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Royal Coffee: Some Misir with Your Mocha?

By John DiGilio in Food on Apr 27, 2011 7:00PM

One of the things that makes exploring independent coffee shops so much fun is the unique twists they are able to bring to what they do. From menu, to decor, to the additional treats they put on their menus, indie shops are not governed by the cookie cutter standards that make the bigger chains so homogeneous. Sure they may look like your standard coffeehouses from the outside, but you never know what is waiting for you until you step through the door. Imagine our delight then upon visiting Royal Coffee in Rogers Park for the first time to find out that we could get a tasty Ethiopian meal with our joe.

Royal Coffee is cozy little corner shop. The decor is homey and the vibe is low key. During warmer months, the patio is spacious and receives the free wi-fi signal from within. If this all sounds standard, it is because Royal Coffee’s standouts lie beneath its surface. The coffee is 100% pure highland coffee from Ethiopia. It is not blended with other beans. Every cup is dark, bold and fully flavored. It is also inexpensive, with most of the coffee drinks well below $3! The Ethiopian Tea, a brew of black tea and cardamom, is a real treat for anyone looking for a coffee alternative.

In addition to the bagels and other pastries that one expects to find in a coffee shop, Royal Coffee also offers a full menu of breakfast items, sandwiches and salads. What caught our eye on our visit, however, was the list of Ethiopian dishes offered. A small selection of traditional meat and vegetarian dishes, each one sounded tempting. We tried the Vegetarian Plate. It was a generous plate of red lentils, split peas, chopped greens, and a wonderful mix of potatoes, green beans and carrots called fuselia. Served with several rolls of injera, it was satisfying and tasty - a perfect lunch for the rainy day on which we visited.

With a Starbuck's just doors away, Royal Coffee has its competition cut out for it. While we will cast no aspersions on the coffee giant, you won't be able to get Ethiopian style eggs with your caramel macchiato. It takes an independent coffee shop to come up with a combination like that. With great coffee, good food, and unbeatable prices for its drinks, Royal Coffee was a royal delight.

Royal Coffee is located at 6764 North Sheridan Road.