Wildly popular local coffee chain Dark Matter will unveil its new Mexican drinking chocolate-focused Avondale cafe on Thursday, according to a rep. Caravanserai, located just across the street from the original Kuma’s Corner, will feature a pour over bar that highlights unusual recipes and techniques from Mexico City-based partner La Rifa Chocolatería, as well as a selection of pastries, sweets, and tamales.
Caravanserai staff will concoct uncommon chocolatey drinks made from pre-colonial recipes that eschew milk in favor of ground cocoa, sugar, and water that is aerated by hand, a process that creates “a more traditional chocolate style,” Dark Matter founder Jesse Diaz wrote in an email. The shop will also feature a Leva pull espresso bar. A full drink menu is available below.
The cafe’s food selections include a daily rotating menu of tamales from Otoniel Michel of essential Mexican restaurant Estrella Negra, and on weekends patrons can try his signature pozole. Customers can also expect a “playful” selection of sweet treats and pastries from local partners including West Town Bakery and Do-Rite Donuts.
The bright, colorful cafe seats 60 at low and high-top tables, along with four spots along a tall, tiled espresso bar. Potted desert plants line the bar and dot the space, and the walls bear vivid, hyper-realistic murals by local artist Jason Brammer, inspired by Mexico’s San Cristóbal. Artists Ceaser Perez and Rodrigo Oñate Roco painted additional murals, including a snarling panther in the restroom.
Dark Matter’s Chicago footprint seems ever-increasing: the team opened a “Coffee Cold” bodega in West Town in May and announced plans for the new Avondale cafe three months later. “With the combination of Latin and Eastern European ethnicities in the neighborhood, there was an immediate connection [with Avondale],” Diaz wrote. He also noted Dark Matter’s abundance of friends in the area, including Beer Temple, Kuma’s, and German street food truck DönerMen.
Members of the La Rifa team will be onsite for the opening to share their knowledge and experience with customers. “As coffee roasters, we have always been inspired by chocolate, as the two share numerous processing, sourcing, and business practices,” Diaz wrote. “This organic relationship [with La Rifa] is very inspiring to us and we are thrilled to be able to support them.”
Hot chocolate is a natural antidote to gloomy Chicago winters, and the city has plenty of creative, rich, and colorful cups — including Mexican varieties — to offer. The combined prowess of Dark Matter and La Rifa, however, means Avondale’s newest offering could draw chocoholics from across the city.
Block Club first reported this opening.
Caravanserai, 2901 W. Belmont Avenue, Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Sunday.
Caravanserai Menu by nwax on Scribd