"Mestizo" is a fitting moniker for this eclectic, versatile cafe that moonlights as a showcase for artists. The Gallos opened the corner coffeehouse in spring 2003 on a modest strip of Ashland and have since attracted a flock of jazz musicians and artists from the neighborhood and beyond. The cafe's mission is "to create a place where art, poetry and music could come together over a great cup of coffee," and it shows.
Artwork by local and international visual artists hang on a backdrop of electric blue, piercing yellow and hot red walls. Wednesday night is open mic night, with budding poets, musicians and comedians taking the stage to try their luck at amateur fame. Perhaps the best-known artsy venture at Mestizo is the burgeoning jazz jam session on Sundays from 6-9 p.m., hosted by Chicago jazz scene mavens Nicole Mitchell and David Boykin.
Choice menu items and daily specials include creative takes on Mexican and American traditions, like the Mexican corn on the cob (topped with mayonnaise, butter, salt, Mexican cheese and the ultra-spicy chili de arbol), the fresh Mexican fruit cocktail (watermelon, pineapple, grapes, papaya and honeydew sprinkled with lemon, salt and chili), the tamale oaxaquenos (spicy or mild tamales served in a banana leaf) and the horchata smoothie.
Centerstage Reviewer: M. Cecilia Wong