Lately it seems like everywhere you look, there's always some news about COVID-19. It has become a part of our everyday life, and a topic that we can't avoid. Due to precautionary measures, many restaurants and cafes shut down during March to help minimize the spread of COVID. With many cities now entering Phase 4, places are slowly beginning to reopen, which is great news for us foodies who want to support small businesses during COVID-19. If you're wondering which small local Chicago businesses you can help out, check out the list below with some of my favorite places. 

1. Eli's Ark Chicago

Location: 1843 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Eli's Ark is hands down my favorite gelato shop in Chicago. Owner Elisa Nguyen is a self-taught baker and gelato master who was inspired by her family and son, after whom she named her shop, to open a patisserie in 2018. All of the gelatos are made on-site using natural ingredients from farmers' markets. But the best part is that you can get your ice cream scoops decorated to look like adorable animals.

2. Bru Chicago

Location: 1562 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Located in Wicker Park, this small cafe is perfect for a delicious cup of coffee and even a refreshing smoothie. They also serve gluten-free Japanese style rice crepes that are out of this world. With eleven flavors to choose from, including both savory and sweet options, these tasty crepes are perfect for any time of the day.

3. Recette Chicago

Location: Gladstone Park, Chicago, near Milwaukee and Austin Avenues

If you haven't tried a canelé yet, you better get one ASAP. A canelé is a traditional French pastry from the region of Bordeaux that has a custard base, flavored with vanilla bean and rum. This caramelized crusted dessert is hard to describe but all you really need to know is that it's delicious. 

4. The Gringo Chicago

Location: 1202 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

The Gringo Chicago serves various dishes that put a culinary twist on traditional Mexican cuisine. Not only do they serve ten savory options for tacos, but you can also order tasty margaritas, cheesy queso fundido, and flaming hot elotes! Oh, and don't forget to grab a churro or two when you're there.

5. Beacon Donuts

Location: 810 W Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614

One of my favorite summer activities is going to the Wicker Park Farmer's Market on a warm Sunday morning and stopping by Beacon Donuts. Now you don't have to wait for the weekends to get your hands on these donuts because Beacon Donuts opened their very first shop near Lincoln Park. This local business has a delicious variety of donuts but if I had to choose only one, their Blueberry Pancake donut wins without a doubt.

6. Cafecito Chicago

Location: 7 N. Wells Chicago, IL 60606

26 East Congress Pkwy Chicago, IL 60605

215 E. Chestnut Chicago, IL 60611

If you a fan of good Cuban food, Cafecito Chicago is one of the best Cuban cafes in Chicago, in my opinion. Their most popular dish is their infamous Cubano sandwich, composed of thinly sliced pork shoulder, cured ham, melted swiss cheese, crunchy pickles, and mustard sandwiched between two slices of toasted bread. In addition to the Cubano, Cafecito serves over fifteen different sandwiches from vegetarian friendly to meat lovers, tasty salads, homemade soups, and even full platters such as Steak Chimichurri or Tilapia Criolla.

7. Sfera Sicilian Street Food

The founders of Sfera Sicilian Street Food, Steven and Daniela, started their company as a way to bring a taste of Sicily to Chicago. Using Sicilian techniques and Midwestern ingredients, Steven and Daniela created a unique take on the classic arancini. But what are arancini? Arancini are a classic Sicilian street food consisting of a ball of rice filled with meat or vegetables and fried to perfection. What more needs to be said?

8. Lickity Spilt Frozen Custard and Sweets

Location: 6056 N. Broadway Ave. Chicago, IL 60660

If you want to be transported back into the 1950s, then all you need to do is step into Lickity Split. This local Chicago custard shop is stocked with delicious retro candies, homemade chocolates, and decadent cupcakes but you need to try their frozen custard. Choose among vanilla, chocolate, or a seasonal custard flavor and top it off with fruit, caramel, chocolates, and even gummy bears to make it a unique and tasty creation.

9. JuiceRX

Locations: 211 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL 60611

1880 N. Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 

Açaí bowls are not just an LA food trend. Chicago has many cafes that serve these nutrient-packed bowls, but JuiceRX is by far my favorite. I don't whether it's their delicious homemade granola or the beautiful presentation that makes me return time and time for their açaí bowls. If you're looking for more healthy options, they also sell savory toast, crispy kale chips, customizable smoothies, and superfood truffles. Plus, everything at JuiceRX is vegan.

10. Dimo's Pizza

Location: 1615 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 and 3463 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657

Vegan? Vegetarian? Meat lover? Whatever you're craving, Dimo's definitely has a pizza that will satisfy your appetite. Of course, they have classics such as cheese and pepperoni, but they also have mouth-watering pizza combinations such as The Buff Chick and The Mac.

There are so many great small Chicago cafes to try out, and this list is just a few of my favorite places. While it might be easier to go to a fast food place or a big chain restaurant to grab a meal, it is important to support small local businesses because they are what make cities unique and give people the chance to try something new. Also, what would we foodies do without local restaurants?