can still feel like a bit of a far flung outpost. For many Chicagoans acclimated to our neighborhoods along the lake, the wilderness begins at Western. Albany Park, in contrast to the boutiques and familiar chain stores of Lincoln Park
and Wicker Park
, offers a version of Chicago still untouched. Here, at the tail end of the Brown Line
, is indeed a Sweet Spot, and this is where owner Aquanetta (just Aquanetta, thank you) launched her small and bright cafe.
Unless you're looking for it, the Sweet Spot can be easy to overlook. A storefront gives way to a staircase leading to a tidy, and somehow sunlit, basement space. The cafe isn't huge - the counter alone takes up nearly half the area, and yet it doesn't feel at all cramped. One side features an area with a few tables for dining, and the other side is a more relaxed setup, with a couch, a play area for kids, and a small television/VCR armed with a library of videos, heavy on the Disney. It's not uncommon to see a nanny or two happily Facebooking the morning away while the kids are engrossed by some classic Snow White.
The menu is written on a chalkboard behind the counter, and except for a few standbys, changes occasionally. Ask for a recommendation, and Aquanetta won't let you talk yourself out of her lemon bars ($3) or her chocolate chip cookies ($2). She makes all her pastries herself, and she's proud - and should be, as her sweets are amazing, and pair well with coffee.
If you're not feeling the sugar, there are a few small plates available as well, such as a veggie platter for $6. The portions aren't huge, but you're mostly here for the hospitality, coffee and pastries anyway, and all of them, especially the friendly owner, have no problem hitting the Sweet Spot.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Bill Burman