Bow Truss

Coffee at Bow Truss (Photo by Lenny Gilmore/RedEye / March 5, 2013)

If the River North and Streeterville area seems a little peppier than usual, here's why: Three popular coffeehouses have expanded their empires by setting up shop in these neighboring downtown 'hoods in recent weeks. For a caffeine fix (or hearty breakfast or sweet treat), look no further.

Robust Coffee Lounge
416 W. Ontario St. 312-526-3420

This spinoff location of the Woodlawn cafe of the same name pours the latest brews from Milwaukee's Alterra Coffee Roasters, including Flavio's Reserve, a Brazilian blend with hints of cherry and chocolate ($1.95-$2.45). Fill up with a fried egg sandwich ($4) or Southern fried chicken and waffles ($10.50) for breakfast, or satisfy your afternoon sweet tooth with a Goose Island root beer float ($4.85) or a slice of four-layer caramel cake ($3.95) from Brown Sugar Bakery.

Dollop
345 E. Ohio St. 312-929-4007

Towering twenty-two-foot windows frame the perimeter of this spacious Streeterville coffeehouse, which serves a few favorites from the original Buena Park location—including the Nutella mocha and honey-cinnamon latte ($4). Java comes courtesy of Metropolis Coffee, while baked goods are brought in from local purveyors such as Southport Grocery and Fritz Pastry. Dollop also serves sustenance made on-site, such as a brie, pear and fig jam baguette ($6.50) and a chipotle turkey sandwich ($6.50). Settle into one of three seats at the pour-over bar to watch your coffee be prepared by hand.

Bow Truss
406 N. Wells St. No phone

The lack of wifi (and restrooms) makes it clear that the River North outpost of the East Lakeview coffee roastery is focused on in-and-out service. Bow Truss serves its own coffee and plans to keep at least two varieties, such as its Canopy/Technori blend with notes of peach and dark chocolate, on hand regularly ($2 for a 12-ounce cup), along with a couple of espresso options ($3) and two to three pour-over varieties ($3). Although the shop doesn't offer food everyday, you may come across sweets from Fritz Pastry or another local specialty food provider in a small pop-up shop inside.