Turquoise

Today's hang-out-and-study-Spanish-grammar spot was an old favorite of mine:  Turquoise Restaurant, 2147 West Roscoe Street.

Don't pay any attention to the fact that the website looks a little tacky.  This is continental cafe atmosphere right in the heart of Roscoe Village, down to the efficient, but brusque waitstaff.  Perfect time to go: around 2pm, when the lunch menu prices are still in effect, and the place is almost empty. 

Get a table in the back, spread out your work materials, and order a Turkish raki to start out with.  Your waiter will pour a little water into your shot from an adorable pitcher, spoon in a few pieces of ice, and leave the ice and water at your table for further tweaking.

My personal menu favorite: the mussels appetizer, which makes a decadent meal, along with the generous loaf of warm, home-baked bread that appears at your table the minute you're seated.

Various sorts of Euro-sounds are piped in over the sound system; today it was French cabaret.  An especially wonderful spot to sit back and relax, and a perfect complement to the crisp and cool weather we've been having.

This Sunday, it's sushi :)

Today's solo Sunday brunch was sushi and sake at Hot Woks Cool Sushi, 2032 W.Roscoe St.  Perfect solo brunch spot:  Not crowded at all, soft techno playing in the background, surprisingly upscale service for a neighborhood Asian restaurant, and great decor (which this photo doesn't show -- trust me, it's cool, elegant, and restores your spirits).

While it's an intimate space, you'll still feel a sense of urban retreat:  plenty of space between tables and an unhurried vibe.  And there's cute sidewalk dining, too.

Full menu of typical Chinese dishes in addition to sushi -- plus lunch specials, such as two maki rolls with a bowl of miso soup for $8.95.  I tried The Confusion Roll ($13.95):  asparagus and sweet potato tempura folded in a maki topped with diced super white tuna and salmon drizzled with mandarin orange aioli.  Everything is beautifully plated, and there's quite a good sake list as well as signature cocktails.

After your meal, wander along Roscoe St. and window shop, or visit Black Dog Gelato, 1955 W. Belmont (just blocks away), with its menu of amazing unique flavors -- a current favorite of mine is basil strawberry sorbet -- or, have their Turkish iced coffee infused with cardamom pods.  Plus, adorable decor and friendly staff who will let you taste everything :) .