If this cozy bakery/café offers what its name portends, the afterlife will be pretty sweet. Baked-from-scratch goods, including cakes, cookies, cupcakes and scones, are the real draw, but the weekend brunch (served until 3pm) offers favorites like buttermilk pancakes and a breakfast burrito. Lunch and dinner focus on salads, sandwiches and a small selection of comfort entrées like chicken and biscuits, spinach lasagna and meatloaf—all made with reliably fresh ingredients.
Andersonville is nuts about this coffee shop, which offers a colorful variety of organic, sustainable menu items. The quiche selection, like a hearty wild mushroom pie, is definitely a draw, as are the handful of pastries and desserts. But it’s the smooth, expertly pulled shots of espresso and smart, mid-century modern design that make this the sexiest coffee shop on the block (even more so with a tasteful beer, cocktail and wine menu in the evenings).
The ice cream slinger sources frozen treats from Chocolate Shoppe from Madison, Wisconsin and turns them into all manner of sundaes. But don't worry about sugar overload—the ice creams are amazingly rich and creamy on their own. The food menu also includes hot panini, crêpes and waffles.
Doug Sohn’s influence looms large over Chicago, so it makes sense that Octavio Garcia and Juan Carlos Garcia, former Hot Doug’s cooks, took their knowledge and opened Hot “G” Dog, basically reincarnating the original. Duck fat fries are still served on the weekends, and you can find rotating sausage specials, like a recent roasted garlic lamb sausage with feta and fried onions. The brat, split in two and grilled, is marvelous when piled with mustard, onions and sauerkraut. The upside: Lines are much, much shorter.
With its third Chicago location, Philadelphia-based La Colombe continues to win us over with great roasts. Hungry? Grab a chocolate almond croissant from Floriole or scone from Baker & Nosh. The spice is bright and open, with a mix of wooden benches, stools and tables for seating. La Colombe doesn't offer Wi-Fi, so bring along a friend or a book.
Load up on Middle Eastern food on the cheap at this wonderful bakery and grocery store. Besides great values on coffee, nuts and dried fruits, all sold by the pound, cases lining the wall are stuffed with a wide variety of hummus, grape leaves and spicy baba ghanoush. A counter in back serves premade savory hand pies, like artichoke and cheese in a flaky crust.
With its old-school layer cakes and sprinkle-clad butter cookies, this Andersonville fixture delivers nostalgia, one treat at a time. Among the shop’s best sellers is the Princess Torte, three layers of light-as-air yellow cake separated by strata of whipped cream and vanilla custard and wrapped in sweet marzipan. Want just a taste? Many of the bakery’s cakes are available by the slice.
The tiny, no-frills Middle Eastern spot serves excellent versions of the classics. The lentil soup has an addictive peppery flavor, and it threatens to fill you up. But leave room for the creamy baba ghanoush and hummus, and especially for the lamb kebab wrap, a thin pita stuffed with full-flavored ground-lamb patty, parsley and tahini. Remember to bring cash, since you won't want to leave without a piece of sweet baklava.
Find more of the best cheap eats in Chicago
Find cheap food around the city, from a plate of affordable oysters at a seafood restaurant or fantastic tacos.