Restaurant Reviews for Evanston, Illinois - By Calin Day

Disclaimer
As an Evanston local, I've eaten at almost all the restaurants in town at least once. While I don’t purport to be a fine cuisine connoisseur,  I do participate in the great art of food. I eat more than my fair share, and I’ve found it necessary to write down my thoughts about local restaurants so as to remember for myself which ones are worth going back to. Also, if you're super-motivated, you can check out my reviews on Yelp. I'm an avid reviewer and eater, so buckle up!

Having been employed in the restaurant and service industry from age 12 to 24, I've been a dishwasher, bartender, server, host, manager, cook, fry cook, bus-boy, bell-boy and valet.       

My ratings are based on $10 or less for lunch, the atmosphere, quality of food, music, and service.

Legend:
***** 5 Stars possible.
* = Avoid it.
*?*=Not reviewed yet.
(Stars - * - are not related strictly to cost, but also to quality of overall experience and food.)
Those listed with: (Outdoor Seating) have outdoor seating for warm days.      

Walker Brothers ***** (Green Bay Road - Technically Wilmette )
 You won’t be disappointed with this place. Unless, of course, you go on a Sunday for breakfast, because the line is literally out the door and down the block! I’ve waited in line for this place for up to an hour or more just for breakfast, so go after noon, or hit it as soon as they open, because when 9-10am rolls around, there’s no seating to be found!

LePeep ** (Church/Benson)
 A well-known chain, this place is extremely standard, even though their prices are higher than they probably should be for the quality of the fare they serve up. Not impressive, but breakfast none the less. (Outdoor Seating)

Golden Olympic *** (Davis/Chicago)
 www.goldenolympicevanston.com
 Breakfast can be had at this amazingly affordable local jointat any time of the day. Dinner can too, for that matter, which makes this place a good one for fussy folks who are used to having it on their time their way. Great for in-laws and other folks on a budget.

Lucky Platter *** (Main street)
www.luckyplatter.com
This rather interesting place is located east of Chicago on Main, and is usually very busy on the weekends for breakfast, so be sure to have a "plan B" if you arrive and it'sfull, or arrive early! The fare is also rather off the wall and unique, but if you ask nicely, they'll bring you warm cornbread with your meal, yum!

Blind Faith Cafe ****
www.blindfaithcafe.com
I had very low expectations of a vegetarian place for breakfast, but was pleased with what I found to be a wonderful dining experience. (All except for the wait beforehand, that is.) The wait staff here is very professional and attentive, and the quality of the food is exceptional. The patrons were the worst part, but the local Evanston folks like myself can be an odd bunch. It's a bit more expensive than I would like, but natural food always is. The seitan, eggs, and pancakes are good. If you're looking for dessert - the Peanut Butter Chocolate Vegan cake is the best, and I do mean the best, (better than Chicago Diner), that I've ever had. The carrot cake is good too, and the latte's are decent and go very well with the cake.

Bat 17 *** (Church/Benson)              
www.bat17evanston.com
I went in for breakfast, and the green chile omelet sandwich (The Diego) was really, really good. Oh, and free coffee? Yep, they have it!

Clarke's Cafe *** Clark (basically Emerson, which becomes Golf, sort of.)
http://www.clarkesdiner.com/
The college kids from Northwestern pack this joint to the gills every waking hour of the day. They have hot sauce on the table, serve excellent sweet potato fries, and a very busy wait staff. Their prices are decent, but the food isn't all that great, nor is the atmosphere, unless you like lots of noise with your food.

Panera Bakery *** (Church/Sherman)
Good bagels and soup. Decent salads and sandwiches. Good coffee and tea. Normal Service, normal prices. The bread, which you can have sliced, is also very good.

Einstein Bagels ** (Clark/Sherman)
Einstein Bagels no longer has an excellent Green Chili Bagel! Boo. The coffee isn't terrible for automatic drip, and the prices compare to Panera and other Bagel places, though without that bagel, I've downgraded them a star.

World Bagel, Formerly Bagel Art *** (Chicago/Dempster)
http://www.bagelartevanston.com/
Great local bagel place. Get six to go - (or delivered!) with a bunch of cream cheese and you won’t be sorry you did. ;-) The prices aren't bad and the bagels almost as good as the New York Bagel in Skokie.

Bennisons Bakery **** (Davis, 1 blk. East of the Post Office)
http://www.bennisonscakes.com/
A bakery that’s been in business for quite some time, and will continue to do so. Old fashioned bakery fare that hits the sweet spot right in the kisser. Excellent for pies, cakes, andother baked goods. Their sandwiches are also quite good in the toaster oven!

Tag's Bakery **** (Central, 3 blks West of Green Bay)
http://www.tagscakes.com/ 
My wife and I ordered our 2nd wedding cake from this bakery, and I must say that the cake was delicious, the price spot on, and the service the local friendly kind you always look for but rarely find.

Prairie Joes * (Just west of Green Bay on Central)
I had high hopes for this local breakfast joint. But alas, it turned out to be a cash-only dirty spoon with a meal I could easily cook at home that would taste better and cost much less. The table was wet. The place needs a good cleaning, the wait staff needs work on their manners and, well, basic job training. Blind Faith Cafe and Lucky Platter kick the farking crap out of this joint any day of the week for almost the same amount of money spent.

Firehouse Grill Breakfast ** (Chicago/Kedzie, 1 blk south of Main)
I finally tried the Firehouse Grill Sunday Brunch. Skip it and cook at home unless you're too lazy. But if you are, then don't expect much bang for your buck.
I could cook circles around these guys for breakfast with no staff and an electric stovetop.

Sarkis * (Gross Point Road/Central, just north of Golf, near Skokie)

Here is my review for Sarkis in Evanston...
Sarkis must be Greek for "Batshit Crazy".

I arrived at 11:40am on Saturday. I sat at the bar, next to the register, and was given a menu 15 minutes after I arrived. My coffee order was taken at noon. At least 8 "walk-in standup to-go orders", plus the four other people on either side of me, ordered before me, without my order being asked.

By 12:30pm, I was convinced I was wearing a Harry Potter invisibility cloak.
The guy who got me coffee went to take the order of three other people standing behind me, and I stopped him short, demanding he take mine. Hell, I was sitting right in front of him! Right there! No food!
He sheepishly took my order, and got me a second cup of coffee, finally.

