PILSEN — Two words: “Coffee” and “bar.”
Both fit perfectly at Nitecap Coffee Bar, which opened Sunday and delivers a one-two punch of in-house caffeine and BYO alcohol, with the late night hours to support evening drinkers.
The shop, formerly Café Meztizo, has a kind of grunge graffiti exterior more reminiscent of Wicker Park than Pilsen.
Owner Aaron Marsh is used to that Wicker Park chic.
After consistently heading north for a late night coffee fix, Marsh — who lives down the block from Nitecap at 1738 W. 18th St. — wanted a nighttime cafe in his own hood.
Marsh, 35, who previously worked at an insurance company, said he’s now looking forward to a different kind of workweek grind.
“I dreamt of having a coffee shop,” he said. “On my off time, I was spending a lot of time at coffee shops and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be a great reason to be here because I had to be?’”
Marsh also added a bar for both espresso sipping and hard drinking, as long as the drinkers bring their own booze.
Metropolis coffee is Nitecap’s order of the day, and sweets and sandwiches are also available.
The sandwich end features names such as “El Vez,” a baguette with peanut butter, guava and plantains. Or the “Elena Rigby,” another baguette with cream cheese, roast turkey, guava and arugula.
All sandwiches — co-crafted by chef Juan Santana — come with a choice of jalapeno slaw or roasted potato salad, neither of which contains mayo.
At Nitecap, Marsh said, mayo is a four-letter word. Even the sandwiches refuse to touch the stuff and are served with a house-made vegan aioli instead.
Marsh, a “wannabe” vegetarian, said many of the sandwich options — which he wants to change weekly — could hold their own sans meat.
Sweets come by means of Skinnie Piggy, 1214 W. Taylor St., and both skinnie and piggy cupcake options exist at Nitecap. Currently, Nitecappers can enjoy Butterfinger and Salted Caramel cupcakes, among others, and flavors will rotate.
Every third Friday, Nitecap will host “Cosmic Erotic,” a performance series and open mic that blends poetry and live performance. On March 30, the coffee bar will also host Word Up!, a poetry slam created by the Latin comedy group, Salsation.
NiteCap is open from 7 a.m. “’till we sell out” on weekdays, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Wi-Fi is free.