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The Emerald City (EC)

April 29, 2011

This is the place where I hang my morning jacket.

Contrary to popular belief from Wizard of Oz fanatics, Emerald City is actually a real place here in Chicago. I know because I’ve become a “regular,” over the past three years and have been delighted to see the space get better and brighter as a privately owned business. Yeah, Starbucks is very good; we all know that and most of us fast-track through the place to get our urban-style morning caffeine fix. However, that cookie cutter corporate formula calls for an escape into something more personable, unique and outside of assimilated success (in other words, more “real”).

So, I know I’m bias.  This isn’t a review, necessarily.  Let us call it a comparative rant with some shameless plugs.

I like coffee, tea, sweet snacks and the EC vs. the SB for these three is a pretty even call. Now, let’s weigh in the meat, literally. Who can beat simple toast, eggs, superb hash rounds with bacon and or sausage cooked right there behind the bar a little to the left of the single register. Breakfast is available until 1:00p.m. which is great for me, but if I miss that I know I can have an excellent lunch. The sandwiches offered at most chain branches are quick-fix ready to eat pre-packaged choke downers (a little harsh but mostly true) while this high-quality emerald jewel offers tasty, fresh ingredients and some of the better sandwiches I’ve tried in the city. I love Emmy’s Club– chicken, bacon, apple, peach preserves, lettuce, tomato on tomato basil, $6.99 includes chips and drink (there’s my shameless menu plug). For those of the liquid diet persuasion the iced coffee is fantastic but I’m more of an apple-cider kind of guy (shameless drink plug, check). Lastly, how many of you have had trouble hanging up a poster or show advertisement at the clusters? “Oh, we can’t do that,” or “only if it’s non-profit,” and “I’ll have to clear it through the home office,” are ongoing responses I encounter and yes I understand the importance of protecting a branded identity, but at the same time, … really? Not only does the Emerald City always hang up advertisements for neighborhood events they actually host one of their own open mic nights.

Every Friday night at 8:00p.m., poets, artists, writers, rappers, singers and comedians gather in the intimate space to try out new material, rebirth some old warhorses or simply get up in front of people to speak for the first time. Incidentally, I’m MC at the EC (told you I am bias) proving that it couldn’t be more laid back and off-the-cuff friendly (big shameless event plug over). So, community folk of Uptown, Buena Park and Wrigleyville give a new place a try, broaden your morning coffee horizons and meet a favorite friendly staff always ready to make your morning gleam in the green.

And to all my friends and readers outside of the area (that includes all you lovely Tennessee folk) I say, “Where is your Emerald City?”

Emerald City is located at 3938 N Sheridan,

convenient to the Sheridan Red Line

Open Mic Nights are Fridays at 8:00p.m., BYOB:

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