Ever find yourself at the end of a workday in search of a watering hole that offers the potential for professional networking and a side of soda with your vodka? Look no further than Ceres Cafe. Sure, it’s a place you can stop off for a sandwich (and the best damn guacamole this side of Jackson) but don’t let the name fool you into thinking it’s just a little mom and pop shop.
Location & Board of Trade
Ceres Cafe is located inside the Board of Trade, in the north lobby, and has been tending to its customers since 1967. It is decorated in black and white, with flat screen TVs on the walls. The name is derived from the Roman goddess of agriculture, and a statue of Ceres can be found right outside of the restaurant. There are two separate seating areas with additional seating around the bar, which is located near the back end of the restaurant. The full bar spans across the lower level’s back wall and offers seating around it, with high-top tables next to it. In the upper and lower dining areas, regular tables and booths are available for seating. During the summertime, the sidewalk café is open right next to the Board of Trade, which allows for an additional 15-20 tables. This is the go-to place for those working in the Loop to grab a post-work cocktail and the reason why is simple: the mixer to elixir ratio is completely skewed, but in a good way. I’d always heard tell of this place in regard to it being a great bang-for-your-buck spot, and I’m never one to pass up a bargain.
Upon walking into the establishment, it looked harmless enough. Just a sea of people in business casual attire chatting over drinks and appetizers. Being that it was summer, my first experience was outdoors. I ordered a Tito’s and Sprite, eager to see what all of the fuss was about. When the waiter presented me with my drink, it was filled to the brim of the glass. “One moment while I grab your Sprite,” he told me. This is where it got interesting.
The glass he gave me was completely filled with vodka. I’m talking a few ice cubes and top shelf vodka… for $8. I was then given a can of Sprite as well as the challenge of how to effectively mix both liquids. I’ve since been to the bar a handful of times and have developed a method of taking a sip of one, a sip of the other, and working my way through two sips at a time. The drink can be premixed and can of pop is now an additional fee, but that is half the fun. A newfound hobby has been bringing friends to Ceres for the first time, not giving them much of a heads up, and watching a look of surprise take over their face after they take the first sip. This is often followed by hours of talking in circles.
Food & When to Eat It
While I’ve only tried a few food items, the drink menu is one to cherish. Offered from 2-7:30pm every weekday, the bar menu is full of craft beers and mixed cocktails. As for the food, breakfast is offered between 6am and 10:50am with lunch running from 11am to 7:30pm Within the last few years, Ceres teamed up with Rustic Road Farm and uses their organic produce for their soups, salads, and daily specials. The chips and salsa (or the aforementioned guacamole) are always fresh and delicious.
Your Evening Workcap
Even with the modernization of flat screen TVs, and the hustle and bustle of the crowd, Ceres still has an old-fashioned feel. Located right near LaSalle Street Station, this is the perfect spot to cap off one’s work day before heading home. For more information, check out the Ceres Café website. Cheers to Ceres.
Originally published by Taylor Leddin for Chicago Bar Project