When Life Gets Too Commercial, Eat & Shop Local

Two places in Chicago that you should know about if you ever visit (or are lucky enough to live there).

Meli Cafe & Juice Bar, 301-305 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60661, tel: 312/454-0748

Meli's is located in the Greek district, a little off the beaten path, about a 5 minute cab ride from downtown. This place is small (quaint) with people packed on the inside and busy with people waiting on the outside. Worth the trip, worth the wait.I could have ordered anything on that menu and probably not have been disappointed. How good does this sound?

Brie Omelete, Ham, Asparagus & Mozzarella Frittatas, Stuffed Strawberry French Toast (held together by a layer of marscarpone), Banana & Cocoa-hazelnut Crepe

... this goes on, I'm just listing what I think sounds good.

Of course here's a picture of what I ate - Feta Scrambler (made with Eggland's Best organic eggs).

All their marmalade is freshly made from natural ingredients and for sale.

If you don't order anything with marscarpone, ask for a sample of it. Not too sweet, creamy and mixed with honey.

Meli Cafe & Juice Bar is open daily from 6am to 4pm. Breakfast is served all day and lunch is served after 11am. Kitchen closes at 3pm.

Moving on.

Into the 2nd best bookstore I have ever been in. The first was an American bookstore in Prague, inside a coffee shop and through a narrow hallway back into a tiny room; it was like a hidden treasure of books only the locals knew about about.

Quimby's had art magazines, books, comics (most of them drawn by hand, some were copied pages stapled together), political materials, poetry books. It's all the stuff you don't talk about on the pop-culture mix.

An opinion is not manufactured in a store like this. You're free to roam.

I could have spent hours in there. Instead I had 20 minutes to browse art magazines and pick out the ones I could possibly use later. And by use, I mean be inspired by... maybe. We'll see.

Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL 60622, tel. 773/342-0910