The wine aficionados at Taste Food and Wine acquaint palates with sundry wine varietals, complemented by gourmet meats, cheeses, and deli fare. Free tastings on select weeknights allow patrons to sample various reds and whites, and the wine-of-the-month club supplies subscribers with two bottles that, like a stray salesman, make regular appearances on doorsteps. The deli coaxes out each note in complex wines with an array of munchables such as fresh pastas, smoked salmon rolls, prosciutto, and imported and domestic cheeses.
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.
A vintage, barrel-shaped neon sign shimmers against the rough brick exterior of The Fish Keg, where the Hansen family draws on 50 years of experience to hand-bread shrimp, fish, and chicken and concoct made-from-scratch tartar and cocktail sauces. Shipments of seafood fly in daily from around globe to star in the rotating menu, which changes according to the availability of quirky fishing-boat names. Orange roughy arrives from New Zealand, and shrimp bursts in from the Gulf of Mexico to don cloaks of spicy batter and splash into the golden depths of a deep fryer.
Spices, mixes, and goods from Zatarain's crowd colorful shelves, begging to bring their piquant fragrances to home kitchens. The Hansen family's happy chatter wafts into the dining room as they craft custom party platters that fuel shindigs and offer tailored maritime experiences without the embarrassment of an overly snug lobster costume.
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.