Comfy, chill and dimly-lit, Oak Park
's Eastgate Cafe has the artistic prowess and character to fit in Chicago's trendiest neighborhoods, but still retains some of the comfort and class of a suburban venue. Located in the heart of Oak Park's substantial art district, Eastgate clearly has a friendly, open relationship with local artisans, and provides an overdue tea (or coffee/booze) break for the weary art shopper.
Places like this can succeed or fail based solely on coffee, and Eastgate's brew should certainly help the cafe survive: mild, smooth flavor in a pastel-colored bottomless mug for $1.89. Heineken, Budweiser, Miller High Life and Ceylon green, gray, black and red tea are drink options at opposite ends of the spectrum. Don't neglect Eastgate as a lunch/dinner option, as a nice selection of salads (Mandarin orange, Mediterranean with feta cheese) and sandwiches (black angus roast beef, marinated chicken breast) are well-composed and well-presented at $5-$7.
Eastgate doubles as a gift shop, offering cocoa, coffee, culinary books, coffee mugs, silverware, spices, etc., as well as some of the photography/paintings on the wall. Fake candles, hardwood floors and coat racks highlight the seating area, a typically hushed room that could pass as a solid study area.
Should you come on the weekend, there may be book readings and/or live musicians. When this reviewer stopped by, a husband-wife acoustic-wielding duo had the floor, harmoniously singing songs about a mid-life crisis (something about trying to be like Dennis Hopper), and imploring all the other middle-agers in the cafe to sing-a-long. Plan accordingly.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert