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Evanston, IL Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendation


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#1 ianeccleston

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 02:15 PM

Hello all,

I'm moving to Evanston next week, and I'm a little worried that it won't cut its snuff when it comes to your local restaurant. Chicago has so many hole-in-the-wall places that give a lot of bang for the buck; does anyone have any recommendations for their favorite mid-priced Evanston area eatery?

(and come on, the 'Dining Capital of the North Shore'? What's up with that shit)

Ian

#2 Lady T

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 02:46 PM

:biggrin:

More stuff there than you'd think, actually. A brief sampler, starting from the top down, would start with Trio, $$$$ home of the cutting-edge chef Grant Achatz (known here on eGullet as 'chefg'). Jacky's Bistro is exactly that -- and very good value for the $$. Around a corner and a few steps east of Jacky's is Bluestone Cafe, somewhat of a young-yuppie hangout in the evenings, with a hemisemidecent wine list and a shifting menu of noshers, burgers, and pastas. Across the street from Bluestone is Symphony's, a neighborhood cafe trying really hard to do better quality, and managing oftener than one would think. If their servers ever get it together... Around a corner and half a block down from Jacky's is Prairie Joe's: quirky, eclectic, and astonishingly cheap (but don't go there if you feel contemplative; half the North Shore brings their uncontrolled brats there on weeknights. Ugh.)

Here's the punch line: Jacky's, Bluestone, Symphony's and Prairie Joe's are all within two blocks of each other. I didn't mention the Starbuck's, the Subway, and the China Cafe either -- still on those same two blocks.

:biggrin:

(Edited to get my bolds and italics straight!)

Edited by Lady T, 22 August 2003 - 02:59 PM.

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#3 ianeccleston

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 02:55 PM

Thanks! How 'bout ethnic fare? Any standouts?

Ian

#4 Lady T

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 03:10 PM

:biggrin:

Hm. Campagnola, on Chicago Avenue, does damn fine Italian. I can never keep it straight from visit to visit whether that's the pricier of the two restaurants, or whether that's Campagnola Cafe upstairs. Good eating in any case.

SOMEBODY remind me of that Nepali or Tibetan place's name on Church Street, west of Whole Foods! Something Garden? Dang! Beautiful $7 dollar or so buffet on weekends -- I'll look it up and have that for you Monday if no one else comes up with it by then.

Lupita's, on Main Street just west of the Metra tracks, comes up with real interesting Mexican -- the trick is to watch for the good stuff on the different-every-day specials list; the rest of the regular printed menu is the standard-issue Tex-Mex routine. Lupita goes back to Mexico for a visit every year, and every year she brings some neat ideas back.

That should get you started.


:biggrin:
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#5 inventolux

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 05:04 PM

Just go to Trio. Dont go anywhere else.
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#6 tammylc

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 05:31 AM

Just go to Trio. Dont go anywhere else.

I know you must be only joking, but...

I think I'd get bored even of Trio if it was the only place I went out to eat. Plus, even chefg says that it's about the experience, and not about satiation. When I just want to grab a quick bite of something tasty because I've had a bad day at work and can't face the kitchen, Trio is not going to fit the bill...

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#7 guajolote

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 05:49 AM

Dave's Italian Kitchen on Clark (I know it's not actually Clark but I just don't get why they change all the street names when you get into Evanston) has real good Italian-American food, plus a really good and inexpensive wine list.

There are 2 Japanese resturants south of downtown, New Japan and Kuni's. Stay away from the horrible tapas place.

Unfortunately, downtown Evanston is being run over by a bunch of chains including Puck's Cafe, Chilis, and Corner Bakery.


#8 nightscotsman

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 06:31 AM

Here's the punch line:  Jacky's, Bluestone, Symphony's and Prairie Joe's are all within two blocks of each other.  I didn't mention the Starbuck's, the Subway, and the China Cafe either -- still on those same two blocks.

Mind if I ask where this Magnificent Two Blocks is located? Sounds like some good stuff.

And I think I saw Dave's Italian Kitchen on "Check Please" a few weeks ago. The discussion was very positive and everything they showed looked great.

#9 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 02:55 PM

There are 2 Japanese resturants south of downtown, New Japan and Kuni's. Stay away from the horrible tapas place.

Love New Japan...had a very bad experience a few years ago at Kuni's and have not been back since.

Also on Main Street (near Kuni's) are Oceanique for fine-dining with a seafood bent (duh :wacko:) and Lucky Platter (across the street from Kuni's), 2 places that have a lot to offer. Another 'cheap eat' near there is Cross-Rhodes on Chicago Avenue just north of Main St.

