In a market dominated by a Starbucks every three blocks, an independent coffee shop needs to do something to stand out. That's what Mike Pilkington has been doing at his quaint, inviting corner coffeehouse located in Bridgeport's western edge. Walk in and you'll find comfortable, worn-in couches, plenty of tables, rotating displays from local artists, painted tin ceilings, ample display cases and a knowledgeable, friendly staff. Everyone from White Sox fans grabbing a quick bite to long-time neighborhood residents and recent transplants can enjoy a cup of joe on the patio.
Pilkington selects and roasts all of the beans himself with a commercial roaster he uses in the Bridgeport-based Filbert's Soda plant. His roasts taste rich and bring out the natural character of the coffee without the scorched earth flavor of a Starbucks blend. One of the favorites, the "Bubbly Creek Blend," combines Indonesian and Central American beans; Pilkington named it after the famed Chicago River tributary and former stockyard carcass dumping location. The cafe also sells a broad assortment of Adagio teas, buys fair trade as much as possible and has a thriving wholesale business.
The food here is tasty no-nonsense coffee-shop fare. You'll find a great selection of cookies, doughnuts, pastries and bagels. Must-have sandwiches here include the pizza bagel (topped with provolone, pepperoni, tomato and onion for $3.25) and the roast beef and provolone. All of the sandwiches come toasted and with a bag of chips, and Bridgeport has free wi-fi for those who can't stay away from their laptops.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Chuck Sudo