Bite Cafe feels like your neighborhood bar, offering comfort food in place of beer and a friendly wait staff instead of a bartender. Showcasing a different local artist every three months, Bite pays homage to its Chicago patrons. Head chef Brian Ferguson believes that "bare-bones staff" enables Bite to do what it does best: give its customers what they want. Need proof? About a year ago, the kitchen staff responded to the vegan demand (not to be confused with demanding vegans) by revamping Bite's menu with a plethora of vegan and veggie-friendly options like seitan sloppy Joes on cornbread and substitutions whenever possible.
Since expanding from its basic coffee house form to a full-service joint that serves breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch and dinner, the place has attracted a committed following of artists and locals. Stop by for breakfast, served from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and try the challah French toast ($5). Digest. Come back for lunch and sample the ham and Gruyere sandwich ($7).
Take a nap and get ready for dinner. The blackened catfish tacos, served with cascabel salsa, a side of red beans and brown rice ($8), are not to be missed. Top it all off with an array of dessert options baked by in-house baker Susie Gutenberg, who changes her sweets up twice a week. The peanut butter and chocolate mousse tart melts in your mouth. The menu evolves seasonally, so be sure to return to see what's new.
Just when you think Bite can't get any more perfect, you'll find a chalkboard sign alerting guests to the expanded wine list, compliments of the adjacent Empty Bottle bar. (For now the Bottle serves alcohol to Bite patrons, though you can also BYO.) Can't get much better than that. Bite truly is the shite. (I couldn't help myself).
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Emily Fiffer