Avondale is attracting top-notch restaurant talent along Milwaukee Avenue, north of the Logan Square Monument. Joining new editions like Mother’s Ruin and the Brewed is Loaf Lounge, a bakery cafe whose seeds were planted in 2020 with indoor dining suspended and restaurants laying off staff. Owners Ben Lustbader and Sarah Mispagel honed their bread recipes as a pop-up inside Logan Square’s Superkhana International and would expand their repertoire to sandwiches and more. Their new cafe gives customers a chance to sample those items, as well as cookies, cakes, and other specials.
The cafe is cozy with a few tables and counter seating. Behind the counter, customers can eye the main draw: the day’s breads. Honey oat and country sourdough are standbys, but Mispagel, a pastry chef who worked at West Loop fine dining restaurants Sepia and Proxy, has more adventurous options including olive polenta and caramelized onion. Mispagel and Lustbader, who are married, have coined the phrase “bread-focused cafe,” so diners won’t lose trace that bread is the foundation of the business.
Lustbader, who worked at Giant under James Beard Award-nominated Jason Vincent, concentrates on the savory side. Breakfast sandwiches come piled with farm fresh eggs and sausages on enticing English muffins. Simple dishes like a summer salad and cured salmon prove Loaf Lounge has a lighter side. But nevertheless, those who want to indulge can opt for the poblano fritters. It’s a good move to order one for the table.
For drinks, they’re pouring Four Letter Word Coffee and Volition teas. General manager Cristina Gandarilla will eventually create a cocktail list and they’ll serve wine. For now, Miller High Life is the only alcohol available.
Many customers may come through the door on account of The Bear. The TV show employed Mispagel as a pastry consultant and showed off her desserts. That includes the chocolate cake, which is also available; show creator Chris Storer encouraged Mispagel to sell it, she says. The cake is great, but Loaf Lounge is hardly a one-hit wonder. Check out the space and food below.
Loaf Lounge, 2934 N. Milwaukee Avenue, open 8 a.m. to 4 pm. Wednesday through Sunday.