Wicker Park arguably has the best neighborhood selection of coffee places in Chicago. Options abound from the ubiquitous Dunkin’ Donuts/Starbucks (they don’t deserve a spot in this review because plenty has been written about both of these places) to one of the only outposts in the midwest (Bagel on Damen) that has the much revered Stumptown coffee.
Here is a rundown of what’s out there and what each brings to the table for today’s discerning coffee drinker and/or anyone that’s ready to break away from the bigger names in coffee. This tour is necessary because those unfamiliar with the neighborhood may not be aware that the place with the best drip coffee (for me, Bagel on Damen) doesn’t have any kind of cappucino to offer. The ins and outs of the local establishments are, for lack of a better word, kind of complex.
Today’s Selection: The Wormhole
I would guess that the vast majority of people in the neighborhood do not know this place by name. However, if you say “The one with the Delorean” they know exactly what you are talking about. The Delorean in the window and 80’s decor has resulted in The Wormhole having the exact clientele you would expect, which is completely opposite of ironic. Said clientele might not get that (now, there’s some irony for you). The new website is definitely committed to the vibe of the place. However, it’s a little easier to decipher after you have your coffee (which might be counterproductive for them).
The Wormhole was started by former IT pros that built a computer server company in Iowa. I guess this is the midwest version of the silicon valley millionaire. Instead of producing movies, dating actresses and being all over Hollywood, they opened a coffee shop with movie posters.
Coffee beverages at The Wormhole are pretty good, but not great. The baristas do consistently seem to be disinterested in what they are doing and in serving customers, but it turns out fine. Overall, the drip coffee is above average and the espresso drinks are competent. I wouldn’t rate either as the best in the neighborhood, though. I hear that the iced chai is excellent, but chai isn’t my thing, so I cannot vouch for it. The food includes fairly standard coffee house noshes.