During my "stay", I learned that my seat at the bar is the de facto bus tub.
The staff sets all of the dirty dishes at that spot on the counter.

Apparently the tiny, and I do mean smaller than my tiny galley kitchen in my condo, kitchen at Sarkis has the smallest dishwasher on the planet beneath their register.

More health code violations were made during my day long visit, (I got my order, minus toast, at 1:15pm), than I care to write. The worst consisted of the guy washing the dishes. Apparently, he is also a cook.

Everyone handles the dirty money, as it is cash only, including all the cooks.
Dirty dishes and half eaten food next to my plate are just the tip of the iceberg at this joint. Wow.

Anyway, the food did arrive, and the toast and more coffee after I asked twice. It was decent. Greasy, but that's what I expected and rather enjoy. To say that the warren of patrons was a fire hazard wouldn't do the barely controlled chaos that is Sarkis justice. I have never seen a slow motion train wreck, but Sarkis is pretty close to the real thing. The patrons and staff average 20 years in age, which made it strangely fun to watch.

If I ever go back, and yes, I tipped them like 35% because I know what it's like to be Batshit Sarkis Crazy, (and to shame them into doing better), I will be sure to bring my loudest friend, just so my damn order will get in.

Brothers K Cafe **** (Hinman/Main)
www.brotherskcoffee.com               
If you're a local, you'll love this place. If you're not, you might not like the wait in line. The Brothers K, (K is     for Kim, their last name, as I recall), is a wonderful place to hang out and drink tons of coffee while chewing on the cookies, quiche, or a scone. They're also two nice brotherswho always remember you and what you like to order if you're a regular. The staff and patrons are always filled with interesting characters of the local variety. (Outdoor Seating)

The Other Brother Cafe **** (Sherman/Grove)
 
www.otherbrothercoffee.com
John has opened a second location, which is run by Tim. If you're downtown, you can enjoy the same excellent coffee creations as Brother's K on Main! The new place is smaller, but the service and the coffee are just as good! Stop by for a small latte on your busy workday sometime, you'll be glad you did! (Outdoor Seating)

La Macchina Café **** (North of Orrington/Davis)
Stop by for a Latte or Espresso, Chris Casas is back with a new location, and his coffee is as good as it's always been! (See the Italian section further down the page for more information about the restaurant.)

The Unicorn Café *** 2 Blks N. of Davis on Sherman
www.unicorncafe.com
This place dances well to the local beat. The muffins kick assand the coffee and tea-pot are quite good. (they have fresh beans and leaves) Free reading material and outdoor tables make this    place a fave for those looking to unwind in the morning before (or during), the rat-race. (Great outdoor seating on warm days here.) (Outdoor Seating)

Kaffeen **** 1/2 block north of Davis on Chicago
An excellent coffee/tea house with perks. It's open late, caters to the young crowd at night, but caters to codgers like me who want peace and quiet for lunch during their crazy work day. I love going here for a quiet, (and HUGE!), sandwich for lunch on days when I'm looking to relax.

Dollop Coffee & Hoosier Mama Pie Company *** (Chicago/Kedzie)
These two business are wrapped into one package in the newly completed apartment complex at Chicago/Kedzie in Evanston. I had very high hopes for both the coffee and the pie. They do have excellent seating - plenty of it. The coffee, after all, is from Metropolis, and the pie, well - pie is good, right? Sigh. I've gotten a latte over 4 times, and each time, it takes over 5 minutes to make. I keep telling myself to walk the extra five steps to Brother's K instead. Now I often do. The pie - well - I don't bake much, but when I do, I bake a better pie than the two I tried here. Oh well, pie will make you fat anyway, right? And coffee, well, go down the street to Brother's K - it will take less time than ordering one here and it will taste twice as good.

Peet’s Coffee/Tea Just North of Chicago/Davis *** (Chicago/Davis)
 
Great Dragon tea here. Hand sorted, and in a large hot-pot.

Starbucks, North on Sherman from Walgreen’s, also on Main/Chicago ***
Haven’t had a Starbucks coffee yet? Worth at least one try!  Get a latte, or a cappuccino.

Dunkin Donuts *** (Purple Line Davis Stop EL & Sherman/Clark)
 This chain has really stepped up their coffee campaign. It’s on par or better than Starbucks in many cases…

Barnes & Noble *** (Church/Sherman)
This monster-sized bookstore also happens to have conveniently located Starbucks service bar in it. They serve up a mean latte and have a variety of food choices if you're looking for a place to read and eat in peace and quiet with service that's usually much faster than other places.

Coldstone Creamery *** (Sherman/Davis)
Damn good ice cream here. All sorts of goodies to put in it too.

Red Mango *** (Benson/Davis)
Real frozen yogurt, very different than the typical sugary stuff! I like it.
A large for lunch isn't a bad option. The strawberries are quite good on the original.             

Andy's Frozen Custard*** (Church/Orrington, near Barnes & Noble)
This place has it all! They make every sort of ice-cream concoction you can imagine, and then some.   I'm a straightforward guy, and plain vanilla is an excellent choice.

Jilly's Cafe ***** (Green Bay Road, Near Central)
www.jillyscafe.com
WOW. I almost didn't write a review for this place, because I want to keep it all to myself. I can't give this place enough stars. It's a hidden gem on Green Bay. The prices are high, but that's okay, because the service and the food will make you forget the cost. Go for a romantic dinner when money isn't an issue, and you won't be disappointed.

The Peckish Pig **** Howard and Callan
thepeckishpig.com
Get the bread, it is great! If you like pork, try the pork meatballs. Those are the house specialty, and also quite good. The list of Scotch, Bourbon, and Wiskey is quite extensive, and very good selections are to be tried. The popcorn is a nice extra to have around, and there are plenty of seats both at the bar, on a couch, at a table, or in a room filled with people listening to poetry with their dinner. A nice addition to a rather neglected part of town from the folks who brought us The Celtic Knot!

Davis Street Fish Market **** Davis and Hinman (East toward the lake.)
www.davisstreetfishmarket.com
Excellent Catfish here. The chowder isn’t as good as it was when I went to New England, but then, nowhere has matched that experience thus far. The prices are typically higher as aresult of getting the fresh fish further inland to Chicago, so be prepared to spend a bit more. I’d go for a dinner date, or one of the weekly specials. The service was decent, and the atmosphere a unique mariner style.

