please, do me a favor: if you live in the lakeview area, stop in at cafe latakia at 3204 belmont. it is my favorite little wifi coffee shop in the world, and yet, i am generally almost always THE ONLY PERSON IN HERE and i'm terrified it will go under if the owner doesn't start getting some business soon.
the place is a charmer. it's beautifully decorated, with plenty of small tables, comfy chairs and sage-green paint on the walls. the owner is middle eastern or eastern european - somehow i haven't quite figured that out yet - so he's always got delicious mediterranean pastries in his glass counter. you can get delicious turkish coffee, or a wonderful affogato (vanilla ice cream drowned in espresso), and when it gets warmer, he'll have a selection of ice cream and gelato available. the rest of the coffee choices are pretty basic, and not any cheaper than starbucks, but it is illy coffee, and therefore pure goodness. plus free wifi abounds, and the owner is just the nicest man ever. usually i am a mean, rushed, cynical person - i hate exchanging pleasantries with anyone outside of friends or people i am sucking up to - but somehow i don't mind having a 5-10 minute chat with him every time i come in and get settled down at my table to work. he remembers everything about me - asks how tommy is doing, asks how northwestern is treating me, asks jokingly if i've scored a job at the washington post yet.
there are a few drawbacks - the owner is the only employee, and can often take an agonizingly long time to make your drink if you order anything more complicated than a basic cup of coffee. the bathroom is weird and behind the counter, through the dank, messy back room and is very small and kind of creepy. but i figure that's just a result of the rehabbing process not being done yet.
anyway, i just learned today that his one-year anniversary of owning the cafe is coming up, and i would LOVE to start seeing more people in here. (i may be making this sound more dire than it is; i only come here on saturday mornings and the occasional weeknight, and he probably does better at different times of the week). so, all three-to-four of my chicago readers, i command you: come visit cafe latakia, near broadway and belmont. you'll enjoy it, i promise!
UPDATE: of course, in the process of writing this entry like 10 people have come in. he's fine. but still, come on by! it's a delightful little place.