And...back on the Central Avenue roster, no one mentioned 'upscale grocery' Foodstuffs. It's a bit hoity toity, but they have some decent sandwiches and their dips and breads are top-notch. And...a few doors west of there is Great Harvest Bread Co., not my fave types of breads, but highly regarded by many.

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#10 LittleMissCrepe

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 09:07 PM

Lady T, was Mount Everest the Nepali/Tibetan restaurant you were thinking of? I spent four years at Northwestern and just graduated in June, but I have a notoriously bad sense of geography so I'm not sure if Mount Everest is on Church Street.

In Evanston, I like to go to JK Sweets for bibim bop. It's open late at night and the man who runs the place is incredibly nice. The other non-dessert items on the menu are quite hit or miss, but I've been happy with the curry chicken rice dish. For a city filled with restaurants, Evanston - and I'm referring mostly to the area around the Northwestern campus - is disappointing when it comes to good Asian food. But I'll take JK Sweets' curry chicken rice over Joy Yee Noodle Kitchen's overpriced entrees any day. (Oh, but do go to Joy Yee's for bubble tea. Do not get bubble tea at Dozka's.)

As far as chains go, I like Giordano's for deep dish pizza (Monday's are half price! Get there early) and Potbelly sandwiches. Chipotle burritos are another guilty pleasure. Chipotle is owned by McDonalds (agh!) but I'm still obsessed with their burritos.

I like, but have not been overwhelmed, by Dave's Italian Kitchen. And I like Tapas Barcelona, though I'm no tapas expert so perhaps I just don't know what I'm missing. The waiters at Tapas Barcelona also happen to be very good looking.

#11 Schneier

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 10:46 AM

Just go to Trio. Dont go anywhere else.

I think he's making some of the most interesting food in the United States today.

(Although subsisting entirely on Trio food would not be financially feasible for all but a few.)

Bruce

#12 Sweet Willie

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 11:35 AM

(and come on, the 'Dining Capital of the North Shore'?  What's up with that shit)

Ian

Ian,

yes, a little strong tag line. But Evanston is a good food town.

Middle Eastern:

Olive Mountain Restaurant
610 Davis St.
Evanston, IL
Phone: 847.475.0380
Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-3pm
Dinner Mon-Fri 5-9pm Sat 5-10pm Sun 5-8:30pm

Seafood:

Davis St. Fishmarket (Davis & Hinman, a few doors away from Trio)
Good raw bar items, rest of seafood is hit/miss, with my experience being far more hits than misses.

Jamaican/Jerk:

Spice Garden Cafe
2055 Howard St
Chicago, IL
ph: 773.262.7096

Belizean:

Flower Pot
2 blocks south of Howard on Clark

Desserts:

JR has a website: http://www.jrdessertbakery.com
The outlet store is located at 2841 W. Howard (Howard & California) in Chicago.
Phone: 773.465.6733

Belgian Chocolatier Piron
509 Main Street
Evanston, IL 60202
Phone: 847.864.5504

Darn good simple burgers:
Bill’s Drive-In
120 Asbury (Western Ave in Chicago becomes Asbury in Evanston)
Evanston, IL
Hours: 10am-7pm
Phone: 847.491.9844

A good cheesesteak (no really, it does exist in Chicago IMO)
Philly's Best Evanston
815 Emerson (next to Northwestern U campus)
Evanston, IL 847.733.9000
http://www.phillysbest.com/

Italian:
I’ve never been wow’ed by the “new” Dave’s Italian Kitchen
My vote goes for:
Va Pensiero
1566 Oak Avenue
Evanston, Illinois 60201-4234
Phone: 847.475.7779
Or as mentioned above, Campagnola

BBQ:
Some like Hecky’s, I loved it until I traveled and had “real” Q.
Best rib tips on the north shore are served at the Buffalo Joe’s location on Howard, just west Clark.

Misc:
Definitely Lucky Platter for breakfast or lunch:
http://evanstonillinois.net/luckysite/

Tommy Nevins Pub (not to shabby food either) Good live music
1450 Sherman Ave
Evanston, IL
Phone: 847.869.3930

OVERATED/STAY AWAY:
Dixie bait shop and kitchen
Merles

PS: you also have endless taqueria's/Latin in Rogers Park which is just south of Evanston.