The Stained Glass ***** (Benson/Davis, on Benson)
 www.thestainedglass.com
I've been to The Stained Glass twice to spend the $100+ dollars on dinner, and I can honestly say I was thrilled. It felt like going to a fine day-spa and being pampered by some of the best wait staff I’ve ever had. Do a wine flight, the filet mignon, the chicken, pomme frites, and a salad. Go early, get reservations, or don't go. Spectacular! 5 Stars well earned.

Lyfe Kitchen*** (Davis at Orrington Plaza)
This restaurant opened in May, and when I visited, was filled to the brim with customers. There are three menus - Vegan, Vegetarian, and Everything. I tried the Fish Tacos, Veggie Burger, Buffalo Chicken Strips, Salad, and Sweet Potato Fries. Only the fries weren't very good. (Baked, not fried, is why - too soggy.) The rest was very good, fresh, and well presented. The menu system and ordering needs some work, and the glass water glasses are dangerous on a tile floor with water, though the staff was competent and the atmosphere was pleasant. They need a "to-go" and "phone-only" person for the rush so that the rest of the patrons can order at the register, ditch the glass glasses for plastic, and a better way for staff to find your table. However, I'd stay give it a try - especially if you're vegetarian.

Found - Kitchen & Social House **** (Chicago/Church)
The atmosphere of Found reminds me of an eccentric rich grandparent who’s seen more than their fair share of the world, who then invited you into their rather resplendent home for dinner made by the in-house staff. I had flashbacks of the Winchester Manor, The House on the Rock, and Taliesin in Wisconsin. As for lunch, it began with the aperitif, as it should. I’ve had run-ins with the Green Fairy in my past, and she is a spiteful little tart, for certain. I was happy to learn this wasn’t the absinthe I’d had in the past. (The little Green Bint and I still aren’t talking!) On to the food… As an appetizer, I had the stone fruit/apricot/cherries/mozzarella cheese & spices dish. Quite nice, though lacking a bit of something crunchy – I found myself wanting crackers or toast with it, so, when they brought out the arugula parmesan cheese flatbread, I was glad it was crunchy and quite tasty. After that, I tried the Szechwan tofu sandwich, and was not disappointed with the pickled spice flavors. In between bites, it was nice to get a chance to try some of the local Temperance brewery beer. To top off the rather wild assortment of various flavors, I had the chocolate mousse crème fresh shortbread pudding – it was a lot like grown up naughty s ‘mores in a way that left me at once wanting more and yet satisfied enough to wait for dinner.

The Alcove **** (Main/Hinman)
This tiny restaurant/bar has France and New York written all over it. It's great! The panini (panino) was so good I had two. A single keg for beer, a couple of wines to choose from, and a full bar - complete with Dean Martin tunes and just enough elbow room to talk with the person next to you. Simple, small, clean, prompt, and a nice change from the norm. The place is also open until 11pm, so even a New Yorker would be happy to eat late. Cheers! I hope this place stays around a while.

Delbe's Corner (Davis/Maple) **** (Across street from Evanston Post Office)
Delbe's Corner - Website
An East-Coast steamer sandwich place has finally found its way to Evanston! Hurray!
"What's a ""Steamer""? you might ask - well, let's just say they're rare, and usually only found on the East Coast, so get ready! They're ahhh-mazing! They also have really good coffee. If you want bragging rights over those who "aren't in the know" - GO! GO NOW! YUM!

Rollin' To Go (Italian-American) **** (East of Ridge on Noyes, near tracks)
 www.rollin2go.com
So a friend of mine was eating a really yummy looking sandwich, and I got jealous, of course. When I asked him where he got it, he said, "Rollin' To Go - have you heard of them?" Sadly, I had not. However, that has now been corrected! Across the street from D&D Finer Foods and D&D Dogs, near the El Tracks, is Rollin' To Go. I ordered a "St. James" - a bacon-cheese-chicken sandwich on warm flatbread and home made spicy chips. If you want naughty, this is SO your place to eat! Excellent! They also do Pizza, but I'll hold my review on their calzones until I've tried one. Hope they live up to Mama's Boy back home! Oh, and they're local, you can dine in, they have a flat screen for the games, and they're not a chain. Straight up Yum!   

Arlen's Chicken (Southern American) *?* (East of Ridge on Noyes, near tracks, where DMK Burger once was)
 www.arlenschicken.com
Arlen's Chicken is a DMK restaurant, with a new spin on an old favorite - fried chicken. The menu is simple, and very reasonably priced.
They also have several types of milkshakes, which oddly sounds delicious when paired with fried chicken and a biscuit. Just be sure to eat healthy the rest of the week, and I'm sure you'll be fine.

Jimmy John's Subs, Subway, Pot Belly
Ahh, the Sub sandwich. You know this song… the prices are almost all the same.
However, the atmosphere is different for each. Get it to go at Subway. Dine in or carry-out at Johnny’s. The same could be said for Pot Belly and Quiznos.
If I had to pit any of them against one another, or rate themfrom top to bottom, it would go something like this:
*** Jimmy John’s Subs, good service, not toasted,  but good subs and sandwiches. 2 blocks north of Davis,      on Sherman.  
*** Subway, what else do I need to say? If you haven’t eaten here, go do it now so you know. 1 block south        of Davis on Orrington
  * Pot Belly, sometimes over-the-top corny service, no service, bad service. Often I’ve had bad customers who cut, go past you to pay, order over you, around you, and ignore your existence in general. These folks need to work on their method of building the sub as well, the counter is also too high/far away for you to see the ingredients or for the person building it to hear you in some cases. Right at Davis and Orrington. (Outdoor Seating)
    Quiznos closed!

Claire's Korner - Authentic Jamacian **** - (Emerson/Dodge) - 847.328.7650
Wow! This place is the real deal. It is some of the best Jamacian I've had, and the best I've had as far north as Chicagoland. The red beans and rice, the jerk chicken, the ginger beer. It is excellent! It's tiny, so get it to go.

Kingston Grill - Authentic Jamaican **** - (Dempster/Dodge Plaza)
Another Excellent place to get a Jerk Chicken, fried plantains, red beans/rice, and a variety of other yummy Jamacian food for an excellent price. The staff was friendly, and the food arrived quickly after I ordered it. I got it to go, but they do have tables and lots of Jamaican culture - ja mon!              

