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Bad Wolf Coffee owner Jonathan Ory picks his Chicago foodie hotspots

Bad Wolf Coffee owner Jonathan Ory loves eKuma's but also KurumayElk Grove Village.

Bad Wolf Coffee owner Jonathan Ory loves to eat at Kuma's, but also Kurumaya in Elk Grove Village.

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Updated: December 1, 2013 6:08AM

Jonathan Ory knows where to get a good cup of coffee. He can find good pastries. But, he says, “There aren’t many places I’ve seen that do both in the same place.” So in July he opened that place.

At Bad Wolf Coffee, 3422 N. Lincoln, Ory brews Counter Culture coffee and makes pastries. No fancy drinks — just strong coffee and stronger espresso, cut with milk. His pastries are no baked afterthoughts either, but labor-intensive European numbers you don’t often see: kouign amann, salambos and caneles.

The Charleston, S.C., native worked on the savory side in serious kitchens — Schwa, Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, Momofuku in New York — all the while mastering “proper pastry.”

“There is no divide between baking, pastry, beverage and cooking,” Ory says. “When I make pastries, I think about making pastas. Eccles cake, they’re just ravioli. Knowledge base, skill set and palate, that’s all that matters.”

The same goes for when Ory eats out. Solid technique and, by consequence, plain good food keep him coming back.

In the burbs: “Kurumaya [1201 E. Higgins, Elk Grove Village] is really good. We were just driving around one day and saw this place that actually looked Japanese. They do the little things you don’t really find — chawanmushi, okonomiyaki, a lot of marinated stuff.”

Besides Bad Wolf: “I’m a huge fan of Ipsento [2035 N. Western]. If I was to grab a cup of coffee outside of my place, I’d go there. They have quality employees that know what they’re doing. They source it well. Ch’ava [4656 N. Clark] too. Those guys are legit. They’re working in cramped conditions and I love that.”

Spicy stuff: “Pho’s Thai [3332 N. Lincoln]. I love that place. I was burned out on Thai food and I went there expecting to be disappointed, but I was really surprised. I ordered the pad thai medium and it was really hot, and I couldn’t stop wolfing it down because it was really balanced. It was hot, but it didn’t sacrifice any flavor to get there.”

Kuma’s [2900 W. Belmont], of course: “I’ve been friends with those guys for so long. The first time I went there, I was like, ‘Oh cool, a burger place that plays metal.’ This was when the place was empty. ... The quality of their beef is just awesome.”

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