A beacon amongst the antique stores and pet food shops on this quiet strip of Devon Avenue, this cafe offers coffee, tea and decadent pastries in a bright, comfortable atmosphere replete with high ceilings, espresso bar seating and couches comfy and spacious enough to befit a suburban family's basement rec room.
Stella Espresso provides a down-home, kid-friendly feel, with piles of children's blocks and coloring books bordering the walls by the couches, right alongside stacks of dated Vogue magazines, fit for any weary Mom or Pop in need of a break (well, Pop might prefer one of the Vonnegut novels lounging nearby). Light-colored tiles and inoffensive pop music create an atmosphere of neighborhood leisure, a welcome change from library-esque cafes where chatting seems like a disturbance to patrons consumed by their laptops, books or both. If you are in the mood for surfing or working, take advantage of the free wi-fi and bar-type seating by the spacious windows near the entrance of the cafe, where you're likely to share space with a Loyola student or two.
Quality Intelligentisia beans guarantee delicious coffee and lattes, although they're a bit on the weak side compared to what's offered in the flagship Monadnock or Broadway stores. This makes sense, given the placidness of Stella's home at Devon and Lakewood, where crowds and hubbub seem a million miles away. Opt for a to-die-for chocolate cupcake or dainty sugar cookie to complement your coffee or tea (also Intelligentsia and in several flavors, including Earl Grey and Chamomile).
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: August Evans