Baking is a family affair at Sweety Pies Bakery, which is run by Arden and Bruce Kruger and their daughter and son, Dana and Chad. They told the Skokie Review that their passion started as a hobby; before opening the bakery, the family constantly made pies from recipes passed down from Dana and Chad's grandmother. In 2007, they opened Sweety Pies, and their housemade cupcakes, scones, and cookies have been gobbled up by visitors to downtown Skokie ever since. Everything's made from scratch in small batches using ingredients such as real sweet-cream butter and freshly cracked eggs. Their dedication has earned them such accolades as a first-place finish in the Skokie Patch's readers’ choice awards for their cakes—but it's their pies that truly set the bakery apart.
"Everything here is really good, especially the pies," Ted Brunson raved on an episode of Chicago's Best after sampling Sweety Pies’ rum-laced Crocodile pecan pie, dense chocolate cashmere pie, and raspberry supreme pie, which has a sour-cream topping that lends a cheesecake-like flavor to each bite. The Krugers never add preservatives to anything, so visitors should immediately teleport home with their turtle brownies or handmade scones, or consume the treats onsite in the cozy dining room along with cups of Intelligentsia coffee. The menu also includes quiches, soups, and granola by the pound.
Since its inception in 1999, Adagio Teas has filled the cups of its ever-growing customer base with farm-fresh gourmet teas harvested from across the globe. Seasoned sippers and new tea drinkers alike gather around the fragrant vapors of Adagio's expansive selection, which includes thousands of unique green, chai, and herbal teas. In addition to its stockpile of potables, Adagio Teas puts an innovative spin on tea ware with a varied collection of ceramic sets, Asian-inspired pots, and electric kettles that purr when plugged in or tickled gently with unused leaves. Adagio Teas' products fill the virtual shelves of its online store, and can also be found in many gourmet and health-food shops.
Knives flick quickly through pieces of carefully selected fruit, dicing sweet produce into bite-sized pieces at Chill Bubble Tea. Organic frozen yogurt cradles just-sliced toppings such as mango, berries, and bananas, flaunting fat-free and kosher status and the ability to inspire brain-freeze research. Springy pearls cruise through cool, customizable cups of bubble tea in flavors including watermelon, coconut, and cotton candy. Timi loose-leaf tea leaves, picked by hand as carefully as a king's birthday crown, steep in steaming cups beneath modish crimson lights and release delicate dispatches to nostrils.
Since 1993, Casteel Coffee’s baristas have caffeinated locals with steaming cups of artisanal roasted beans. The shop’s staffers follow in the footsteps of roast master Lee Casteel, who set the café’s course by roasting beans in small batches to ensure high quality. A new generation of roasters sources arabica coffees from around the world, procuring fair-trade varieties and naturally processed decaf beans whenever possible. To fulfill their motto, “fresh from our roaster to your cup,” coffeemakers pour drip coffees or press potent espresso shots from freshly ground beans.
Herbal, scented, and green and black teas also flow from the metaphorical tap, and the shop even purveys the occasional piece of high-tech brewing equipment, such as an electric coffee grinder or a mug that has WiFi. The success of the café’s knowledgeable staff and liquid pick-me-ups fueled the company’s expansion from a single café in Evanston to a second location in Chicago’s Loop. Casteel Coffee animates a dedication to its community by not supplanting the water in local fire hydrants with coffee and by supporting nonprofit organizations, such as the Chicago Children’s Museum.
The baristas at The Rock House wouldn’t lavish their attention on any old beans picked out of a wholesale catalogue—they needed a more personal experience with the coffee-growing industry. To guarantee the wholly non-exploitative origins of each cup of java served at their shop, the coffee brewers partnered with growers to develop their very own crops and went the extra mile to ensure quality by roasting all the beans in-house. As the baristas brew single cups with an artisanal pour-over method, customers can sip Sri Lankan teas, sift through rock-’n’-roll-inspired merchandise under the light streaming from naked light bulbs, chandeliers, and disco balls.
Founded in 1913, Leonidas produces more than 100 kinds of Belgian chocolates and disseminates them to sweet teeth the world over. Inside the cozy Chocolate Café, hot-chocolate beverages trade stock tips with solid chocolate callettes, each made in accordance with traditional methods from 100 percent pure cocoa butter, fresh butter, and fresh cream. Leonidas's chefs create additional treats with hazelnuts from Turkey, morello cherries from the Périgord, and walnuts from Grenoble, with items available in-store and online. The staff encourages decadence and serves an assortment of fresh truffles such as the perle coco, which is forged with milk-chocolate ganache and coconut flakes.