Dating back to 1862 (when it sold green coffee), fine food producer Julius Meinl has transported its Viennese coffee to this Southport kaffeehaus
(the first of its kind in the U.S.; there's now a second location in Lincoln Square
). Each of its light, medium and dark roasted coffees are head and shoulders above Starbucks. Try the Meinl Espresso Spezial for a rich pick me up before the morning rush to work. If you need a surge before heading out on the town, try a shot of fresh espresso or the Vienna Ice Cream Kaffee. The coffee drinks average between $2 and $4, so you can grab a strudel to accompany without breaking the bank.
Meinl's casual yet refined coffee house atmosphere is perfect for second dates and after-dinner lattes. The pastry selection changes throughout the month and are worth every penny. The Mohr Im Hemd (Hot Molten Chocolate Cake) is designed for the chocolate connoisseur. Be sure to ask for a few glasses of milk with this one, it is one rich combination of chocolate.
Soups, salads and sandwiches are also available for lunch in the ballpark of $7 and continue in line with the European-inspired menu. The curried chicken salad sandwich and pear hazelnut salad are among my favorites. Meinl carries plentiful gift baskets ranging from $45-$95 if you're searching for that hard-to-buy gift for a friend.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Megen Briars