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Super Hot Wi-Fi Spots: Wireless Internet Cafes in Chicago

Bucktown, Wireless Service

Don’t be a slave to your laptop-take it to one of the many wireless internet cafes in Chicago and free yourself from the cords and connections. All you need is a wireless card & whatever hotspot in Chicago is convenient for you and you’re good to go!

Filter 1585 N. Milwaukee, 773-227-4850
Hours: 8 a.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday; 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday

Whether you’re looking to people watch or surf the net, Filter has comfy couches for lounging and super-affordable wireless Internet service for work or play in Chicago. For $3 bucks you can surf for an hour or you can surf all day for $8. Filter offers eclectic fare like spicy artichoke wraps with sweet potato cakes or for those who just don’t want to let go of Thanksgiving-a turkey, stuffing, cranberry and chutney wrap. You can enjoy breakfast all day, every day with dishes like the Full Monty-that’s 3 eggs with cheddar and pepper jack, your choice of bacon or sausage and mini-pancakes. Or how about some tasty vegan pastries? Make sure you have a wireless card with your laptop and you can surf all month long for $20.

Letizia’s Natural Bakery 2144 W. Division, 773-342-1011 www.superyummy.com
Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday; 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Letizia puts whole lot of love in her pastries and no hassles with her wireless Internet access. If you have a laptop with wireless card or an Apple with AIR-port card, you’re in! $3 gets you 60 minutes on the web, for $8 you can surf for 24 hours and for $20 you can have 30 days of unlimited service. Once you’re connected you can move around the café and in the summer you can hang out on the sidewalk café. In addition to creative cookies, pies, cakes and muffins, Letizia’s offers soups, salads and several varieties of classic Panini and gourmet grilled Panini. Specialty pizzas are also available.

Atomix 1957 W. Chicago, 312-666-2649
Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Kitschy décor, wi-fi and more! This funky space provides comfy booths and vegan eats to nosh on while you surf, research or email your friends overseas. A friendly staff serves up breakfast items like muffins and bagels along with sandwiches and vegetarian chili. Although the food tastes pretty good, most folks appreciate the large variety of teas and inexpensive wi-fi service. $3 bucks for an hour seems pretty reasonable along with $8 bucks for the day and $20 for the month. So head over to Ukrainian village and keep your eyes peeled for the red storefront and a few hipsters mingling about in front. Happy surfing!

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Gourmand Coffee House 728 S. Dearborn, 312-427-2610 www.gourmandcafe.com
Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday; 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday

Grab a beer and get connected at this diverse café located in the South Loop. On any given day you’ll witness old-timers mixing with gen x’ers and hipsters mingling with professional 30 something’s. Gourmand offers a variety of coffee drinks, beers, wine and hearty breakfast and lunch items. Before I get to that, let’s talk about the wireless service you can access while chowing down on lasagna or listening to live jazz in the background. You have three options for service-$3 for an hour, $10 for the day and $30 bucks for the week. Just bring in your laptop with wireless card and you’re all set. FYI-try the veggie chili while you surf. It’s a great way to warm up. Other menu items include waffles, pancakes, veggie omelets, hummus plate and a hearty tuna melt.

Panera 616 W. Diversey, 773-528-4556 www.panera.com
Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday

I know, I know-it’s a crowded, busy, commercial eatery-but come on, the wireless service is free for Christ’s sake! Not only that, but there’s enough space to spread out and do your work or relax and chat on-line. The best times to go are during the week when most folks are plugging’ away at work. Nights are pretty mellow too. Just bring in your laptop with a wireless card and you’re connected. Panera offers plenty to munch on while you’re surfing like a Portobello & mozzarella Panini, turkey artichoke Panini or a variety of soups served in a sourdough bowl and healthy salads. Bagels run the gamut from plain and blueberry to peanut butter banana crunch and mocha chip swirl. If you’re a coffee lover, there are plenty to choose from, but my best beverage pick has to be the iced honeydew green tea. Yum.

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Millennium Perk 79 E. Madison, 312-384-1270, www.millenniumperk.com
Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

OK, so how many downtown establishments offer free anything? No, the library doesn’t count. Well, this new (2+ years old) coffee house offers free wireless internet service and so many extras I can’t even think straight! People gather here to socialize, play board games, and participate in book club discussions and of course, to get connected. Cute wooden tables offer enough space to do your bih’ness and a cozy atmosphere will make you feel at home. Offerings include sandwiches, salads and smoothies along with a variety of coffees and teas. They even have a small conference room for whatever suits your fancy. And by the way, wireless service won’t cost you a dime. Did I say that already?

Caribou Coffee 3025 N. Clark, 773-529-6366, www.cariboucoffee.com
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 6:30 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday

I know it’s a chain, but seriously, this place happens to be one of the coziest coffeehouse chains around. Dark wood throughout, cushy sofas and a steady flow of warm air create the perfect environment to relax and focus on whatever you might be plugging away at on your laptop. Grab one of the prime spaces by the window and pay your buck for an hour of wireless to get started. Need another hour? That’ll cost you another buck and so on and so on. Oh yeah, the first 15 minutes are free. Just bring in a credit card and make sure your computer has a wireless card and you’re all set. I don’t know if you know this or not, but Caribou serves up awesome coffee drinks too.

Screenz 5212 N. Clark, 773-334-8600
Hours: 8 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday; 8-1 a.m. Friday; 9-1 a.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-midnight Sunday

All grown up and versatile as ever-Screenz offers everything from gaming, burning and scanning to all day wireless laptop access for a mere $9.95. Fax services are available as well as laser printing, copy and fax services. Munchies run the gamut from candy, chips and muffins to cookies sandwiches and pizza. Flavorful Intelligentsia coffee drinks range from lattes and mochas to au laits and cappuccino. If you’re not too computer savvy, the friendly and always knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to help you.

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Honorable Mentions………

Café Avanti 3706 N. Southport, 773-880-5959
Hours: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday

This independent coffeehouse/ art gallery offers cakes, pastries, pizza and chips as well as a variety of flavored coffees. $5.95 gets you about 60 minutes if wireless internet access or $2 an hour if you open an account. Popular with neighborhood types, Café Avanti keeps it cozy, friendly and quiet enough to enjoy your favorite novel. Cash only.

Argo Tea Café 958 W. Armitage, 773-388-1880
Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

With more than 35 different teas from around the world to choose from, free wireless internet access just might be the icing on the cake. This slick little café also offers a variety of pastries, and loose teas cost little more than a few bucks to take home. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room here to spread out and work on your computer. Argo seats 24 indoors and around 20 on the outside patio during the hot summer months.

Art Gallery Kafé 1907 N. Milwaukee, 773-235-2351 www.artgallerykafe.com
Hours: 7:30 – 9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10:00 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Buy a scone, surf all day-it doesn’t get any better than that. Well, it would be nice if you bought a coffee or two, too but that’s just me. Just bring in your laptop with a wi-fi card and you can enjoy free internet access at this artsy little Bucktown café. Goodies include pastries, sandwiches, sodas and organic coffee and teas.