Kopi: A Traveler’s Cafe

I recently found myself up in the clean, boutique-y, stroller-packed neighborhood of Andersonville in my fair city of Chicago, at a place I haven’t been in many years and had thus forgotten about: Kopi, a Traveler’s Cafe. It seemed a little too fitting to wind up there while simultaneously trying to come up with an idea for one more post this week, so here we are.

The decor is reminiscent of a bazaar in some fantastic cross between Southeast Asia (the name, Kopi, is the Indonesian word for coffee), North Africa, and Central America. At the front window there is a raised seating area where the cool kids sit cross-legged on pillows at low tables. The rest of the tables, all painted with different designs, are small and packed closely together, ideal for sharing stories about your last trip or planning the next one. Throughout the cafe, pictures and crafts hang from the walls: Buddhas and dragons and chains of beads and strands of prayer flags. In the back, there is a small shop full of long, flowing dresses and brightly printed scarves. The whole space smells faintly of incense, and it feels like it’s only because of city ordinances that no one is smoking hookah. In other words, it brings to life the brainspace of a well-meaning if not entirely reality-based globetrotting hippie sort of person.

The menu reflects this as well: plenty of vegetarian options, lots of cheap choices including eggs, sandwiches, and salads, and an extensive tea list.

About the menu I can’t say much more, as I didn’t eat anything. (Look, this review was a spur of the moment decision, OK?) I did have a cup of creamy, fragrant, and surprisingly spicy Indian tea, which was perfect for the crisp fall day.

I sat and chatted with a fellow travel-mad friend and occasionally gazed longingly at the huge shelf full of Lonely Planet books and cursed my new job and consequent lack of an autumn trip this year. For right now, an afternoon in another neighborhood, in a space that tries and somewhat succeeds at being a haven apart from typical city bustle, is all I can manage.

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