Writers’ Spaces is a series that reviews — you guessed it — spaces for writers. Whether writing is your lifeblood or you got stuck in Intro to Fiction, check out the best (and worst) places to practice your craft.
Welcome to the Bourgeois Pig Café. Leave your Marxist assumptions at the door, although this would be the perfect place to settle in for an afternoon reading the Communist Manifesto. Okay, so it may be located in yuppie Lincoln Park, but I say anywhere you can get a good cup-o’-joe for $2 is decidedly inclusive of the proletariat. And don’t we all like to pretend to be snobby every once in a while?
Then again, snobby’s not a word I’d use to describe this down-to-earth café. It’s a homey atmosphere away from home, so if you’re all tapped out on Evanston cafés and tremble at the thought of another afternoon spent in the library, this is the place to go. Like all the best coffee shops, it blends in with its surroundings. You could almost miss it when walking by because it’s set back in a quaint brick building with a patio and outdoor seating (admittedly not much of a plug at this time of year).
Inside, the wooden tables, brick walls and antique-y doodads — along with the aromas of coffee and baked goods made daily on the premises — provide a great atmosphere in which to chat, eat or stare out the nearly floor-to-ceiling window and ponder the passing of pedestrians outside. Upstairs is quieter and full of books, an area for the more industrious writer intent on meeting a deadline or working on improving his or her crossword puzzle-solving time.
The eats and drinks, for which the Pig has gained recognition time and time again, merit their own paragraph. Coffee. The biggest selection of looseleaf tea in the Chicagoland area (seriously, they have a Wall of Tea). Gelato. A stunning menu of paninis, “classic” sandwiches (see below), salads and what can only be called baked greats. You have to be amused at a place where you can walk up to the counter and order a Catcher in the Rye (a corned beef sandwich on guess what kind of bread). Or maybe you’re working on a paper for that pre-1798 English class; a Henry VIII with a side of A Midsummer Night’s Dream should do the trick. Snobby? Perhaps. Cheesy? Okay, fine. Delicious? Definitely.
If you haven’t gathered as much already, it is worth a day trip on the El to get some serious reading and writing done. It can get uber-crowded on the weekends, so your best bet is to arrive right when they open (7 a.m.), or better yet, go on a weekday and take the express train. Either way, get there early, put in your order, grab a spot upstairs or down, chomp into your Ham I Am, and get to work. You pig.