It’s harsh times in the Chicago winter, which means we’ll take warm comforts wherever we can get them. As foodies our favorite winter comfort food isn’t a food at all. That’s right it’s hot drinks! For the days you’re willing to venture out into the snow, there’s nothing better than grabbing a book (or a friend) and taking a seat with a tea or coffee in your favorite neighborhood spot. Fortunately Chicago totally gets this, so you have plenty of options.

Below are a few of our favorite spots to relax with a hot drink and sometimes a little snack in the Chicago area. Each of these places have a unique atmosphere that will blow your local Starbucks out of the water.

Wormhole Coffee

1462 Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60622, thewormhole.us

Wormhole Coffee Chicago

Wormhole coffee‘ by Jeff Wilcox via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

When we’re looking for a dollop of pop culture whimsey with our coffee we head over to Wormhole to drink surrounded by old school video game motifs, movie posters and tchotchkes that could have been curated from the room of a kid in 1985. Beyond the atmosphere of course is a spectacular selection of drinks. They always have a rotation of brews from smaller coffee roasters, guest roasters and unique signature drinks that are sometimes worth ordering for the names alone (see past drinks: The Tim Curry, Clove Encounters, The Harrison Gourd).

Their staff is always up for talking coffee and if you follow their blog, you’ll realize one thing’s for certain— the people behind Wormhole put thought, passion and fun into everything they do.

Drink recommendation: The always there Honey Bear Latte is heavenly but we say, you can’t lose if you go for whatever signature drink is on the menu.

Big Shoulders Coffee

1105 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642, bigshoulderscoffee.com

Literally right off the Chicago Blue Line stop, Big Shoulders Coffee is a small but never overcrowded spot perfect for a sit but equally suited for on-the-go commuters. They have a no-nonsense approach to providing coffee (just one cup size for all!), so while their interior may look beautifully hip they say it best— there’s “no fancy lingo required.” As far as hanging out goes, you just can’t beat the natural light that floods the space from the windows, which makes it the perfect on those sunny winter days.

Drink Recommendation: It’d be a crime not to recommend the Marshmallow Latte (includes a roasted marshmallow).

Ipsento Coffee House

2035 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647, ipsento.com

Like many of the places on our list, Ipsento offers the typically cozy space you imagine when you think of a coffee shop, and it’s great for relaxing but what we especially love is the Coffee 101 class they offer every month, making this our favorite spot for drinking and learning about coffee. For anyone looking to know a little more behind their coffee, their popular class delves into the history of the beloved drink, brewing techniques and more.

Drink Recommendation: The Nutella Mocha is the grown up version of your favorite childhood snack.

Star Lounge

2521 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622, darkmattercoffee.com

Star Lounge Dark Matter Coffee

Coffee Bar‘ by Payton Chung via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Star Lounge has been accurately described as a dive bar without the beer. From its sign outside, you may actually mistake it for a bar and that’s what we love about this place. The interior features an actual bar and they serve coffee from a tap. The super laid back vibe makes it one of our go-to spots for bringing along a friend. Plus as one of the locations under local roaster Dark Matter Coffee™, they offer a variety unique and delicious coffee blends

It’s low key, dive-y vibe is perfect the person who loves coffee but not the fancy nonsense. Though to be fair, every spot on our list veers away from that.

Drink Recommendation: The completely legal Wake & Bake

Gaslight Coffee Roasters

2385 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago IL 60647, gaslightcoffeeroasters.com

The inside of Gaslight reminds us of a fancy cabin where someone may hunker down to do some reading. This popular Logan Square neighborhood spot on the corner of Milwaukee and Fullerton is perfect for a great cup of coffee but they also offer a rotating menu of food items that sometimes look almost too beautiful to eat…but we recommend digging in.

Drink Recommendation: Go for a Pourover brewed by the cup

TeaGschwendner

557 W. Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60614, http://www.teagschwendner.com

Bonus: For when you want to make amazing hot drinks at home.

When we’re not willing to go out for our hot drinks, our go-to is loose leaf tea from TeaGschwender. Why is this our favorite spot to get it? Not only do they have an insane amount of choices, their staff will step you through choosing a tea and even walk you through how to make it properly. This is great, because for some the world of tea can be a little intimidating.

There are plenty of fantastic coffee shops in the city, so this list could probably go on and on. We want to know your favorite spot to grab a coffee or a hot drink and relax in the winter. Let us know in the comments are tweet us @ChiFoodPlanet!