Wicker Park and Bucktown arguably have 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 entry: The Map Room, 1949 N Hoyne, Chicago, IL
Who knew that one of the best places to grab a craft beer (and not just in Chicago, but probably in the country) is also a good place to get a coffee and pastries in the morning? Well, I’m guessing a number of people in the neighborhood do. In any case, there are some very good reasons to hit Map Room in the morning. So, let’s get to it.
Map room is located just a bit west of Damen on Armitage, and unlike a lot of good Chicago hang-outs, there is plenty of free street parking. Additionally, the crowd in the morning tends to be fairly spartan allowing for a nice atmosphere to get things accomplished. Also, they keep it local by serving Intelligentsia, which I respect.
Their drip coffee has been quite good. In fact, I like it better than some of the other places who also serve Intelligentsia. This gives me evidence that they take some care in making it. For espresso drinks, there is a pretty standard set that is well done and at very reasonable prices. I have had particularly good cappuccino there. Map Room also serves chai, hot tea (loose leaf, done in a steeping bag), pastries and sandwiches.
Overall, it’s a solid place to get a good coffee and enjoy the atmosphere at particularly good prices given the neighborhood. Plus, this place can get very crowded during beer serving hours (starting at 11:00 am) and getting coffee might be your best bet to make sure you have a seat when the taps get cranked up later in the day.