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Lavazza (Washington)

View Map27 W. Washington St., Chicago
Tel: (312) 977-9971
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Editorial Review of Lavazza (Washington)

The famed Caffe Shakerato.
photo: courtesy of Lavazza
My morning dose of caffeine is usually inhaled (not so much savored) on-the-go in a grouchy, dripping-on-my-white-shirt rush. But when I stopped at Lavazza for the first time on my way to work, all I wanted to do was sit down and take a chill pill, figuratively speaking. I felt strangely civilized.

A European institution since the early 1900s, Lavazza is an internationally renowned master of espresso, serving up the usual coffeehouse favorites, from lattes to white chocolate mochas. But the list goes on from there, so if you're ready to shake things up European-style, start with one of about a dozen specialty espresso drinks ($2.49-$3.29). Fan favorites include the outrageously yummy Meringato (espresso, nutella, meringue and whipped cream), Cappugiro (an inverted cappuccino) and, my personal fave, the Caffe Shakerato (iced espresso with your choice of flavors).

Breakfast lovers will also find fresh-squeezed OJ, a juice shake (the same great OJ plus your choice of fruit sorbet, blended with ice) and the Blendissimo (coffee, gelato and your choice of flavors like caramel and hazelnut). If you decide to stay and sip in the cafe, you're in for a treat. Every drink is beautifully presented (my Shakerato arrived in a martini glass) and hand-delivered to your table.

In addition to the remarkable roster of liquids, Lavazza makes some mean solids, too. The croissants, muffins, scones, poundcakes (try the lemon, oh my...), cookies and biscotti are baked fresh every day. Lunch items, which are made to order, include sandwiches on a baguette or grilled focaccia, paninis and salads. For dessert, the gelato bar is best.

Average cost: <$10

Centerstage Reviewer: Natalie Goldstein

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6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday

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