Food & Drink

Low-Key Coffee Shops
 

STAR LOUNGE COFFEE BAR
The boho coffee bar’s new owner, Jesse Diaz, flies around the world to find the best raw beans and roasts them himself. WiFi profile: No time limit and plenty of plugs at the tables. 2521 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-384-7827, starloungecoffee.com

BROTHERS K COFFEE HOUSE
The owners Brian and John Kim brew Metropolis coffee and import baked goods from Bennison’s. Cheerful chatter from the moms and their kids keeps things burbling. WiFi profile: Free and signal reaches the sidewalk seating. 500 Main St., Evanston; 847-328-7940, brotherskcoffee.com

THE COFFEE STUDIO
The owners Miguel and Lee Corrina Cano tapped their design backgrounds to create a space that’s warm, modern, and simple. But décor still takes a back seat to the individually brewed cups of coffee and the shop’s syrups made from scratch. WiFi profile: One hour with purchase. 5628 N. Clark St.; 773-271-7881, thecoffeestudio.com

ISTRIA CAFÉ
Tucked under the bridge at the 57th Street Metra stop, this tiny urban escape is surprisingly peaceful and bathed in natural light. Coffee, homemade gelato, and hot panini. WiFi profile: One hour with purchase. 1520 E. 57th St.; 773-955-2556, istriacafe.com

NOBLE TREE
With its hodgepodge of round tables and comfy furniture, Noble Tree’s three-story Lincoln Park townhouse feels like a well-kept urban commune. Ivy-ensconced patio coming soon. WiFi profile: Free and plugs aplenty. 2444 N. Clark St.; 773-248-1500, nobletreecoffee.com

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Hidden City Patios
 

 

1 VOLO RESTAURANT WINE BAR
A secret garden/French bistro mash-up, this rustic 50-seat patio is fenced in by a century-old barn. Snag one of the semiprivate cabanas—the loungers and low tables make them ideal for relaxing with friends. 2008 W. Roscoe St.; 773-348-4600, volorestaurant.com

2 SMALL BAR
The lack of polish is part of the allure at this quietly popular neighborhood spot in Avondale, where the bar’s tiny courtyard projects an unrushed vibe that encourages long afternoons of beer drinking. 2956 N. Albany Ave.; 773-509-9888, thesmallbar.com

3 LA COCINA DE FRIDA
The restaurant doubles as a shrine to Frida Kahlo, but the patio is what truly demands attention. This inviting wide space is surely the closest you’ll get to sipping margaritas outside a hacienda under the shade of fruit trees. 5403 N. Clark St.; 773-271-1907, lacocinadefrida.com

4 PICCOLO SOGNO
Benefiting from a far-reaching sycamore tree, every element of this dreamy deck is designed to calm. Partly enclosed for year-round dining, come summer just the walls come down—a perfect rainy-day destination. 464 N. Halsted St.; 312-421-0077, piccolosognorestaurant.com

5 C-VIEW
Located on the 29th floor of the Affinia Chicago, the 50-seat rooftop lounge feels fit for Ibiza. Two window-studded walls point west and south, and the open top lets you gaze, Champagne in hand, into the great blue yonder. 166 E. Superior St., 312-523-0923, c-houserestaurant.com

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Sunglasses and Scoops
 

1 HOMER’S RESTAURANT & HOMEMADE ICE CREAM
1237 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette; 847-251-0477, homersicecream.com

Best flavor: Prairie berry (blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, and red raspberry)
If you go: Bring an empty stomach. It’s also a burger and fries joint. The décor looks as if it hasn’t been remodeled since the mideighties, but the large parking lot is a plus.

 

2 GAYETY’S CHOCOLATES & ICE CREAM
3306 Ridge Rd., Lansing; 708-418-0062, gayetys.com

Best flavor: Butter pecan
If you go: Get a scoop from a server wearing an apron, sit in a heart-shaped chair, and wave goodbye to little girls in pigtails. And be sure to take home a pound of the shop’s chocolate almond clusters.

 

3 MITCHELL’S CANDIES & ICE CREAM
18211 Dixie Hwy., Homewood, 708-799-3835; 629 N. Wells St., 312-943-1124, featuredfoods.com

Best flavor: Chocolate chip
If you go: Prepare for a sugar overload; the place also carries gummies and chocolates. Mitchell’s dukes it out with Gayety’s as the best spot in the south suburbs. Our take? It’s a tossup.

 

4 BOBTAIL
2951 N. Broadway, 773-880-7372; 462 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-431-0230; 522 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-786-1014; 1114 Central Ave., Wilmette, 847-251-0174; bobtailicecream.com

Best flavor: Cappuccino crunch yogurt
If you go: Don’t count on eating in. The flagship store on Broadway is tiny, so take your cone for a walk.

 

5 CAPANNARI
10 S. Pine St., Mount Prospect; 847-392-2277, capannaris.com

Best flavor: Black raspberry chip
If you go: Note that this shop is a historical landmark—an old general store and post office built in 1882 and later moved to its current location. Not much seating inside, but a wraparound porch and a small paved park offer sturdy chairs and tables.

 

Photograph: Courtesy of C-House by Anthony Tahlier