Enjoy,

Willie
"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

#13 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 11:44 AM

Tommy Nevins Pub (not to shabby food either) Good live music
1450 Sherman Ave
Evanston, IL
Phone: 847.869.3930

Had my first date ever with my (now) wife there :wub:

Love the Guiness on tap there...best place around for that.

Also, forgot about Va Pensiero...a really nice place too.

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#14 inventolux

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 12:16 PM

Just go to Trio. Dont go anywhere else.

I know you must be only joking, but...

I think I'd get bored even of Trio if it was the only place I went out to eat. Plus, even chefg says that it's about the experience, and not about satiation. When I just want to grab a quick bite of something tasty because I've had a bad day at work and can't face the kitchen, Trio is not going to fit the bill...

I thought I was crazy.
Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:
http://planetgreen.d...tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu
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www.motorestaurant.com

#15 inventolux

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 12:17 PM

Just go to Trio. Dont go anywhere else.

I think he's making some of the most interesting food in the United States today.

(Although subsisting entirely on Trio food would not be financially feasible for all but a few.)

Bruce

Be one of the few, the proud.
Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:
http://planetgreen.d...tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu
Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant
www.motorestaurant.com

#16 MatthewB

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 12:27 PM

I thought I was crazy.

That's just one of the first steps to recovery.

#17 inventolux

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 12:31 PM

I thought I was crazy.

That's just one of the first steps to recovery.

HEHEHEHEHE
Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:
http://planetgreen.d...tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu
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#18 guajolote

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 01:13 PM

And...a few doors west of there is Great Harvest Bread Co., not my fave types of breads, but highly regarded by many.

=R=

I prefer Bennison's Bakery which I think is on Davis just west of the El line. They also have a stall at the Farmer's Market.


#19 Schneier

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 01:20 PM

Just go to Trio. Dont go anywhere else.

I think he's making some of the most interesting food in the United States today.

(Although subsisting entirely on Trio food would not be financially feasible for all but a few.)

Bruce

Be one of the few, the proud.

I'm ready.

Sometimes I dream of living upstairs and ordering takeout from him.

Bruce

#20 ianeccleston

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 07:06 AM

Thanks! I appreceiate all of your input.

However, I probably won't be going to Dave's Italian Kitchen. Why should I pay good money to have pasta with burnt garlic red sauce? I can do better at home.

And, I'm sure I'll be branded as a heretic here at egullet, but I have very little interest in going to Trio (sorry
chefg). I can't afford to go to those kind of restaurants very often - maybe once or twice a year, if that. And for that, I'd rather go to Trotters, North Pond, Blackbird, etc. etc. From everything that I've heard about Trio it sounds like an amazing place - but it seems like there's a bit too much emphasis on innovation. I worry that the meal might be more intellectual, and less substantial (I'm not talking about portion size). I'm a fairly intellectual guy, but on those occasions that I go out, I'd rather have great inventive food instead of, you know, seaweed foam (I'm not going to make the pilgrimage to Adria either). If I had enough money to go to these restaurants more regularly, I might be more willing to give it a try. As it is I probably will go there eventually, but I'm not chomping at the bit. Anyone want to talk me into it?

I will try everything else though. I like the Platter, Campagnola (now Bistro Champagne), and have had Va Pensiero on my list ever since I stayed in the wedding suite at the Marguerita Inn (for my wedding night, in fact).

As a point of interest, Littlemisscrepe, the guy that we're buying the condo from in Evanston owns Tapas Barcelona, and my beautiful wife was a waitress there at one point. :)

Thanks again! I'd love to hear more from everyone - but this is already good enough to print out and go over with my wife. (a hidden benefit of having everything in boxes is the excuse to hit all the cheap restaurants in our old neighborhood before we split - Thai Super Chef, here we come!)

Ian

#21 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 11:12 AM

I prefer Bennison's Bakery which I think is on Davis just west of the El line. They also have a stall at the Farmer's Market.

Yum! I absolutely love their butter cookies...Julie used to work like 1 block from there. Oh, the hazards of the workplace :biggrin:

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#22 ianeccleston

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 07:17 AM

Moved in to the new place last night, woke up early and had breakfast at the Lucky Platter... I have a feeling it won't be the first time. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Ian

#23 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 09:25 AM

Moved in to the new place last night, woke up early and had breakfast at the Lucky Platter... I have a feeling it won't be the first time.  Thanks for all the suggestions!

