Any dessert connoisseur worth their salt knows that Chicago is the proud home of Eli's Cheesecake. This rich, world-renowned delight has made appearances in numerous grocer's freezers, restaurants and arena concession stands, and continues to please palates and expand waistlines throughout the Windy City.
What they might have missed, however, is the fact that Chicago also plays host to Eli's corporate headquarters. This wouldn't be all that significant, aside from the fact that the office space includes a must-visit dessert cafe/discount cheesecake emporium.
Discreetly located in an industrial park on the Northwest Side, Eli's Cheesecake World is the perfect destination for tourists and dairy lovers alike. This airy, inviting cafe uses murals to pay tribute to Eli's accomplishments, detailing names and faces of noteworthy fans such as Jay Leno and Bill Clinton. It also offers insight into how these treats are made, with group or individual bakery tours and a regular schedule of hands-on workshops. Several tour packages are available with reservations, and children's party events can also be scheduled.
But what if you just want to eat? No problem there, the only dilemma is whether to take out or dine in. You can choose from more than 30 kinds of cheesecake offered in the regular freezer case, or take home a Sweet Imperfection at a deep discount. Enjoy a fresh espresso in-house along with your favorite treat, whether you fancy traditional creamy treats, brownies or even a fresh sandwich. You could even eat for free if you don't call much attention to yourself; bakery attendants are constantly putting out fresh samples, and there's also a water cooler with complimentary paper cups. Chances are you'll want a full dessert, though; it's hard to enjoy gourmet cheesecake without stuffing yourself silly.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Jenny Seay