With so many coffeehouses in Chicago, some of them have come up with compelling and/or unique ways to keep or lure patrons.
Count Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea (multiple locations; Fairgrounds.cafe) as one of those coffeehouses. Sure, the Wicker Park location a friend and I visited certainly had that homey, friendly, familiar coffeehouse feel. However, this spot certainly distinguishes itself with some inviting items, thanks to a new menu.
One of the things to like is that there's something for everyone (and there are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options). Breakfast options include tasty and slightly spicy sammies (thanks to sport pepper aioli) that have egg and cheese, with the possible addition of chicken apple sausage and bacon. My friend really liked his Bad Hass avocado toast (which includes ancho-toasted sunflower seeds and multigrain bread).
There are other breakfast choices (called "opening acts" on the menu), such as the Mama Told Me Acai Bowl (with acai, strawberry, blueberry, banana, granola and coconut), Master of Naan (scrambled egg whites, shakshuka spread, baby kale, feta cheese and naan) and the Goldie's Lox Platter.
In addition, there are "the headliners." Shakshuka shows up in dishes such as the All "Shuk" Up Cauli shawarma salad and wrap, but there are also the Hearty Turkey & Havarti sandwich, the Shake Down Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup and the St. Stephen's Salmon BLT. There are even sides ("The Sideshow") like The Bluebird fruit cup, ancho-roasted potatoes and Mary Jane's Morning Greens. (By the way, Fairgrounds also has funnel-cake fries, which I'll have to try during my next visit.)
And Fairgrounds certainly lives up to the "Coffee & Tea" in the spot's name. There's an espresso-and-matcha bar as well as a brew bar with coffees from around the country, including Chicago's Four Letter Word. In addition, there's a very nice selection of teas (e.g., turmeric mango, mystic mint, coconut oolong and China breakfast)and Fairgrounds can even arrange a flight of coffees and teas ($6.49 for three four-ounce pours).
However, this place could be a nightmare for the indecisive because there are also some other very good drinks ("elixirs"). Try to ignore a Vosges hot chocolate (with caramel marshmallow) on a crisp fall day. There are also items like the Power Flower milk tea, seasonal favorite the autumn spice latte and the sticky chai lattea delicious concoction consisting of fresh chai soaked in buckwheat honey.
If you get a chance, visit Fairgrounds. It's almost guaranteed that you'll find something you'll like.