Hecky's BBQ **** (Corner of Green Bay and Emerson/Golf)
 
www.Heckys.com
Hecky's BBQ is, (as I knew it would be), outstanding! You can order online. Their prices are great, the food is better, and they deliver! The crew was full of smiles, and the locals love the place. You cannot dine in, so be sure to have a place in mind or get it delivered. I tried the hot BBQ full slab of ribs, and was glad I did. If you are looking for excellent catfish, chicken, or ribs, look no further. I also hear that the mac'n'cheese and gumbo are amazing.

Prairie Moon *** (1 blk S. of Davis on Sherman/Grove)
 www.prairiemoonrestaurant.com
 All around good food & pool table and bar included type of place. The prices are normal for an All-American Prairie style dinner. Some good off-the-wall selections of fare help make this place stand out a bit from the rest. Try the chowder, one of the many beers on their list, or a salad. All are good. However, if for some reason you have a male waiter, you might want to get a different seat. I'm not sure why, but the guys, including one of the bartenders, don't wait tables worth a damn.(I know, because I'm male, and I've been a waiter for many years in my past.) The ladies at the place however, kick ass at their job. I'm not sure why it's that way, but it is. I've eaten here many times, and it's a trend I've witnessed enough to write it down. (Outdoor Seating)

Boltwood Evanston *?* (Davis at Sherman)
boltwoodevanston.com
Market price bordering on the higher side, this one is a "farm to table" restaurant with fresh ingredients that are local in nature, by and large. I've heard good things about the rotational menu, and plan to stop in soon to at least try the cheese.

Bluestone *** (Central/Green Bay)
Bluestone has smoked buffalo wings! That in and of itself is worth the trip, as the only other place I've had them is Austin, TX. That said, their salads, pizza, and drink specials are also decent. Go early or get ready to fight for a seat, as the place tends to fill up rather quickly, and don't forget extra napkins!

Farmhouse ***  Church St. at Orrington
farmhouseevanston.com
The interior of Farmhouse has particularly nice wooden tables and a refreshing layout from the past few restaurants to grace the venue. Upon arrival of the drink menu, it was truly nice to see a variety of Mead listed. That in and of itself is almost enough to write home about. As for the food, the beef jerky was a bit on the salty side, though the almonds are a nice touch. The Chips and chive dip was an interesting take on an old classic, and while the cheese curds were good - the ketchup was a bit of an odd pairing with it, which is why I was happy to try the garlic sauce instead. The veggie burger was indeed a strange item - it tasted a bit like crunchy tempura on the outside, and though the bun could definitely be improved upon, it was nice to see that hot sauce was available upon request. The walleye fish was extrordinary and very well prepared, and at the end, the burbon carmel corn ice cream and bread pudding with blackberries dishes were both worth having. I will say that our table suffered, strangely, from a bit too much service. The staff asked to take plates away about five times, which made our table feel a bit more rushed than required for a slow weeknight.

Pete Miller's Steakhouse *** (1 blk S. of Davis on Sherman)
Very expensive, nice atmosphere, pool tables by-the-hour. A true Chicago, (once) smoke-filled, meat-eating, hard-drinking heaven. If some crotchety old bastard bitches and whines at you to get out of his way as he plays pool when you enter, tell him to piss off! Then order a drink and try to get a table. (Either a pool table or a normal one, you choose.) Or skip the bar area all together and order yourself a huge slab of meat as you sit in their wood laden dining room. Call ahead to see how busy it is, this place fills up quick on weekends. They don’t do lunch.

Cosi (American Fusion) *** (Clark/Sherman)
This place is okay for lunch, and they seem to have finally learned how to allow a customer to customize a salad. It's still not a place I go often, but the bread is quite good if you catch it fresh out of the oven, and self-serve refills on drinks are always nice.

Golden Olympic ** (Davis/Chicago)
www.goldenolympicevanston.com              
This establishment has the feel of a good diner. It’s definitely priced reasonably, and reminds me of the places many grandparents like to frequent before the “kids” go out to eat. Good chicken, pie, and other “normal American and Greek fare” can be had here for a reasonable price in a nicely rehabbed space.

Buffalo Joe’s *** (2 blks North of Davis, then West.)
 Hot wings, oh, the hot wings! Gotta love them. These guys do spicy-grease style hot wings like no other.

Chicken Shack *** (Ridge/Emerson, 1/2 blk. North)
http://www.evanstonchickenshack.com
The chicken shack only takes cash, so bring some! If you order ahead you'll wait less, and I'd avoid delivery, just call 847.328.9360. That said, this place is great! Take-out only, and no drinks. Just chicken, the way your auntie from the South used to fry it! YUM. Affordable, plentiful, yummy, and no fancy clothes needed. My kind of place. 

Cheesie's Pub & Grub *** (Davis/Orrington)
 
http://cheesieschicago.com/
Cheesie's is a very popular place with the Northwestern crowd. The sandwiches, soups, and fries will take you back to childhood quickly if your parents ever made you a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. The American classics are all here, as well as a few interesting spins on what amounts to large white bread, cheese, butter, and a frying pan. They have tater tots, sweet potato fries, and curly fries, as well as several soups and other items. There's even a Pac-Man game to take you back. And the prices won't break your bank.

Cross-Rhodes **** (Chicago Ave., just north of Main)
http://crossrhodes.biz
Damn good Chicken vinegar Greek-fries and Gyros here. Not much on décor, but the price and service is right. Excellent chicken. Cash only, as I recall, but well worth a visit.

Bat 17 *** (Benson/Church, near the Davis stop)
www.bat17evanston.com
The bread here is purchased from Bennisons, and the sandwiches are big enough to fall on top of you, push you out of your chair, and crush you. Then you'll be forced to eat your way out, but you'll be happy about it. Get ready for a rush though, because lunch is usually packed full of people! They have a ton of beer on tap too.

EDZO'S Burger Shop **** (Sherman/Davis/Orrington)
edzos.com

Next door to Trattoria Demi, across from the Rotary Building, is Edzo's. The burgers are fresh, fat, and come with not only a pile of goodies, but a compact round bun with loads of room to soak up the burger goodness. The angry fries will scream in your mouth while you eat them, and the fountain drinks are easy to reach. If you want a burger, you should give this place a try.

