Too warm for hot chocolate, still a little chilly for shakes...what's a good springtime drink? Juice, of course! Go out on a limb and try one of these to liven up your brunch routine.
A taste of honey at Meli
True to its name, Greektown's Meli includes honey in many of its juices, and judging by the signs on the walls, the stuff's probably from Greece. Traditional juice blends (if celery, apple, and carrot can be called traditional) are offset by sweeter choices that are akin to smoothies. The orange, banana, strawberry and honey is thick and substantial, with a golden layer of honey at the bottom providing most of the sweetness. If you prefer a drink with more zing, try the white cabbage, wheat grass, kiwi, mango, strawberry and honey. The kiwi and wheat grass make a tangy pair, while the other fruits and veggies fill out the flavor. Top that off with artful presentation and a sunny atmosphere, and you're as close as they come to Mediterranean in the Windy City.
Exotic concoctions at Karyn's Fresh Corner
This raw food-focused Lincoln Park cafe is the original outpost of the Karyn's trio, which also includes Karyn's Cooked and Karyn's on Green. Prices are high, but the fruit and veggie combinations are not to be taken lightly. Those who need an injection of pure veggies might want to go for the Peaceful Warrior, a mixture of carrot, kale, spinach, cucumber and celery. But if "juice" means “sweet” to you, Karyn's has some good things going on with lemon, like the Summer Cooler (carrot, apple, and lemon) and the disconcertingly named Blood (apple, beet, lemon, and ginger). The Cooler's carrot blends well in a thick juice that leaves a curiously citrusy aftertaste. Blood is less sweet, smoother, and its omnipresent beet taste sits underneath the more common apple, lemon and ginger. Even without any additional ingredients, these are surprisingly filling juices; that raw vegan lemon square may have to wait 'til next time.
Extraordinary orange juices at Over Easy Cafe
Beloved brunch spot Over Easy, near Lincoln Square, doesn't believe in keeping it simple. Its creative flair is more than apparent in blueberry pancakes filled with granola, cannoli French toast, and the infamous chorizo-potato-cheddar-etcetera Sassy Eggs. It even extends to the orange juice, which doesn't stop at fresh-squeezed. Why drink plain old OJ when you could get yours "freckled" with tiny strawberry specks or blackberry puree? Sweet and tart at once, the strawberry is the clear winner, but the blackberry holds its own, too. Add in Julius Meinl
coffee and immaculate service, and you've got yourself anything but an ordinary breakfast.
Keep it chill at Kopi Cafe
In a world where Starbucks-style corporate minimalism rules the roast - excuse us, the roost - Kopi brings a much-needed breath of earthiness to the cafe scene. Billing itself as a "traveler's cafe," this Andersonville mainstay has been offering a variety of teas (yes, you can get your yerba mate here), hummus-filled sandwiches and vegan treats for years. In the juice category, the Dr. Pucker offers a straight-to-the-brain lemon freeze, more tart than sugary (hey, it's in the name), with a layer of crushed slushy ice on top. There's also Gilligan's Lemonade, which provides a sweet counterpoint with a mix of coconut and fresh-squeezed lemonade. In true Kopi fashion, the coconut avoids that fake-sunscreen taste, warming up the coolness of the lemon. After a long Chicago winter, kicking back with one of these lemonades and cracking the spine on a Lonely Planet guide might be just the thing.