Best Coffeehouse - 2003
Readers' Choice: Kaldi's
Meshuggah is also both the best new coffeehouse and the best old coffeehouse. A few months ago, loyalists were shaking in their Docs when owner Patrick Liberto moved his shop off the unbeaten path, just off Delmar, and resettled right on the Loop's main drag. Would Meshuggah become the Blueberry Hill of java, sacrificing atmosphere for volume? Happily, quite the contrary has happened. In attracting a greater cross-section of personalities, Meshuggah has become more of what a coffeehouse should be. It has shed its slightly cliquish feel of old and is now a place where conversations between strangers blossom and quality alone-time is even better than before. Then there's the coffee itself, famously brewed one cup at a time, so caffeine-steeped it's akin to choking back three rails of cocaine. Perhaps most pleasing of all, the food at Meshuggah is downright scrumptious; in a blind taste test, the tasty sandwiches and yummy salads, assembled from notably fresh ingredients, could compete with Brandt's hoity-toitier fare down the block. Meshuggah means crazy in Yiddish, but Liberto has proven himself the opposite, as shrewd yet magnanimous as a joe-slinger can be.