Sarpinos Pizza *** (Main/McCormick)
www.gosarpinos.com
The delivery was prompt, the pizza was good, but the bread sticks and wings need work. I couldn't complain, however, because Sarpinos does it right when it comes to price. Good in a pinch and at a loss for what to serve at a party.

Carmen’s Pizza *** (Chicago/Dempster)
Chicago Style, Deep Dish Pizza is the best weight-gainer any bodybuilder could ever ask for on the market today. And Carmen's is the some of the best damn pizza I've consistently had over the years. Delivery is always an option, and their establishment is fun too.

Gigio's Pizza - *** (Davis/Maple)
SSHH! Don't tell anyone, but I sneak over to get a couple of slices of Gigio's Pizza once in a while. It's a guilty pleasure, cheap, fast, and good! The locals know about it, and many of them hang out here for lunch. The place is a little light on atmosphere, but you can get it to go, or delivery: 847.328.0990
Sneak over some time and get a big slice, you won't be sad you did. ;-)

Giordano’s Pizza ** - (Chicago at Davis)
Fair Chicago style deep dish pizza. Never had anything else they serve.

Blaze Pizza - *** (Sherman/Clark)
Blaze is excellent. You watch your pizza being made before your eyes, and about 10 minutes later, it's hot out of the oven and ready to eat. The price is very affordable and the location has fountain drinks and tables to eat at. If you haven't been to this place, you should Blaze on over for a pie.

Union Pizzeria *** - aka "Space" (Chicago/Dempster)
Cougars love space. They like to roam the open plains looking for prey. That said, the pizza here is pretty good. The bar, however, tends to close early and the bartenders can get a bit impatient if they want to go home. Maybe the cougars scare them... The prices match the upscale decor, but the atmosphere overall helps lessen the sticker shock for the drinks. The food is more reasonably priced.

D&D Dogs, D&D Finer Foods *** (Noyes/Sherman)
My buddy's family owns this local joint. It's got good gyros, fries, and greek salad, and a full-size grocery store right behind it! The prices are low and the service is quick and friendly. Drop by for a dog!

 Steak and Shake ** (Far south and west of downtown on Oakton)
If you work at Home Depot, or Petco, you’re probably very familiar with this place. They have very good milkshakes, burgers, and fries. However, my to-go milkshake came in a Styrofoam cup, which kind of takes the fun out of it. (that crap lasts like 500 years, you know.) Anyway, it’s a good to go Burger Joint.

Burger King ½ a * (Orrington/Clark)
Fast food, anyone? Ubiquitous Burger Joint. Good for those addicted to McDonalds who don’t have one here anymore. I gave up fast food, by the way, can you tell?

The Rhythm Room * (Century 21 Theaters, Church/Maple)
Nothing against the staff, but the food here is horrible. I've met two people who have been sick after eating here. The drinks are expensive, but the atmosphere and the pool table help make up for it a bit.

Bar Louie * (Sherman/Grove)
It isn't just me who dislikes Bar F-U Louie: http://mkeslist.blogspot.com/2006/09/bar-louie.html
Here's a scenario for you: Let's say you'd like to eat at Bar Louie, (a chain restaurant), but don't have quarters for the meter right outside. You'd think the waiter, bartender, hostess, or manager on duty would have the ability to exchange a dollar for four quarters, complete with a smile, right? You'd be wrong. Not only did my friend ask nicely, but he was rudely turned down by three employees there, and, I quote, "There is no change in the entire restaurant." said the Bartender. Bullshit, if you ask me. Go next door to Prairie Moon instead. I hear they're willing to change, as obviously, Bar Louie is not. If you absolutely have to eat here, get ready to pay through the nose, as everything is overpriced, including their martini's.

The Sher-Main Diner * ½ * (Main Street)
This place barely gets two stars, (ok 1 and a half). Talk about breakfast and grease. This place needs a new roof! It’s definitely cheap, and definitely a local joint. But the tea, service, and food weren’t half bad, so I can’t knock it completely off the list. They’ll cook to order, so have them burn the hell out of your potatoes, and disregard the Russian mafia that eats at the table…

Cafe 527 in Evanston **** - (At 527 Davis Street, Evanston)
www.527cafedavis.com
 The Korean Taco is excellent sushi in the form of a beef steak taco, don't ask me how that's even possible. The spicy popcorn chicken and wasabi mayo had an excellent tang and makes me think of chicken in a whole new way. The egg rolls are solid, and the plum sauce sweet potato fries are quite dangerous. The Kimchi Beef fried rice was everything I want beef fried rice to be, yet hadn't had it until now.

Joy Yee Chinese **** Davis (East toward the lake/Hinman.)
 
An excellent place overall. The atmosphere is “busy”, and this place thrives on speedy delivery, both in and out ofthe restaurant. The exotic blended tea drinks are on par with those from “Jamba Juice” and other “smoothie only” joints, but the food at Joy Yee is some of the better Chinese I’ve ever eaten. The string beans are fresh, the chicken is too. The vegetarian and non-vegetarian egg rolls aregood, and their seafood soup, curry, noodles, and rice dishes are all prepared by someone from the old country who learned how to spin it with American flavors. The prices are standard, and the service is prompt. If you’re looking for   authentic Chinese, look no further.

Peppercorn **** Davis at Orrington
Traditional Chinese here folks - not your run of the mill American stuff. Try the dry tea-tree mushroom dish - splendid! Try any of the chili soups - fish, beef, etc. The beef was great, and the fish version looked amazing as well. They're huge, so you won't go hungry! Also, the hand-made tea was a nice iced-tea variant, a bit sweet, like southern sweet tea, but good. I also tried the tofu with garlic sauce - not as good. Overall, I'd go back - lots to choose from here!

Lao Sze Chuan *** (Orrington/Davis)
This locally famous Chinese chain has arrived in Evanston. The food is traditional Chinese, and not what many Americans have come to expect from Chinese cuisine. While I find this rather refreshing from a palate standpoint, I do have a few minor things to point out in my review. The first - expect to wait. Wait for a seat, wait for food, wait for service, and wait for the check. This crew is not in a rush, and much more European in their attitude regarding service. The second, expect different food, even for the same dish you've had elsewhere. This is because they prepare it in what I'd call "home kitchen" style. The third, order a lot - share a lot - and you won't be disappointed. This place is "family style" - that is, everyone shares each dish. I had a pot sticker and dried chili tofu. The tofu wasn't as spicy as I'd like, though the pot sticker was good. If you're in a rush - order it to go and it will come out much faster. Lastly, if you want "big bowl" American-style Asian - go to Joy Yee.

