Lincoln Square outposts..

  • August 15th, 2011
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Southport Grocery & Cafe opened its doors with a few things in mind.  Mostly, to create modern, simple and fun food experiences to those that live in and visit our neighborhood.  Breakfast, brunch and lunch food was the focus of the cafe, with boutique groceries awaiting on approachable shelves for those dining or in for a quick peruse of the shop.  Shortly after opening (our first week, actually) an interesting connection and opportunity was made.  Lisa, our owner, was introduced to another new business owner, Sue from Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.  Sue wanted to serve sandwiches and baked goods in the coffee shop within her new bookstore, but she didn’t have the space or people to make them.  Through the Women Business Development Center (where both had received help with things like business loans and permits) the ladies were introduced, and our wholesale business was born.  Since that first week, we’ve expanded our wholesale to supply cafes across the city with soups, sandwiches, salads, baked goods, and, of course, our famously delicious cupcakes.

This past week I headed up to the Book Cellar, where it all started, and visited our other accounts around the lovely Lincoln Square.. here’s what I found:

The Book Cellar ~ 4736 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago

Tucked in the middle of Lincoln Square sits the Book Cellar, a refined but modest book store and cafe.  Tidy shelves on one side of the store house all the necessary varieties of literature, new and old, as well as picture books fit for children and adults.  The family atmosphere is especially apparent during my late morning visit, as a mother sits indian-style on the floor with two attentive young girls and a story book as light foot traffic eases in and out of the book-lined rows of shelving.  I pop over to the cafe side and order an iced latte and chocolate toffee scone that had been delivered to their store from ours earlier that morning.  Sitting on an armchair near the front windows, I enjoy the sunshine gleaming in and the view of the fountain across the street, and am served my morning snack by the polite barista.  The cafe houses a few tables where you can enjoy more than just a cup of joe, offering a variety of  sandwiches, salads and soups, on top of a full line of coffees, teas and juices.  Wine and beer lists sit atop the tables boasting a nice selection of adult beverages to enjoy during one of their book clubs, local author nights, or book reading/signings.  A full calendar of events can be found here.  Overall, this is a great place to peruse on a day off with family in town, and I look forward to going back on a lay winter day to sip a warm coffee and find my next read!




The Grind Cafe ~ 4613 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago

Suitably named The Grind, this small yet effective coffeehouse just south of the square serves up daily doses of freshly roasted coffee drinks as well as breakfast and lunch dishes.  The high ceilings create space for wandering minds that sit behind macbooks, notebooks and magazines as sunlight from the tall windows warm the cafe floor.  There’s only a small case for the days baked offerings and cold drinks, behind which all coffee and food orders are prepared in the exposed kitchen.  I order a blue smoothie (with blueberry, banana, yogurt and orange juice) and enjoy the mix of indie rock that cries from the corners of the room.  My drink is delivered via the owner, who dons an apron and can be seen regularly waiting on her anxious customers.  There’s a nice balance of cafe-goers set for an afternoon of web browsing and passer-bys grabbing a coffee for the road.  This cafe is never pretentious and always courteous, a neighborhood spot worthy of frequenting.  Don’t miss their well crafted coffees, and come back for the quiche.

Provenance  ~ 2312 W. Leland, Chicago


Wine and cheese pair perfectly with boutique groceries in this cute neighborhood shop.  Located just across from the Western – Brown Line, it’s a great place to grab a bottle for your byob dinner or some last minute touches for your dinner party.  I was greeted by Nicole upon arrival, who kept me company as I browsed the shelves of gourmet groceries, microbrewery beers, and some local produce.  I even ran into an “age your own whiskey” kit, which I’m sure would be a fun and worthwhile project if you’ve got the patience.  There is a healthy variety of cheese on display to pair with the worldly selection of wine.  Suffice to say you could build yourself quite a platter with the accouterments available.  The storefront is conveniently located steps from the Lincoln Square Farmer’s Market (Tuesdays 7 a.m. – 1 pm., and Thursday evenings 4-8 p.m.) and offers wine tastings frequently.

Lincoln Square has something for everyone, including your fix for Southport Grocery cupcakes!  Whether it’s coffee and bagel before work at The Grind, an afternoon frolicking through books at the Book Cellar, or preparing for an evening event at Provenance, stop by and visit the friendly folks in this quaint pocket of our city.


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