Tucked into the sunlit corner of a handsome, seven-story, brick-and-sandstone building in Rogers Park sits an unassuming coffee shop. The Common Cup—about a block west from the Morse Red Line stop—serves Intelligentsia coffee, homemade pastries, and Red Hen breads, but what sets it apart from countless other shops with similarly ticked inventory sheets is the cafe's downright enthusiasm about local artists. That and the ice cream machine. Far from just a coffee house, Common Cup has created a space that TimeOut Chicago recognizes as a "vital community node" for artists in Rogers Park. Area musicians set up busking hubs almost every Friday, regaling guests with their mastery of guitar or the alto kazoo, and everywhere, art is on display. Collectors and casual oglers can buy or peruse all manner of handicraft, from christmas ornaments to prints of various Chicago landmarks. Even tots can bound into the artisanal fray, taking in readings by local story-tellers, and afterwords, they can sidle over to the soft-serve ice cream machine that mixes in any number of fixins before swirling out the dulcet delight.
When describing the American Midwest, the word “tropical” is rarely used. Thankfully, Caribbean American Bakery brings a taste of paradise to the landlocked locale with Jamaican baked goods and cuisine. Its patties represent Jamaica’s most prevalent fast food; the crispy pastries come stuffed with beef, chicken, or veggies. And breads exude the sweet aroma of coconut or ginger, as do some of the bakery's cakes and the Caribbean's grandmothers. Jerk chicken and pork epitomize the savory side of the nation’s cuisine, and often star in catering packages.
Conn's Cafe & Catering Inc.'s professionally uniformed wait staff and executive chefs furnish festivities with a comprehensive menu of entrees, buffet packages, barbecue fare, and boxed lunches. The full-service company provides tables, chairs, linens, tableware, and invitations, offering customers reprieve from the stresses of party planning and additional time to perfect their chicken dance. A catering coordinator can counsel guests on décor, entertainment, and locations, and licensed and insured bartenders are available to distribute pours of champagne and spirits. In addition to the standard and seasonal menus, the caterers can also furnish Indian, Thai, Cajun, Middle Eastern and Mexican fare, as well as thematic decorations.
Red Rover Cafe's menu typifies classic deli fare, from the New York-style bagels served each morning to the kosher dill pickles paired with every sandwich. Their selection of sandwiches includes classics such as reubens and tuna salad, though patrons can also build their own choosing from a selection of meat, cheese, and toppings. There are also a few salads on the menu, as well as freshly baked pies and Intelligentsia coffee, which is strong enough to wake a bear hibernating in a mattress store, and Schoeps gourmet ice cream from Wisconsin.
Though you wouldn?t expect to find professional pool tables in a caf? nor freshly crafted deli sandwiches in a pool hall, Pressure Billiards and Cafe has managed to seamlessly combine these elements into a single all-encompassing amusement space. On the billiards side of the facility, 13 9-foot Brunswick Metro tables bask in the glow of contemporary wall sconces and ample overhead light as players aim for pocket dominance like a keys-versus-wallet grudge match. A slate of eight LCD televisions displaying seasonal sports games, meanwhile, ensures that adrenaline levels never wane between turns. After billiards bouts conclude, guests can saunter over to the caf? side of the establishment to dine on classic pub dishes flanked by a range of mixed drinks and a dozen bottled beers. Once fully refueled, clients can wind down in the lounge or partake in one of the bar?s nightly activities, such as an open mic, trivia night, or comedy showcase.