Cozi’s (Thai) **** (Davis/Oak)
 www.cozyevanston.com
Cute little place, with a rehab to update the style, which favors old movie posters and other oddities. The service is very friendly, and the size of the place reminds you what it’s like to have a good cup of soup in a little café somewhere in small town. The curry with crispy rice noodles and chicken is one of my favorites.

Todoroki Hibachi **** (Davis/Chicago)
A beautiful re-hab, excellent atmosphere, and music. The sushi for lunch was excellent, though it was created rather slowly, and took a while to arrive at our table. (It wasn't busy at the restaurant...) - The service needs work, and will take some time to get everyone trained properly. The Hibachi looks excellent - I will try it next time.

Pinto *** (Central/Green Bay 1/2 blk west.)
 An adorable Asian restaurant with excellent egg rolls, tom yum soup, veggie rolls, and traditional thai dishes. The service was prompt and polite, the prices are reasonable, and the food is quite good. And right next to the Spice House! You can't go wrong.

Little Wok **** (Main/McCormick)
www.Little-Wok.com
Little Wokis in the mall area near Main/McCormick. I had the pork spare ribs Korean style, egg rolls, soup, and tea. It was excellent! In addition to good food at a very reasonable price, they also deliver!

Koi **** (Davis/Orrington)
 www.koievanston.com
Koi’s sushi was quite good, on par with many a sushi place I’ve been before. The prices are average for the sushi market, and the atmosphere is quite nice with a fireplace in the lobby and plasma screens at the bar in back. They also serve excellentChinese food. Get ready to wait, however, as the lines for this place add up quick.

Kan Sa Ku **** (Sherman/Grove, 1 blk. South of Davis on Sherman)
 
I tried the pork on a recommendation from two friends. Damn it was good! I've also since had the Sushi, and it was fresh.

Soulwich *** (1634 Orrington Ave.)
This little unassuming sandwich place has an interesting spin - it's filled with fresh vegetarian veggies on large cuban-style sandwich rolls accompanied by home-made kettle chips with interesting Asian spices and flavors all around. I tried the wasabi chips and a spice grill sandwich - not bad! If you're looking for an affordable vegan/veggie-friendly option, give this place a try.

Dozika*** (Corner of Chicago/Dempster)
Dozika has fair prices, the sushi was good, but not stupendous,  and they have excellent tapioca drinks/shakes. The service was decent, and I found parking at a meter right outside.

Sashimi Sashimi *** (Orrington/Church)
Atmosphere is sparse. Sushi was normal. Service was good when I went, but it’s pretty much take and go. The prices weren’t bad for Sushi, so I can’t really complain.

Kuni *** (East of Chicago on Main)
So I finally went in to Kuni for dinner. (I live about a block away, so one would figure it would be a given.) At any rate, it was decent sushi for a reasonable price. It's very "California Traditional", if one could say that about Sushi. They give you hot towels, Sake in a square bowl on a plate to drink from, and the traditional choice of Sushi at a reasonable price. They have beef and chicken for those who don't like the fish, and a kind staff who all know what they're doing. They also have valet parking, and they're closed on Tuesdays.

Hunan Spring ** (Chicago/South)
This Chinese joint has grown on me over the years. Their fare is reliable Chinese, and the service is interesting. (Family run/owned)  One can get soup, egg roll, and dinner to-go, or delivered, for a reasonable price. I'd put them only one or two steps below Joy Yee. They’re close to my home, right next to Walgreens on Chicago, and one of the few restaurants south of Main.

Flat Top Grill *** (Church/Orrington)
I’ve eaten here time and again. Not because I like the atmosphere, but because I love to make my own food and see it prepared on a giant flat top griddle. There is definitely something to be said for making your own food, if you’re into that type of thing. The seating in this place is “a bit close for comfort” sometimes, and don’t come here during thelunch rush if you’re not interested in having a stranger sit next to you. Also avoid this place if you’re not interested in spending more than 10 bucks for lunch. The service is a mix of self-serve and wait staff, as well as the professional plate messenger who brings the food to your table after it’s been cooked. Overall, I’d say give this one a shot if you like stir-fry and self-reliance. (Outdoor Seating)

Siam Paragon **** (Main/Hinman)
Love the atmosphere, the service, and the food. The prices are reasonable and the variety on the menu was unexpected. It fits in well with the other two Asian restaurants, Kuni and Oceanique for taste, but is much nicer to your wallet. Try the green tea ice cream. It's very interesting.

Noyes Street, Manchurian-Korean Restaurant *** (Noyes)
Looking for an egg roll that’s out of the way? Want some Bee-Bim-Bop that doesn't taste like an American made it?  This little out of the way place has some real local charm, some of the best Kim-chee that I’ve ever eaten, and damn good service. I love local joints that aren’t so well known. Go to Noyes on Green Bay, take a right, drive until just under the “el” tracks. Look for parking on the north side of the street. Damn good. Now it’s not a secret anymore, oh well.

Koco Table *** (Clark/Sherman)
www.kocotable.com
Koco table has come a long way from it's former days as "JK Sweets".
It still has the ice cream and soda, though now that aspect is much less pronounced, and the Korean dishes that the kitchen serves up are large, warm, inviting, and tasty.
My lunch was also promptly served, and the spicy dishes can be adjusted up in heat, which I appreciate as a super-hot pepper enthusiast. :-) 냠의 냠 !

Noodles& Company *** (Church/Maple on Church)
This place should be called: “The Normal Noodle”. The noodle place “isn’t bad”, but not to my taste. The atmosphere is pretty normal, the service is normal,  and the food is normal. If you like stir-fry noodles, you’lllike this one. The prices are normal for lunch. Oh, did I mention this place is normal? I have discovered that their Mac N Cheese is quite good.

The Sea Ranch ***  Dempster/Chicago
A nice little Sushi joint across the street from Blind Faith Cafe. They have fresh Sushi and Sushi-to-go. Stop in if you're in a rush to get home after 5pm and want Sushi in front of the TV but don't want to make your own! Nice folks run the place and the prices are reasonable. The Sushi is tasty, and the variety is good.

