You'll feel a bit like Alice in Library-land at Bourgeois Pig: Curious trinkets mingle with heavy tomes that line the space's bookshelves. Beneath crystal chandeliers, old coca cola cartons, hanging washboards and gas lamps lend old-fashioned charm to the cafe. A Singer sewing machine holds beans for sale, and a giant claw foot tub in the bathroom ensures that the down-home detail extends to every corner.
Tea-sippin' profs from nearby De Paul lend an intellectual air (eavesdrop on your table mates if you want to learn something about the Industrial Revolution). Even the Pig's sandwiches and salads seem to have majored in English: the Reuben is called Catcher in the Rye and the goat cheese and cherry salad is a Midsummer Night's Dream. A second level provides cozy and collegiate nooks for reading: Expect deep red and green walls, a fireplace, more chandeliers and views of the neighborhood's rooftops, all set off with a classical soundtrack. In the fairer months, an upstairs patio and sidewalk seating provide perfect spaces for reading Shakespeare and downing lattes in the sun.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg