90 Miles Cuban Cafe
(3101 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago, 772.248.2822)
It may be only 90 miles that separate Havana from Key West, Florida, but it’s over 1,300 miles that separate the city of Chicago and the Carribean nation, which is why it’s such an anomaly to find so many great Cuban coffeehouses here. One of the best is the eponymous 90 Miles Cuban Cafe, a small establishment between Clybourn and Belmont Avenues (we’re referring to the first location). The food meets the standards of even the finickiest Cuban-food purists, and the coffee is comparable to anything they serve on South Beach. Plus, their rich, sweet café con leche comes in an iced version, so it can be enjoyed in either winter or summer.
Efebina’s Internet Cafe
(1640 S. Blue Island Ave., Chicago, 312.243.9790)
The name may come from the Greek word for “young adult“, but Efebina’s clientele and theme is predominantly Latin. With a different vibe from other Pilsen coffee shops like Jumping Bean and Cafe Mestizo, Efebina’s is big and spacious with a friendly staff, free (but slow) Internet access and some bangin’ coffee, made from locally roasted beans. They also sell what they call a “Maria Cake“, a layer cake made with crumbled Galletas Marias.
(2970 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773.698.6867)
Named after the setting of legendary Colombian Nobel Prize Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘s magnum opus One Hundred Years of Solitude, Macondo‘s coffee is so good, you would think it came straight out of a magical realist novel. But it’s not just the coffee that they should be famous for, as they serve excellent Colombian dishes for unbelievably low prices ($4.00 for an ajiaco!) as well as fantastically-crunchy-fried empanadas.
(2555 N. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, 773.235.2555)
Another tiny Cuban restaurant, El Cubanito is similar to 90 miles restaurant in many aspects, but the two pillars of this Logan Square eatery are its sandwiches and its coffee. Try the Cuban sandwich—vegetarians can have it with guava instead of ham—alongside your sweet, cafe con leche, which is considered one of the best in the city.