VaPensiero **** (Oak/Davis, on Oak)
This place, under the Margarita Inn, is about as formal as it gets. A valet will park your car out front, but only if you’re dressed appropriately. Oh, and get ready to spend some money, because the good eats and wine here don’t come cheap. Italian fare.

Trattoria Demi **** (1/2 Blk S. of Davis on Sherman/Orrington)
www.trattoriademi.com
Very good Italian food for both lunch and dinner. The Chicken Salad, Pizza, Sandwiches, and Pasta are all excellent.  They bring bread to your table, (olive oil too if you ask.) The prices are reasonable, the service has always been good, and the atmosphere nice. It tends to get crowded, so drop by and see if it’s not too busy to grab a bite before you settle on it.  (Cozy outdoor seating in the shade on warm days.) (Outdoor Seating)  They now deliver!  - 847.332.2330

La Macchina Café **** (North of Orrington/Davis)
www.facebook.com/lamacchinacafe
Near World of Beer, on Orrington, is a very promising new restaurant with a full bar. Chris Casas and Marco Ferrarini have opened a new location, this time with a full kitchen. (Locals may remember Chris from the Italian Espresso Bar where The Other Brother is now.) The menu showcases Prosciutto di Parma, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, Orecchiette, Tagliatelle, and Grilled Beef Tenderloin - Mi piace l'italiano!

Convito Italiano **** (Not Evanston, but feels like it.)
 A wonderful little outdoor seating venue, complete with their own Italian store and deli. The food is excellent, the prices reasonable, and the memories of wonderful picnics at Ravinia with wine from Convito is worth the stop at the Plaza De Lago, about 10 minutes north of Evanston on Sheridan.

Symphony *** (Central, 3 blks W. of Green Bay, north side of street.)
The Italian food I had in this restaurant was very good, the service decent, and the prices reasonable. Not a bad choice for an out-of-the-way Italian place on an otherwise busy weekend.

Trattoria D.O.C * (1/2 Blk W. of Chicago on Main)
Good thin crust, wood-fired pizza. However, they don't know how to make a calzone worth a damn. What is it with Chicago and their no-sauce calzone? Come on guys, it's whatever the customer wants in it, lots of interesting non-mozzarella cheeses, and sauce on top. Not dry-ass pizza of single choice folded over with no sauce on top. Look it up! Oh, and both times I went, their service was horrible. I won't go back.

Naf Naf Grill *** (Davis/Orrington)
Naf Naf Grill is a Mediterranean place that I would equate to Chipotle in its genre. It's fast, efficient, reasonably affordable, and the service is quick. The ordering line flows to the cashier, the soda station, then the seats in an excellent layout, and the food is delicious. Try the pita bread - it's made on-site. Then, get a bowl of your favorite fare - hummus, Baba ghanoush, falafel, and shawarma - it's all good! 

Mumbai ***  (Sherman/Clark)
This little restaurant opened rather quietly. If you're looking for authentic Indian and you're not interested in Everest, try this little place! It's next to Starbucks near The Gap on Sherman/Clark.

OMG (Olive Mediterranean Grill) ***  (Sherman/Church)
www.EatOMG.com
This fun new space is another excellent Mediterranean alternative. They have fresh hot sauce, tahini, pita, shawarma, kabobs, falafel, and olives on the menu. If you're looking for a quick lunch that is on the healthier side, check it out! It's near Mumbai and Starbucks close to The Gap on Sherman/Clark.

The Celtic Knot *** (Church/Orrington)
 As good as it gets for truly authentic Celtic food, if not the atmosphere. The place was “The Roxy”, then “Bombay”, now it’s been re-renovated and made into this excellent Irish Pub/Restaurant. Though the atmosphere hasn't changed much from it’s Roxy Days, and the service is new but caring, the food is completely different. So far, I’ve tried the Salmon Plate, an excellent dish of North Atlantic Salmon with a salad, home made vinaigrette, and home made Irish brown bread. Yum! The other dish I’ve tried is “The Ploughman’s Lunch”, heavy Blue and Irish Cheddar cheeses that “will knock you on your arse!.” Most excellent. Oh, and they of course have Gravy with Chips, decent hot wings, as well as Guinness and Harp on tap. Go now if you like pub grub!

Mt. Everest *** (Church/Orrington)
Good Indian buffet, quick service, nice atmosphere. For dinner, the authentic Vindaloo dishes from Nepal will set you on fire, just the way I like it. Their naan is almost as good as on Devon, but the parking is much easier and the prices are about the same.

Olive Mountain *** (Davis, ½ block East of Orrington)
Good value for lunch, excellent chicken and salads, good falafel, nice atmosphere, brisk business. Overall not a bad choice for lunch.

Whole Foods: Salad Bar *** (Church/Chicago)
This salad bar is very well maintained. It also has an Oriental Bar next to it, which for the same price, one can mix and match. The price is about 5 bucks a pound, and drinks are near the front, as well as some seating, so overall, it’s not a bad deal. The foods are almost all organic in nature, and the store contributes to the organic movement, so you’re sure to have a clearer conscience when you eat at Whole Foods. The service is grocery-store style, and serve yourself. So if you’re not a good waiter, don’t eat here. ;-) (Outdoor Seating)

Campagnola *** (formerly Champagne)
Highly pretentious, and expensive. However, the service was impeccable, and the food was very tasty, if “a bit skimpy” for this Colorado bred, meat eating, 250 lb. male (who is used to rather large portions and voluminous fare.) The downstairs would probably be more to my liking, cheaper, more food, and not as fancy. At least the wine was very good, and when you eat less food, you get inebriated faster…

Rotary Building Cafeteria ** (Sherman/Grove)
This place is affordable, lots of seating, and buffet style service. The lines can get long, and the food is average, but not bad for a full-force cafeteria on the ground floor of the Rotary building. I hear they have breakfast too.

Chef's Station *?* (Davis Metra Stop)
Hmm. I likely won't go. It's expensive, and they serve Fois Gras and Veal - no thanks. Though it looks interesting so maybe you should go if you can afford it. At least the riff-raff like me won't be there to bother you. ;-)  

Globe Cafe' and Bar * (In the Orrington Hotel)
What can I say about a place has an ambiguous hostess stand when you first walk in? Or how about the $3.00 Iced Tea with my $9.00 cheeseburger and fries? Maybe it was the wait staff that didn't greet me right away, or the inept plate delivery by someone other than my waitress. Whatever it was, at a grand total of Sixteen bucks after tip, (yes, I tip well even for poor service, because I've worked in a Restaurant since I was 12 years old), I don't think anyone could convince me to go back. Next time, I'll spend that kind of money at Flat Top or on fresh Sushi next door at Sashimi Sashimi. I'll definitely get more bang for my buck that way.

