Located within the Oak Park Arts District, Buzz Cafe has fed and caffeinated arts lovers since 1998. If you're not an Oak Park native, you'll still get plenty of love in this comfy cafe, but expect to feast on a bit of suburban pride as well. Paintings and photography by local artists hang on the green and purple walls; area bands bring the cafe to life on Friday and Saturday nights, and nearby bakeries supply some of the desserts (like the light, creamy cheesecake).
The menu runs from snackable shortbread cookies and soup to a belly-busting one-third pound organic burger topped with cheese, onions and garlic grilled mushrooms. Look for plenty of organic and vegetarian options among the appetizers, salads, sandwiches and breakfast options, in addition to the usual espresso drinks, coffee and tea.
A warm wedge of brie stuffed with raspberry walnut filling is particularly popular among the groups that gather regularly for conversation, including members of a knitting group and attendees of story time and Spanish conversation hour. But even when a group is gabbing, the spacious interior means there's room to snuggle into a corner solo. Just don't be surprised when one of the owners or any of their three kids comes wandering up to welcome you.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Rockwood