Archive for Chicago Diner

Kopi – A Traveler’s Cafe

Posted in Cafe with tags , , , , on May 4, 2008 by Robb Olson

Kopi Cup
Kopi – A Traveler’s Cafe
5317 N Clark St, Chicago IL 60640
773-989-KOPI (5674)

The Breakdown:
Hours: Mon thru Thurs: 8am – 11pm Fri: 8am – 12am Sat: 9am – 12am Sun: 10am – 11pm
Wi-Fi: No.
Fair Trade: In Spades.
Vegan/Vegetarian Friendly: Almost exclusively vegetarian – vegan friendly (including Chicago Diner vegan baked goods)
Menu: Full Menu
Outdoor seating: Weather Permitting
Public Trans: Near Clark, Damon, Broadway buses, Red Line, Metra.

My eats: Large Mexican Latte, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie, Sunshine on a Shingle.
Avoiding the Mermaid: Thankfully, Starbucks is rare in Andersonville, but Kopi makes it easy to dodge the nearest one, a half block south.

It may seem a little lame to make the first review be of a cafe in my own back yard, but at the same time it makes sense.

Kopi is located in Andersonville, a neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. Andersonville does double duty as a Swedish neighborhood, and also one of two gay neighborhoods in Chicago. With the main shopping vein of the ‘hood situated on Clark St, Andersonville is a pretty popular spot to hit on the weekends, and what’s great about it is it’s still cheap to live in, and not yet overrun by Potbelly sandwich shops and Baby Gap stores. Kopi, situated in the heart of all the action, takes advantage of Andersonville’s still indie feel, but ever growing, thriving culture and night life.

There’s a reason they call it the traveler’s cafe. Kopi’s decor sports a dozen or so clocks on the wall, all timed to different cities around the world. The counter area has currency tacked up from all Africa, Europe, Asia, practically everything but the US, and there are shelves lining one wall, sporting mostly Lonely Planet guide books to almost any country you could imagine. And if that weren’t enough, there’s an entire space in the back dedicated to selling hippie clothes and accessories which, of course, have a distinct international theme.

Beyond all of that, there is an ever rotating collection of local art hanging on the walls, available for purchase, and usually at reasonable prices.

There’s a dozen or so tables inside, and a handful of floor level tables with cushions on the floor for seats in the front window. In good weather, they have a handful of tables out on the sidewalk as well. When it’s busy, you can bet on a small wait, but never anything unreasonable. I’ve never balked at the wait.

They sport a full (And mostly Vegetarian – only certain menu items contain fish, that’s the only meat you’ll find here) menu including breakfast and entrees that are ethnically diverse, running the gamut from a huge Veggie Burrito to selections of imported cheeses, and my current favorite – a vegetarian biscuits and gravy called “Sunshine on a Shingle”.

The Coffee menu is similarly diverse, offering the basic drip coffees and espresso drinks, but expanding out to items like Mexican Lattes (hot chocolate with espresso). They also offer an impressive tea selection, and sell coffee bagged, most of it – if not all – is fair trade/organic/shade grown. The trifecta of coffee Karma.

When you’re done drinking in the decor and the stomach-rumble inducing aromas, you’ll get typically good service from a generally personable staff. Mostly twenty-somethings deliver you a quirky and fun experience. If it’s not talking tattoos while taking your order, it’s encouraging you to vote for them in the month-long Moustache contest.

Overall, Kopi is a must for the traveling caffeine lover. Service is usually spot on, though on occasion i’ve had my drink delivered as a 16oz rather than the expected 20oz size. Be specific when placing your to go orders, seems a recent addition of the 20oz size is causing some confusion amongst the old guard. But it’s nothing that can be held against what I consider one of the best coffee shops I’ve been to.