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.
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.
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.
At Ace's Gourmet Paninis, culinary-school grad Chef Van presides over an unlikely marriage between the Italian-born panini and the flavors of Southern comfort fare. He presses only quality ingredients into his sandwiches, including three signature paninis loaded with chicken, beef brisket, or pulled pork slathered in house barbecue sauce. His menu also flaunts a separate breakfast section that highlights paninis and burritos stuffed with more eggs and meats than a vending machine for bodybuilders. His renditions of childhood favorites, such as peanut butter and jelly, even please pintsize palates. Patrons can settle in to surf free WiFi in the eatery or grab a takeout container to feast at home.:
Eyes widen and noses take a big whiff as guests enter I Heart Cafe and are greeted by leaf-green walls, pink cartoon cupcakes, and an Asian fusion menu of French-inspired pastries and creamy Vietnamese coffee. Made-to-order beignets can be topped with cinnamon sugar or used as pillows until espresso drinks open sleepy eyelids. Nearly a dozen Asian teas, including jasmine, lychee, and mango varieties, pair nicely with weekend dim sum or hearty bánh mi sandwiches.
Paw Paw's is a quaint little 50's style soda shoppe with old fashioned ice cream desserts, and a more modern day menu. We pride ourselves on using the best ingredients we can find to make your meal or Dessert a delight to the palate. All of our soups, salads and daily desserts are homemade. Famous for our chicken salad.