a cat, there’s only one way to roast a goat—learn from a master. According the Chicago Reader, once John Zaragoza became interested in making birria, he sought out Miguel Segura, a renowned birriero in La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico who roasts his meat in backyard brick ovens. Two weeks studying with Segura taught him the varying cuts of birria and how to cultivate trust at the counter by chopping the meat in full view instead of pinkie swearing to each customer that the knives are clean.

Today, John and his family have their own recipe down pat. Kosher salt seasons the goat, which they seal in a steamer for up to six hours before covering it in an ancho-based mole sauce and transferring it to the oven. The cuts also yield a clean consommé broth that doubles as a garnish, which can be sprinkled on top alongside onions, cilantro, lime, and peppers. Handmade corn tortillas add the finishing touch to a birria meal at both Birrieria Zaragoza locations.

The goat can be ordered bone in or out, on a plate or in a taco—Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine ranks the restaurant No. 2 in the Midwest on a list of The 64 Best Tacos in the Country. For a spicy side, John's son Jonathan brews a signature fire-roasted salsa from scratch. Imported Mexican sodas wash down savory bites, whose popularity causes the Zaragozas to go through as many as 22 goats in a single weekend—more than the average caged T-Rex eats in a month.

4852 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago,
IL
US

A family owned Pastry Shop, Pastel! cakes created a cozy and relax athmosphere. A place where you can indulge yourself with some unique pastries, cookies and more. We wanted to create something different and unique this side of Chicago. We love what we do and strive to provide you with delicious pastries every time!

4814 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago,
IL
US

Reese's Gourmet Banana-Mana's sweetscrafters whip up a diverse menu of desserts showcasing their own spin on banana pudding infused with fun flavors. Nine-ounce cups, 9"x11" pans, and 3-foot-deep kiddie pools of the fruity confection can be served frozen, as a chilled pudding, or heated into a sugary plasma. Crunchy cookies sink into the surface of the shop's eight varieties, with such flavors as original banana, lemon crunch, piña colada, and cappuccino.

1022 West 63rd Street
Chicago,
IL
US

Though Spanish is the predominant language in the kitchen at La Catedral Cafe, under new management since January of 2012, the restaurant's eclectic cuisine translates to any palate. The menu is rife with American sandwiches, Mexican entrees, and breakfast dishes that fuse the two, but somehow without the use of magnets. It also adapts these flavors to the dietary practices of vegans and vegetarian diners. Ornate rounded tables dot the rustic dining room, where ceiling fans lazily loop above sunbaked decor that evokes a high-end south-of-the-border hot spot.

2500 S Christiana Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

After opening Riggio's Restaurant with her husband, Pasquale, Adreana Riggio became well known to the residents of Chicago's North Center neighborhood, who called her Mama. The year was 1952, and the scent of pizza was still unfamiliar in the city. Though the restaurant has since moved to Niles, customers are still treated like family. Diners can dig into savory Italian classics such as veal parmigiana and American dishes such as chopped steak with housemade mushroom gravy. The pizza menu brims with three sizes of thin-crust pies, which can be customized with ingredients such as pepperoni, spinach, or pineapple.

3911 W 26th St
Chicago,
IL
US