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in Humboldt Park or Division on the Blue line

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KnockBox Cafe

View Map1001 N. California Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 360-8325
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Editorial Review of KnockBox Cafe

There are already great excuses to head to the intersection of Augusta Boulevard and California Avenue during the evening (Rootstock) and late at night (California Clipper). Now you can while away the daytime hours at the independent coffeehouse KnockBox Cafe.

Located in the old Humboldt Pie space, KnockBox keeps all-day hours similar to its predecessor but sticks with the tried-and-true coffee shop menu. A full range of espresso drinks are offered, supplemented by 10 kinds of loose-leaf tea (which, like the coffee beans, are from Metropolis), as well as various sodas and juices. Lunch needs can be fulfilled by a half-dozen basic deli sandwiches made with Boar's Head meat, each of which comes with a side of cole slaw, fruit or - in attempt to win points for novelty, perhaps - applesauce. Breakfast is also available, with items like oatmeal, yogurt, breads from Red Hen and pastries baked on site using dough from Evanston's Sugar and Spice.

The coffee-sipping experience at KnockBox is enjoyable, due in part to employees eschewing the grumpy barista act in favor of genuine (and unobtrusive) amiability. The large, open space contributes, too. With brown linoleum floors, copper ceiling, and walls of various solid muted colors, there is an antique feel, although details like stylish track lighting keep it retro rather than old.

KnockBox opts for personal space over maximum seating, with eight tables, a couch and a couple cushioned chairs spread throughout the single room. There is, of course, wi-fi, which KnockBox gives away for free, and for the procrastination-prone, there are also a few board games available, so you can leave your personal copy of Sorry! at home.

Average cost: <$10

Centerstage Reviewer: Alexander Hough

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6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

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chicago, metromix