"Soup is the essence of its ingredients," says Bucktown Soup Cafe owner Dino Agudo. "It's literally the merit of whatever ingredients you put into it. The purest form of food."
The 90 recipes of soups at this new Bucktown lunch joint certainly have merit, and good taste. On any given day, the nine black pots behind the counter (samples are available) feature creations like the smooth sweet tomato asiago, the hearty Michigan mushroom barley, the spicy seafood gumbo, the kickin' crab with sweet corn, the cornucopias Medici minestrone, the fire roasted vegetable or my favorite, the Jim Beam chili — strips of steak flavored with bourbon. Dino's soups aren't too filling, so they fit either warm weather or cold weather. And for 12-ounce cups at $4.50-$7 or 16-ounce portions at $5.65-$8, these aren't exorbitant prices for lunch or an earlier dinner.
Dino learned to love soup while he was a starving law student living in Manhattan and living on soup cafes. So naturally, after passing the bar and working as an assistant state's attorney, he had to start his own soup cafe. Though Dino sometimes misses the camaraderie and mental jousting in the courtroom — especially when attorneys he knows visit Bucktown Soup Cafe, he feels much more at peace these days. Certainly, the creative and delicious tastes he's created here have something to do with that.
Bucktown Soup Cafe employs chefs who are students at local culinary academies (so feel free to talk taste with them) and also offers egg-free cookies and brownies ($3.10) by Kayla's Treats. Dino promotes independent local artists by displaying their work on the walls. The interior of his cafe is well lit and open. As long as you buy soup, you're welcome to bring your own sandwich or salad.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Jacob Wheeler