Chef K., owner of MyGi's Bakery Cafe, shapes cakes into giant Ramen packets, plates tapas, and serves gourmet lunches and dinners. Glittering candy buffets coat tables with sweetness and sparkle, and her specialty cakes personalize birthdays. Chef K. sometimes infuses her food with Caribbean influences, but her skill set spans the globe: students can choose to craft sushi, for instance, or cook their food in a Scandanavian hot spring. Chicago native and Ladha Catering owner Chef Tammy joins Chef K. in spreading the joys of international cooking and entertaining in pallet-expanding classes. Whether teaching a novice to perfectly grill a steak or serving brunch to some hungry weekend patrons, the chefs' passion for food and sense of artistry guide their endeavors.
Owner Donna Smith-Grice describes her father Jimmy Smith as drinking his coffee the way he lived his life: "strong and sweet." Inspired by the wafting aromas of his daily coffee pots drifting up from her childhood memories, she opened her own coffee shop and borrowed his first initial to complete the name of the newly born Lazy J Coffee.
In keeping with its homey origins, the café's interior seems more like an eclectic living room than a restaurant, with well-worn leather couches facing a faux fireplace and a small wooden buffet topped with old-fashioned candleholders. Amidst this domestic comfort, baristas steam mugfulls of the shop's signature grind and specialty espresso drinks or fill cups with fruit smoothies that, like recovered cyborgs, are entirely organic.
Windy City Dawgs serves up a hearty menu that revolves around eats inspired by––or chartered directly from––Chicago. Meat cravings find savory satiation with a Chicago-style Vienna beef hot dog ($4) or a slow-cooked seasoned italian beef sandwich ($5.25) cradled by crisp-crusted Gonnella bread. Or, please Chi-hungry taste buds with made-from-scratch pan pizzas ($13+) and Supreme tamales ($1.60), a cylindrical classic since 1950, with a cornmeal shell––much like the Hamburglar's getaway car––filled to the brim with ground beef and spices.
Certified by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry as authentic Cajun, Gumbo Daddy's extensive menu bedecks taste buds with southern specialties straight from the Louisiana bayous. Each bona fide dish is forged from veritable recipes baked inside Louis Armstrong's sacramental French horn, such as the chicken and sausage gumbo, a hearty bowl prepared with robust roux, okra, and chunks of moist meat served with a fried roll ($6.49 for 16 oz.). The catfish combo will appease seafood savants with a serving of succulent fish, festooned with southern seasonings or swathed in a distinctive Creole batter and accompanied with fries, hushpuppies, and coleslaw ($8.99 for five pieces). Children eat free when adults purchase an entree or one-up a wisecracking alligator in sunglasses. Peruse Gumbo Daddy’s catering menu to feed large groups or to feed smaller groups of competitive eaters.
The owners of Classic Cup Cafe grew up surrounded by the evocative aromas and flavors of home cooking. At their quaint eatery, a menu of comfort fare, re-created using healthy alternatives, mirrors their childhood experience. In lieu of french fries, they pair sweet-potato wedges with a burger crafted from free-range chicken out of central Texas. Each bird is void of antibiotics, hormones, and glitzy feather extensions. The caf?'s freshly baked breads boast a lower sodium count and higher omega-3 content than traditional loaves, and some ingredients hail from small local businesses. As servers dole out the nourishing eats and fill mugs with italian cappuccino or mexican hot chocolate, diners can snuggle up with a good book or page torn out of a menu, then challenge friends to a game of Scrabble.
Ethnos Coffee and Tea's beverage smiths pour gourmet coffees, teas, and other specialty drinks in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. The staff meticulously roasts fair trade single-origin beans—including Uganda Peaberry, Grand Turk, Woodstock Morning (seasonal), and more ($1.80+)—into caffeinated splendor. Lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos ($2.60+) spell out love poems in their foam in hopes of wooing a complementary croissant ($2.25) or piece of cheesecake ($3), while a fleet of tireless blenders whips up Mocafe Organics frappes in flavors such as Belizian Vanilla and Dominican Mocha ($3.30+). The Italian Soda Smoothies combine eight refreshing flavors such as marionberry lemon and orange cream with Madagascar vanilla smoothie powder ($2.50+) to cool the palates of those who refuse to swallow a refrigerator.