Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea: Innovative Beverages, Modern Decor
Beverage Quality: ★★★★★
Affordability rating: ★★★★
Overall rating: ★★★★★
This is probably my favorite coffee shops in the Wicker Park area. The ambience is bright and modern, which is great for doing work. The baristas are very friendly, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. They aren’t too cool to help you like a lot of other places around here. They also have beverages that are unique and you can’t find at other coffee shops. Fairgrounds has a great balance of tea, juices, and coffee drinks, that combine eclectic ingredients together to create a mixture of gorgeous flavors.
When we came here we split a couple of drinks. The barista also let us sample their elixirs/beverages on draft, which was really fun. We got the Vosges Coconut Charcoal Elixir and it was marvelous. There were chunks of real coconut in there with a complex chocolate flavor, coconut water, and charcoal. It tasted unlike anything I’ve ever had before. It was like a coconut hot chocolate but a healthier version of it.
We also ordered their Jungle Juice, which was an iced drink with a strong mango flavor (if you like mango, you’ll like this), cayenne, turmeric, and saffron. The other favors were pretty subtle compared to the mango but they made the mango less sweet.
There are so many other beverages on the menu that I’d like to try! I also would like to try their food. I am looking forward to coming back here!
La Boulangerie: Get Your Crepe On
Neighborhood: Logan Square
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★
Food Quality: ★★★★1/2
Overall Rating: ★★★★1/2
- Meals/Snacks: Smoked Salmon Crepe and Brie Croissant Sandwich
- Dessert: Almond Croissant
Logan Square now has a charming, French Boulangerie for one to reminisce about being in France, drink coffee, and eat delicious food. The counter is surrounded by gorgeous French pastries and bread. It’s basically a Parisian dream in Logan Square. I find it hard to find affordable French food in Chicago. While there are some remarkable French restaurants in Chicago, most of them are quite pricey and you can’t really have an affordable, casual lunch there. Sometimes I just want a savory crepe or croissant sandwich and I was able to find that here.
La Boulangerie is a small, cozy and modern looking Parisian boulangerie with a wide assortment of traditional French pastries, breads, coffee, and tea. They also have some substantial lunch items like sandwiches and savory crepes. I am a big fan of savory crepes and and while they weren’t on the menu at this specific location they let us customize the crepe to our liking. So we ordered the Atlantic sandwich in the style of a savory crepe. It came with smoked salmon, horseradish aioli, red onions, greens, a hard boiled egg chopped up inside, and an over-easy egg on top. The crepe was a wheat crepe so it was hard to cut up at times but it was worth the difficulty since wheat flour tends to be healthier than white flour. All of the flavors went really well together in the crepe – you can’t really go wrong with smoked salmon and the horseradish aioli gave it a nice little kick but didn’t dominate the crepe. The yolk from the over-easy egg oozed out deliciousness and was soaked up perfectly by the wheat crepe. It also came with some mixed greens drizzled with a light, zesty dijon vinaigrette, which was tasty. There was a bit of balsamic drizzled on the side of the crepe creating not only a delectable meal but an aesthetically pleasing plate.
We also tried their sandwich of the day, which we had on a croissant. The croissant was flaky and moist with caramelized onions and brie. Quite simple, but quite delicious. Can you really go wrong with caramelized onions and brie? I don’t think you can. But the onions were perfectly caramelized though. We decided to take a sweet almond croissant for the road. It was crispy, flaky, and moist with a stimulating almond flavor to complement all of the savory delights. I can’t wait to come back here to have another delicious lunch or snack while getting some necessary work done in a quiet, clean environment.
Katherine Anne Confections: A Delightful and Warm Break from the Winter Tundra
Neighborhood: Logan Square
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Food and Beverage Quality: ★★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★★
I haven’t really been a fan of hot chocolate until the past few months when I discovered gourmet hot chocolate places like Mindy’s Hot Chocolate and Katherine Anne Confections. While I do love Mindy’s, they are so well known and you can’t really sit there and drink hot chocolate unless you eat at the restaurant and I’d rather focus on a place that is not as hyped up.
Katherine Anne Confections is a cute, small cafe in Logan Square that has a fabulous assortment of chocolate truffles, candies, hot chocolates, and surprisingly sandwiches. After being gifted a box of chocolate truffles from here, I can’t go back to eating truffles that can be found at Walgreens even though that makes me sound super bourgie. These truffles are fresh and heavenly. They have unique combinations like goat cheese walnut, which literally melt in your mouth.
I came here for the hot chocolate though so I wasn’t going to ruin my hot chocolate appetite with anything else. They have an excellent variety of hot chocolates and have an extensive vegan menu. They are really great about customizing options so even if you are okay having milk chocolate but don’t want regular milk, they can make it with Almond milk. Their vegan options were not an after thought and I was impressed at how they took great care with presenting truly great options for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant. Many hot chocolate places don’t let you customize so this was refreshing. The service was exemplary. Upon walking in we were greeted by a few friendly faces and it didn’t feel fake. They were very receptive to any questions we had and checked on us after we had the hot chocolate to make sure we were happy.
We ordered from the vegan menu and got the Mexican Hot Chocolate and the Mocha Hazelnut Hot Chocolate. They also let you select which marshmallows you’d like in your beverage so I picked the cinnamon for the Mexican Hot Chocolate and vanilla for the Mocha Hazelnut Hot chocolate.
The Mexican Hot Chocolate had a refreshing spice to it. It was thick and decadent, but not as guilt-provoking since it was vegan and made with Almond milk. The chocolate was sweet but it complemented the spice really well. They also sprinkled some peppercorn on there to add even more of a zest on top of the cinnamon marshmallow.
The Mocha Hazelnut Hot Chocolate was a nice companion to the Mexican Hot Chocolate because it was milder so if the spice was too much, you could take a break with the Mocha Hazelnut. This hot chocolate was also vegan and not super sweet but still thick and decadent. The hazelnut flavor was prominent but everything was very well balanced. The vanilla marshmallow melted perfectly in the hot chocolate and was served with two candied walnuts, which added a tasty crunch to the soft marshmallow.
The portions are pretty large and you might either want to split it with someone ($7 for the smallest size, which is what we had) or do the tasting menu ($9, which includes 3 hot chocolates of your choice). One of these can feel like a meal!
Maybe hot chocolate isn’t your thing? They do have three sandwiches here and one of them is a vegetarian option. The Bahn Mi looked intriguing and if I do need something savory to balance the sweetness, I just might try it. Their cafe curates a warm, neighborhood feel where you can sit and talk to a dear friend or sit alone, observe and/or read as you sip on delicious hot chocolate. I will definitely be back here to try more of their hot chocolate. It has a true neighborhood feel to it.
Tea Quality: ★★★★★
Affordability rating: ★★★★
Overall rating: ★★★★★
I am so happy to see a real teahouse open up in this part of Chicago. We have a lot of great coffeeshops to choose from but no real teahouses. The teahouse is structured in a way where you walk in, are greeted at the counter, and can sit at the tea bar or in the back with the interesting art for more privacy. I love the aesthetic of this place. It’s very modern and clean, with a lot of beech wood and white color.
I am a big tea fan and tea drinker so I was very excited to finally try this place out. They have a great selection of tea from China and Japan that are authentic and undiluted with sugar. More specifically they have black tea, green tea, and white tea. They use the real tea leaves and make sure that the tea is steeped to perfection. They also have really cute mugs and teapots.
The service was great as well since they are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what they have. The owner was really friendly and talked to us about the tea. I look forward to seeing this place unfold and emerge.
I cannot wait to come back here to hang out and try more tea! This was perfect for a post-workout drink on a rainy day.