Looking for a unique, quiet Chicago cafe with great tea
July 31, 2006 12:21 AM   Subscribe

Looking to find a cafe in Chicago that meets a very specific set of criteria.

Ideally, the place would meet all the following criteria. If not, these are arranged in order of importance (with 1 being the most important).

1. Has great tea and preferably a large tea menu.
2. Unique to the city (viz., probably not a nationwide chain).
3. Quieter rather than louder.
4. Very laid back, friendly staff that doesn't mind if you're nursing a cup while studying for a test/reading a book/on a date.
5. If there is music playing, I'd prefer it to be jazz, ambient, or classical. I'd rather avoid things like Sufjan Stevens or TV on the Radio.

Other things, like free wifi are not necessary.

Thank you in advance for any and all responses.
posted by aiko to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ugh, forgot a very important thing:

3. Should be easily accessible by train, bus. The closer to the Loop, the better. Brown or Blue lines preferred.

Please imagine that the current 3-5 are 4-6. Thanks.
posted by aiko at 12:38 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: Haven't been there in a couple years, but I used to like hanging out at the Pig.
posted by onalark at 1:14 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: i haven't been there, but argo tea sounds as if it may fit the bill. there's one in the loop and one on halsted at armitage. they're currently local to the city, although i believe they're looking to expand. I'm not entirely sure about how they fit the rest of your criteria, but they're probably worth checking out.
posted by chrisege at 5:25 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: It definitely sounds like you're talking about Argo Tea. The one in the Loop will probably be too crowded for you, but try the one at 819 N Rush St. Despite being on Rush and quite close to Michigan Ave. at it's shoppingist, I don't think it gets too crowded.
posted by Xalf at 6:25 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: Yes -- either Argo Tea or TeaGschwendner, which has more than 300 tea varieties. They're a chain if you count international locations, but all their US cafes are here at home in Chicago. :)
posted by picopebbles at 6:35 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: For a much more chill experience than Argo Tea, try the Urban Tea Lounge. It's at 838 W. Montrose, just a few blocks from the Wilson El. Alternatively, one of the lakeshore express buses might get you there even more quickly.
posted by j-dawg at 6:55 AM on July 31, 2006

I know you want more near the Loop, so this isn't really an option, but if you ever do find yourself in Evanston (or if anyone else is looking for tea in Evanston), I recommend Dream About Tea. Lots of tea choices, and the owners know a lot about different kinds. And it's quiet. And it is near the El, just the purple line, so it takes awhile to get there on weekends.
posted by bibbit at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: (and I second Urban Tea Lounge for in the city)
posted by bibbit at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: I am not at all a fan of Argo.. but mostly because I had a craving for bubble tea and their "bubble tea" is anything but close to the real thing... it's a complete bastardization.

Anyway - other options:

Filter in Bucktown is a cool place, but I think you've implicitly killed that one via #5 (er, now #6?)

I've never been there, but I've heard My Place for Tea is very good. To be perfectly honest, it may be more of a tea "store" than a cafe, I just know that many people have recommended them for tea.
posted by twiggy at 7:30 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: My Place for Tea is right around the block from me, and I've been there several times. It's a hybrid tea store / cafe that serves a wide variety of teas and tea drinks (hot tea, iced tea, bubble tea, tea smoothies, etc) and the people who run it are very knowledgable and friendly. It's very chill, too. Actually I'd say it meets all your criteria pretty well, as long as the Belmont stop on the brown/red/purple line is close enough to downtown for your tastes. (And they do have free wifi, as it happens, though you said you don't care about it.)
posted by jacobm at 7:58 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: Just throwing this one out there --

Cafe Latakia, 3204 N. Broadway. It's quiet, laid back and overall a great place. The manager/proprietor is possibly the nicest person you'll ever meet.

I've never had their tea, but their ice cream is fantastic.

It's on the west side of the street, just north of the intersection of Belmont/Broadway. You can take the El to Belmont, then walk east on Belmont for about 4 blocks, or you can take the 145/146/151 bus to Belmont/Sheridan, then walk west on Belmont for a couple of blocks.
posted by adrian_h at 11:40 AM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: Julius Meinl Café is a Viennese coffee shop at Addison & Southport (a short walk off the Southport Brown Line stop).

They claim to sell "Probably the Finest Tea in the World," but I usually go for coffee, so I can't back this up. They also have afternoon tea, and live classical music on most Sat. eves.

It is totally a hang-out friendly spot. I love the vibe there, and they have cozy chairs. It's a European chain, but it's the only one in the U.S.

It's also a great place to take a date after a movie at the Music Box Theatre.
posted by limeswirltart at 12:44 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

I messed up a link on my first post! Ugh!

Try: Julis Meinl Café
posted by limeswirltart at 12:47 PM on July 31, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you for all the responses. I'm very much looking forward to visiting many of these places.
posted by aiko at 4:04 PM on July 31, 2006

I enjoyed Cafe Ennui a long time ago (early 2000). Nice peaceful atmosphere, good tea, perfect for sitting and reading. I don't recall how far it was from the city, but would have had to have been on the red or brown lines for me to have been there.

A quick Google tells me it still exists, there are a few reviews here, and Google Map here
posted by girlgeeknz at 1:19 AM on August 1, 2006

Late comment, but I just saw on the ABC 7 Chicago site that there's a local guidebook that came out in March called All the Tea in Chicago.

That might help you a lot in your tea search.

Plus the cover looks cute.
posted by limeswirltart at 10:28 AM on August 2, 2006

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