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UPTOWN CHICAGO COMMISSION

Uptown in the News  

June 4, 2003
Chicago Tribune
Brainy bars
Food and drinks come with a side of smarts at these intellectually attuned haunts
By Jenny B. Davis, metromix special contributor


Heading out to the Printers Row Book Fair this weekend and need an intellectual tune-up? Or maybe you're just looking to indulge your inner English major? These bars and cafes wrote the book on literature readings, poetry slams and more.

Ezuli The trendy West Indies-inflected restaurant hosts a monthly book club complete with complimentary snacks. The next tome up for discussion is Carl Weber's "Married Men," a story about four African-American friends and how each of them copes with their marriages. Space is limited, so call to reserve a spot. 7:30-9:30 p.m. June 16. 1415 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-227-8200.

Buzz Café This no-frills eatery is where Oak Park's arts community comes together. At 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, the public discussion group Café Society meets here, opening the floor to group discussion on the media and its relevance in the community. If all that thinking makes you hungry, recharge with a salad or sandwich (the specialty is the California Turkey, topped with avocado, lettuce, tomato, cheddar, bacon and salsa). 905 S. Lombard Ave., Oak Park. 708-524-2899.

Ex Libris Nestled amid the expansive humanities and social science collection at the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library, this student-run café is a great place to wind down with coffee or more substantial eats—mostly Thai and Middle Eastern—supplied by local restaurants (we recommend the tabbouleh). 1101 E. 56th St. 773-702-7645.

The Green Mill Frequent customer Al Capone made this Uptown bar infamous, but its reputation was built on jazz, poetry and hooch. With performances ranging from gut-wrenching to side-splitting, The Green Mill's Uptown Poetry Slam is reputed to be among the oldest in the country and is widely regarded as one of the best. $6 cover. 7 p.m. Sundays. 4802 N. Broadway. 773-878-5552.

Heartland Café With a full schedule of music, book and poetry readings plus a newsstand stocked with alt pubs, this vegetarian café-cum-community center is a veritable think tank for the literary and political-minded. And it serves a tasty red and black bean chili. 7000 N. Glenwood Ave. 773-465-8005.

HotHouse The one-of-a-kind venue is back in business after winning a dispute with the city over its right to sell liquor during performances. A non-profit, HotHouse serves up an offbeat mix of international music, dance and spoken word performances. There's even a gallery space with ongoing shows. With more than 800 events a year, there's something to satisfy every taste. 31 E. Balbo Drive. 312-362-9707.

Kopi, A Traveler's Café The food at this eclectic Andersonville café is reasonably priced and good, but the real treat is the selection of travel manuals and souvenirs culled from every corner of the world. These exotic knick-knacks inspired writer Miles Harvey, who frequented Kopi while working for Outside magazine, to travel the country tracking a thief of antique maps. He details his quest in his non-fiction book, "The Island of Lost Maps." 5317 N. Clark St. 773-989-5674.

Bourgeois Pig Overdose on "The Odyssey" and discuss Descartes at this book-lined café and coffee shop, where the chess-playing set munches on hearty fare named for famous books like the "The Sun Also Rises" turkey sandwich or the "The Old Man and the Sea" tuna salad. Papa would be proud. 738 W. Fullerton Pkwy. 773-883-5282.
The Map Room Whether you grab a mug of joe in the morning or a pint of Guinness in the evening, this cozy Bucktown bar is the place to peruse travel books and magazines, atlases, maps and more. Broaden your horizons every Tuesday at the bar's free international buffet. It starts at 7 p.m., but arrive by 6 p.m. or it'll be slim pickings by the time it's your turn in line. 1949 N. Hoyne Ave. 773-252-7636


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