Around the World in Three Cafes

I’m a start-up cat wrangler of middling success these days, and one of the only perks of the job (in addition to being part of something incredibly exciting and meaningful I SUPPOSE) is that my workspace is flexible. So flexible, in fact, that yesterday I worked in Portland, Paris, and Vienna, all without leaving the North Side of Chicago.

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Local art, exposed brick–what else do you want in your coffeeshop?

My first stop of the day felt Portland-esque: Lincoln Square’s the Grind, which is tiny and exposed-bricked and has friendly baristas who wear bandanas and cute vintage dresses. I ate a natural-peanut-butter-and-banana bagel and drank too much coffee and listened to Bonnie Prince Billy. It was a little overcast outside the big windows, which completed the Northwest picture.

Next I moved on to the Bourgeois Pig in Lincoln Park, where I check in with my interns weekly. I’ll often get the salade nicoise, but yesteday I only had an iced tea, which was not Parisian at all. Still, the place has the right Frenchy sort of vibe, in that I always feel slightly smarter and cooler and just generally superior while I’m there. It’s dark and small, with a really nice patio that does remind me a lot of the sidewalk seating you find in Parisian cafes.

Finally, I went to Julius Meinl for a late lunch. This place is so authentically Viennese that they actually had the furnishings of the cafe imported from Austria. I had the traditional Viennese coffee, the melange, which is served very properly on a silver tray with a glass of water and a cookie.

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At that point, I was both weary from globetrotting and also completely over-caffeinated, so I stumbled my way home. Home, of course, being somewhere at the crossroads of Mexico, Korea, Lebanon, Colombia, and Iraq, but that’s a story for another day.


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