Ian

The owners, Ken and Eric are friends of mine...tell them I say 'hi'...they once let me use the restaurant for a shoot back in '92 when they were closed on Mondays--just handed us the keys and left us on our own. Very nice guys. I used to live less than a block from there...I really miss it :sad:

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#24 joe999

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 08:05 AM

Getting to this thread kinda late, but since I made the same move (from the city to Evanston) a while ago, I thought I'd add my 2 cents . . .

Homemade Pizza on Central next to Great Harvest has incredibly good cook-it-yourself takeout pizza (try the Savory Pie).

Pita Inn on Dempster in Skokie is a regular stop for hummas, falafel, etc. at incredibly cheap prices (my wife and I eat very well there for $11).

Jilly's Cafe on Greenbay near Central is charming, less expensive, and less pretentious than Jackie's (though Jackie's is definitely good).

Heavenly Hearth in Wilmette makes the best bread on the North Shore.

Know it's a chain, and there are some good independent coffeehouses in Evanston, but Peet's has the best cappucino I've ever had, anywhere.

Bagels at New York Bagels and Bialys on Dempster in Skokie are the real deal.

Though it's true that Downtown Evanston is clogged with chains and other mediocre food choices, here are two good ones: Stained Glass is very good when you're in the mood for a great glass of wine and a civilized dinner with a price tag far south of Trio. And Blue Sapphire is pretty reliable Thai in a setting that is less college-town-grungy than many of the ethnic choices in downtown Evanston.

Second the rec for Piron Chocolate, and also for periodic trips down Clark Street to some of the fabulous Mexican restaurants down there. Our faves included La Cazuela (great ceviche) and Dona Lolis (great squash-blossom quesadillas).

And I definitely envy your proximity to the Chicago-Main Newsstand!


Homemade Pizza Co
2122 Central St
Evanston

Pita Inn
3910 West Dempster
Skokie

Jilly's Cafe
2614 Green Bay Rd.
Evanston

Heavenly Hearth Bread
1101 Central
Wilmette

Peet's
1622 Chicago Avenue
Evanston

New York Bagels and Bialys
3500 Dempster
Skokie

Stained Glass
1735 N Benson
Evanston

Blue Sapphire
1709 Benson Ave.
Evanston

La Cazuela
6922 N. Clark
Chicago

Dona Lolis
6924 N Clark St
Chicago

#25 ianeccleston

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 08:50 AM

Thanks Joe! I didn't know any places on Clark St., exept for the couple of generic taquerias I've been to, plus the tamale stands that Guajalote has suggested in other posts. Pita Inn is one of our favorites too - can't beat the price - it's got to be one of the best falafel places in the area. We want to try Kabul House sometime too - can anyone recommend it?

Ian

#26 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 09:01 AM

We want to try Kabul House sometime too  - can anyone recommend it?

I really love Kabul House...we've ordered it several times for lunch here at my office and it's been consistently good.

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#27 LittleMissCrepe

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 05:11 PM

I add another positive vote for Kabul House. The owner - if it's still the same man - is exceptionally nice as well. I remember him telling my friend and me that he opened up the restaurant about six months after 9/11. Quite unfortunate timing given the name, but it sounds like the restaurant is doing well so I'm glad.

#28 freemaz

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Posted 17 September 2003 - 06:57 AM

Ian -- Hope you are finding all the culinary wonders that the North Shore can offer. Paige and I are just keeping ourselves fed on the old standards. You'll be sad to learn that Condesita on Clark closed its doors a few weeks back. Looks like my weekly trip to get some of their guacamole wasn't quite enough to pay their bills.

In the midst of the craziness of August, Paige and I neglected to get your new address. We'd love to have you and Carrie over for dinner some time so email me at zacharyfreeman@hotmail.com.

Hope you are loving your new place and finding all the delicious, inexpensive food you need. Paige and I like El Tipico, a mexican restaurant on Dempster. It isn't anything out of this world, but it is a nice, family Mexican restaurant. Comfy leather chairs are a plus too.

Zac

#29 maggiethecat

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Posted 17 September 2003 - 08:07 AM

Welcome to eGullet and to the Heartland Forum, Zac.

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#30 Alex

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 09:41 PM

We've never been to Evanston, so for our Chicagoland visit next weekend I was thinking it might be fun to spend the day there. We'll probably focus on the downtown area. On Metromix I saw five likely lunch candidates: Joy Yee's Noodles, Lulu's, Mt. Everest, Noodle Garden, and Potbelly Sandwich Works. I'd appreciate any opinions about these, or about any others I've overlooked.

Also, any suggestions about interesting places, stores, etc. would be greatly appreciated as well.
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