This neighborhood standard for coffee, lunch and snacks in Ravenswood, Chicago is conveniently located directly under the Montrose Brown Line L stop and right around the corner from my work. They open in the wee hours of the morning to cater to the early loop commuters and offer not only your typical breakfast-on-the-go fare (bagels, muffins, scones, fruit salads, yogurt and a wide array of caffeinated beverages), but also a great lunch menu.

There is always some kind of pasta salad and a single choice for soup, which is decent but certainly not the place's selling point. The sandwiches, however, are to die for. I suppose the choices are typical; your basic veggie, Italian, tuna, roast beer, corned beef, turkey, or creative combination of the above. But three things make these sandwiches the best in the hood:
  • Their breads. You have your choice between an array of 5 or 6 delicious breads, from a sesame-encrusted roll as big as your face, to the house specialty flatbread.
  • The old-skool press toaster. Those who know what's up order their sandwich toasted. Then the whole thing is assembled first and then placed in a waffle-like structure with a lid that is pressed down, in a way sealing your sandwich by toasting the top and bottom and melting the cheese over everything in between. The sesames on the sesame roll turn a golden brown. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
  • The staff. Darren, the owner, is a completely nice guy who has pictures of his newborn son plastered across the espresso machine so we can all watch his growth. His staff is 'eccentric', to say the least. The widest array of piercing, tattoo, outragious hairstyle and alternative lifestyle combinations are represented by the place. Everyone who works there knows every regular customer by name. Every sandwich is happily made to order. Any random treats they happen to be experimenting with are readily shared. They're just genuinely nice, fun people. This, above all others, is the reason why the Starbucks that just opened down the street has no chance of putting these guys out of business.

back to Stylee's Guide to Chicago Restaurants

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