New Bean on Uptown’s “Avenue of the Bean”

Emerald City Coffeehouse recently expanded from its original location alongside the entrance to the Sheridan Road “L” Stop to a second store at 1224 West Wilson which is a luxuriously large space that was left vacant when the Magnolia Restaurant closed in 2015. The new space with its low-key lighting, eclectic décor and friendly and helpful baristas is a genuine throwback to congenial coffeehouses of yore in ultra-hip communities such as Greenwich Village, North Beach in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston/Cambridge.

Atmosphere conducive to study, quiet conversation, performance, creativity and first dates is essential for a coffeehouse to thrive, and Emerald City has it all under the good-natured guidance of owner Brian Osborne. He is a Texas-transplant who has been in the coffee-serving business since 2001. He went to work for Emerald City in 2006, and in 2014 he bought the place. His idea was always for a community center, and with his expansion to 2,000-square-feet that is exactly what he is doing. The schedule of cultural events is what makes his operation unique among a cluster of decent coffee shops on Wilson Avenue.

Every Thursday is Open Mike from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Emerald City which is an evening for comedy and other arts. The third Friday of the month is a Variety Show from 8:00 to- 10:00 p.m. which features poetry, story-telling and recently a tap dancer. The fourth Friday is reserved for “Loose Chicks Chicago’’ from 8:00 to- 10:00 p.m. which is story-telling by courageous women. The second Wednesday is Board Game Night from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Trivia Night begins March 10. Recent spontaneous music events include performance by a Haitian band and on another occasion a piano recital. Plans are underway for a bi-monthly chess tournament. Brian is currently discussing with Chicago comic Kellye Howard for a regular evening each month just for her. There is no admission or cover charge for Emerald City events, and patrons are encouraged to bring their own wine.

Emerald City’s coffee is smooth, rich and robust, and is available in medium- or dark-roast. There’s a lineup of the usual concoctions that we expect at coffee palaces plus several new inventions such as a “Monk’s Eye” which is coffee with steamed milk and a float of double espresso. Many items are made in-house: muffins, coffee cakes, scones, sandwiches like chicken bacon; caprese; veggie melt; chicken pesto; classic BLT and grilled cheese. Breakfast egg tacos ($2.26) are portable, healthy and the best bargain in town. They also have a frequent-customer punch card program; the eighth beverage is free.

They are open weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., weekends 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Hours are extended for events. Contact Emerald City by phone at  773-944-0227 or visit their website at EmeraldCityChicago.Com.

– Walter Vatter, BPN Cub Reporter

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