Hungry Hound: Sparrow Coffee, Quiubo in downtown Naperville's Water Street District

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- Downtown Naperville has a relatively new addition, right on the river, called the Water Street District. There are a number of new places to eat and drink, all just a few yards apart.

There's sushi, Neapolitan pizza and even a wine bar on Water Street. But any exploration of the area has to begin with a cup of coffee.

Not just any cup though. Rather, one that's been sourced from the edges of the earth; carefully, painstakingly roasted, then meticulously brewed by baristas with tons of professional training.

EXTRA COURSE: Desserts at Quiubo
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In Steve's Extra Course Video, he takes a look at a pair of desserts from Quiubo, both obviously inspired by Mexico.

The avocado toasts, liege waffles and hefty breakfast sandwiches might make you think this is some sort of artisan cafe - and it is. But at Sparrow Coffee's first full-service offering in Naperville, they've moved way beyond coffee, which they've been selling to some of Chicago's best restaurants for years. Now they're training staff on how to prepare and serve the proper cup.

"We wanted an outlet to bring it to the general populace," said Chris Chacko, Sparrow Coffee owner. "This is a very ambitious project. We wanted to do our dream cafe and then work backwards at it. A flat white that tastes exactly like it does in Australia or New Zealand, a cappuccino that is essentially a competition spec; you want something a little bit milder you can go for the latte."

Or try a pour-over that comes from a robot.

"What we have here is a PourSteady, which is essentially a robotic pour-over brewer," Chacko said. "Say you want Kenyan coffee and your guest wants Colombian coffee and another guest wants Papua New Guinea - we can do all three at the exact same time."

If they don't make it in-house, they source it: Publican Quality Meats and pastries from Spilt Milk in Oak Park, Aya Pastry and Floriole, both in Chicago.

"We want it to be not just for coffee but more for community, a klatch," Chacko said.

A few doors away, Quiubo is the latest offering from the team behind Bien Trucha in Geneva.

"It's authentic Mexican flavors with a modern twist," said Guadalupe Jimenez, the marketing director.

A massive bar pours some 50 different tequilas and mezcals, while the kitchen is nimble; offering whole grilled fish brushed with morita chiles, or an assortment of tacos, like barbacoa, topped with cheese or not, as well as homemade salsas.

A thinly-sliced beet salad offers a crunchy alternative, and sikil pak - a spread made from pumpkin seeds - is a good alternative to guac. But the fish tacos are especially notable, not least of which because they're on homemade tortillas.

"Those are beer-battered tilapia, on top we have mango napa cabbage, has a little bit of tomato, onion, cilantro on it and topped off with pickled onions. Everything is fresh ingredients. What we try to do is take you on a trip to Mexico," Jimenez said.

Sparrow Coffee Naperville
120 Water Street, #110


120 Water Street, #122
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