To find many of the fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs that underscore their Mediterranean menu, Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits' chefs only need to walk a few steps away from the kitchen—to the restaurant's own greenhouse. Although it's hard to get more local than that, many other ingredients are sourced from Cakeridge Farms in the Ohio River Valley, owned by head chefs Dan Pancake and Beth Partridge. Both worked under James Beard Award winner Tony Mantuano in Chicago before perfecting their Mediterranean cooking and wine-bottle-juggling on Spain's Costa Brava.
At Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits, Dan and Beth whip up fresh pasta, flatbreads made to order, and small plates inspired by French, Spanish, and Moroccan cuisine. A lengthy wine and spirits menu makes it easy to pair each dish with an apropos beverage, including small-batch and organic options. Diners can enjoy their meal on the restaurant's three-season patio or inside at tables crafted from fallen ash trees harvested from Cakeridge Farms.
Vito Brancato is a man of many trades: indie filmmaker, pro wrestler, and—at his neighborhood cafe in Berwyn—a purveyor of rich, earthy coffees and espressos and mouthwatering Italian cuisine. One of his online films series, At the Coffee Shop, even stars Caffe Palermo as the front for a Chicago gang's illicit activities. The tagline is "An espresso shot can be deadly," but have no fear upon entering; in real life the cafe is welcoming place to grab a bite—and not a bite out of crime.
Here, guests celebrate afternoons with paninis featuring Pecorino romano cheese on foccacia, and adds touches of decadence to patrons' morning commutes with their caffe mocha spiked with swirls of Nutella. As the anti-chain-store signs in the window proudly declare, each item on the menu is handmade by locals with care, from the Sicilian-style cannolis and lemon knots to the beans used to create every cup of espresso.
Red Hen painstakingly selects the freshest and finest ingredients for its loaves, then bakes them with delicate, hand-tailored production techniques. Because all the yeasty entities are created daily in an enormous oven shaped like George Lopez's head, prices and availability vary. Past baked delights include prosciutto and asiago croissants ($3.50), velvet ciabatta ($4.80), olive rosemary bread ($6), the sweet-tooth satiating chocolate bomb cookie ($2.60), and an armada of other bagels, buns, rolls, and bollos. Tackle heartier hungers with soups du jour and sandwiches ($5.95–$7.95) including the cranberry chicken salad, dotted with walnuts and celery. Before the inevitable post-bread nap halts your afternoon ice-sculpting plans, perk up with beverages made with Caffe Umbria coffee and high-quality espresso.