It’s week six of winter quarter, and midterms are in full swing. For me, this means swinging from paper to paper in a three-week slog, downing massive amounts of coffee and treating myself to altogether too much food. So it goes.
In order to alleviate the pain of staying up all night to study, I’ve tracked down a few late-night hangout spots perfect for procrastinating students like me. Happy midterms, everyone: Here’s hoping this gives you a little bit of food-and-drink-related solace.
PICK ME UP CAFE
3408 N. Clark St.
Pick Me Up is an old classic, nestled about halfway between the Belmont and Addison Red Line stops. Open until 2 a.m., the neon-lit space serves up coffee and diner fare with a vegan twist, as well a selection of cocktails for the 21-plus crowd. The funky decor and blue-tinged lighting are practically made for nighttime – I’ve been there once during the day, and it was a disarming experience.
Speaking of experience, that’s by far the best reason to go to Pick Me Up. The food is almost always satisfying but rarely great, though it’s fairly priced at around $10 a meal per person. Brendan and I split an order of chocolate chip pancakes and gnocchi – weird combination, I know – and I grabbed a cup of hot chocolate topped with mounds of whipped cream. The gnocchi, slathered in a creamy tomato sauce and layered with triangles of garlic bread and a sprinkle of Parmesan, is a sure bet. My chocolate chip pancakes were a little dry, though, and I thought the chocolate chip ratio was a little overwhelming. It’s probably worth noting that Brendan, who loves chocolate, thought I was crazy.
But really, who can complain when ’90s R&B music is blasting and the employees are so friendly? Adam Adonis, a server who’s worked at Pick Me Up for almost two years, said he loves his job because of the fun, casual environment.
“It’s just got everything for culture,” he said. “I can wear whatever I want, be whoever I want, sashay through the hallways and play whatever music.
“Everybody can feel welcome here,” he added. “It’s a haven for everybody. That’s the best part.”
Verdict: Definitely a cooler place to drink coffee than the library. Check this place out when you’re in need of a little break from the books.
Osmium Coffee Bar
1117 W. Belmont Ave.
Osmium is a coffee shop off the Belmont Red Line stop with a steampunk flair, open until 9 p.m. every day. It’s a branch of Dark Matter Coffee, a local coffee roaster with three other locations throughout the city, whose coffee I really enjoy – they have strangely named blends like “Unicorn Blood” and “Warm November Rain” alongside single-origin classics. Wi-Fi is free and doesn’t need a password, which is a huge plus, and there’s plenty of space to spread out your laptop, books and other studying accouterments. The shop itself feels cozy and insulated with its cerulean walls and dream-like murals, like the kind of place you could knock out several hours of work in one go.
“It’s definitely a safe space,” said Amanda Rozmer, a barista who’s worked with Dark Matter Coffee for around three years. “That’s something that all of our shops strive to be, which is a positive thing.”
The biggest downer? Your bill. I ordered a small chai during my visit, which set me back nearly five bucks. For context, a small at Osmium is just eight ounces – really more like an oversized gulp, if you’re a fast drinker. It certainly wasn’t enough to sustain me for a prolonged study session, but I can’t imagine shelling out for a second serving. The taste was decent at best – it has the full-bodied spice of a housemade chai blend, but I wanted the finish to be a little more robust. Instead, the taste tapers off and feels thin at the end of each sip. I would stick to coffee next time.
Fun fact: If you buy one of the shirts for their newest blend of coffee, they will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to four different charities, Rozmer told me.
Verdict: Come for the coffee and mellow atmosphere. Best stick to drip if you’re on a budget.