Tucked away west of Washington Park and the Garfield green line lies a hidden gem known as Currency Exchange Café. The Southside café is the brainchild of the contemporary and influential artist Theaster Gates. It not only features various teas and coffee but eclectic food options inspired by a little bit of Southern, Mexican, and good ol’ American cuisine.
This place is truly made for good vibes only. Upon entering Currency Exchange Café, you are immediately embodied by the sweet sounds of Motown, mellow conversations amongst friends, and the heavy body of a locally brewed coffee. The room is filled with bright, natural light, showcasing the beautiful interior of repurposed materials and original hand painted signs, that remain uncovered, truly embracing its historical charm.
As previously mentioned, the food portion of the cafe offers a diverse set of dishes.
So many amazing choices!
I was truly in a soul food Sunday type of mood and decided to partake in the fish and grits. The hearty dish also included collard greens and a homemade biscuit. The food was impeccable. The greens, which can turn out terribly if not made the proper way, were very flavorful. The catfish was seasoned just right and the grits the perfect texture. The biscuit. My goodness, that biscuit! Thick, heavy, fresh out of the oven. Like a sponge is soaked up any butter applied to it. I decided to leave a large portion of it to pair with my green goddess tea. Treating them both like a subtle dessert.
The service at Currency Exchange Cafe is awesome. The service was quick, friendly, and engaging. The barista and I talked passionately about the book I grabbed from the cafes browsable bookshelf. A collection of books that cover every topic there is and provoke conversation that otherwise would not happen.
Currency Exchange Cafe is a place that any and everyone is welcomed. From the older, Ivy league white scholars, to the young black men embarking on their own collegiate experiences. It is the perfect space for quiet gatherings and even large celebrations. This has quickly become my favorite cafe in this city and I will definitely be back for more.