One of Hyde Park's few independent, locally-owned coffee shops, Third World Cafe gestures by its name toward distant utopian settings where farmers get a fair price for their coffee beans. The suggestion is not misleading—the coffee here comes from Alterra, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, fair-trade roaster. Beyond the "Fair Trade Certified" sticker on the register, though, there is a slight inconsistency between this nondescript coffeehouse and its moniker.
As it stands, Third World is a laptop-lover's haven where friendly chats are less the norm than the exception. Small tables and comfy chairs provide ample work space, and the intellectual stuffiness is softened by bright artwork and soothing yellow lights poised next to floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer excellent light and an unhindered view of the heart of Hyde Park.
What Third World lacks in ambiance it makes up for in the kitchen. Stop in for a breakfast sandwich, muffin or lox bagel in the morning (save on an "early bird" coffee or latte/pastry combo before 10 a.m.); later on, opt for the Mediterranean sandwich or tuna melt. Vegetarians will favor the Gardenburger™ sandwich ($6.75) and the "Make Your Own Salad" option ($8.00), where you pick five exotic toppings, from walnuts to jalapenos. Homemade hummus—on a sandwich or with pita and veggies—appeals to all tastes.
Music is unpredictable—sometimes blaring, sometimes absent. This, combined with the library-esque vibe, makes Third World fairly unappealing for get-togethers; you're likely to stand out. But if you're looking to cozy up to type or read in antisocial oblivion, you're not likely to be disturbed.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: August Evans
Third World Cafe was mentioned in these articles...
Irena Knezevic, 4/21/08
The Hyde Park-based artist's work will be on display at the MCA through April 27.