Other options exist for Vegan and Vegetarian of course, such as the Whole Foods salad bar, or Greek Fire Grill veggie dogs, Chipotle sofritas, OMG hummus, etc. However, these places are primarily Vegetarian or Vegan, and deserve their own listing:

Lyfe Kitchen *** (Chicago/Davis)
This place caters to all three types of foodies - Vegan, Veggie, and Carnivore. They list out the calories for each item on the menu, and they have a nice variety of food to choose from for everyone. They also have get-it-yourself water glasses, plenty of seating, reasonably professional staff, and comfortable places to sit for a while after you dine in. They also have seats outside for warm days, and enough room for larger groups. (Outdoor Seating)

The Amazing Kale Burger **** (741 Howard, 1 blk East of Ridge.)
I'll be up front - I have always disliked Kale. That said - this place is great! I couldn't even tell it was Kale that I was eating in my rather yummy burger.
The three appetizers I tried were also all very good. Cole slaw you'd never know is Vegan, baked potato wedges that remind me of tater tots, and excellent zucchini wraps that reminded me of Vegetarian Maki.  This place is going to do very well with the local healthy all-veggie crowd and curious carnivores indeed!

Blind Faith Cafe ****
www.blindfaithcafe.com
I had very low expectations of a vegetarian place for breakfast, but was pleased with what I found to be a wonderful dining experience. (All except for the wait beforehand, that is.) The wait staff here is very professional and attentive, and the quality of the food is exceptional. The patrons were the worst part, but the local Evanston folks like myself can be an odd bunch. It's a bit more expensive than I would like, but natural food always is. The seitan, eggs, and pancakes are good. If you're looking for dessert - the Peanut Butter Chocolate Vegan cake is the best, and I do mean the best, (better than Chicago Diner), that I've ever had. The carrot cake is good too, and the latte's are decent and go very well with the cake.

Soulwich *** (1634 Orrington Ave.)
This little unassuming sandwich place has an interesting spin - it's filled with fresh vegetarian veggies on large cuban-style sandwich rolls accompanied by home-made kettle chips with interesting Asian spices and flavors all around. I tried the wasabi chips and a spice grill sandwich - not bad! If you're looking for an affordable vegan/veggie-friendly option, give this place a try.

Tapas Barcelona *** (Chicago/Davis)
The company I work for has had it’s get-together at this fine Authentic Spanish Cuisine restaurant for several years in a row. They have a large full bar, a very knowledgeable staff, good service, and some of the very best in authentic Tapas. (small taste portions.) Fresh bread, sangria, and other goodies flow out of the kitchen. All this can be done for a reasonable price, unless you're really hungry, in which case you might spend a bit more. But overall, I’d say it’s definitely worth at least one try if you’re in the mood for Spanish. (Outdoor Seating)

Chipotle *** (Church/Orrington)
Burritos, “let us help you roll a fatty” is what one t-shirt used to say in this place. Big burritos filled with goodies,  or in a bowl, to your liking? Then come on into this place. The prices are reasonable, and the decor a mix of old wood and metal. The place is PACKED during lunch, so don’t expect a seat during the rush. I do like the fact that they serve alcohol, and will make your food SPICY if you wish.

That Little Mexican Café *** (Church/Oak)
 I've had their lunch buffet, it's quiet good. The food is decent, the wait staff pleasant, and the overall atmosphere very typical of a dine-in Mexican place. The prices are a little high, but the food a bit above par, while the chips could be improved upon, but at least one basket is still free. (They might charge for the second basket of chips, so look out!)

Las Palmas *** (3 blks. N. of Davis, 1 blk West of Sherman)
 Another Mexican restaurant that does some justice to the trade. The fajita’s here are decent, and the chips not-so-bad. The service was good the 3-4 times I went, and the atmosphere is also authentic. A good substitute for any other Mexican place that’s overpriced and overbooked. (see Chili’s entry…)  The prices here are reasonable too.

Chili’s * (Church/Maple)
 Lunch is the same price as dinner at this corporate eats place.  So avoid it. Oh, and the service lacked big time last time I was in. No one sat me, so I sat at the bar, and the bartender wasso busy he didn’t ask for my order for at least 10 minutes. Not good for those in the lunch rush mode. Food is decent, service rough around the edges. Price much too high in comparison with other lunch joints.

Taco Bell * (Sherman/Clark)
 Cheap. The cheapest sort-of non-Mexican one can buy. If you’re on a budget, not a diet, then go here and grab 20 tacos for 20 bucks. Did you know that Taco Bell doesn't have a license to cook food? They are only allowed to prepare it. Rather interesting, no? Not a bad model if you're trying to save on the cost of cooks.

al·fres·co:
                –adverb 1. out-of-doors; in the open air: to dine alfresco.                
                –adjective 2. outdoor: an alfresco café.
                - Also, al fresco.

My  first recommendation: Grab a cooler, something to grill,  and head to one of Evanston's parks that have a built-in grill.  Bring your charcoal and some friends! The location is free if your event is under 30 people, the food is what you're willing to spend at the store, and the views near the lake are some of the best in the country.

For  more information, check out the Park Regulations PDF:
  http://www.cityofevanston.org/parks-recreation/park-permits-picnics/

Also, Outdoor Faires and Festivals go without saying. They're a "No-brainer for outdoor food."

That said, "What else is available for outdoor seating in Evanston?"

First,  let's define "Outdoor Seating." I think it's important   to note that in my book, there are a few types of Alfresco dining in Evanston:

                1. A place that has outdoor seating, hopefully with a separate patio  and umbrellas.
                2. A place that has seats outside, but little or no service at said seats.
                3. Places with outdoor seating that I refuse because I don't like the atmosphere enough.

There's a huge world of difference here folks, don't let them fool you!

Keeping my rule in mind, and my other rules for a balance of price, atmosphere,  service, and quality of food, I'll leave you with the following list of places to dine Alfresco.

                1. Tapas Barcelona (Separate Patio)
                2. Prairie Moon (Separate Patio)
                3. Nevins (Big tables, beautiful new patio!)
                4. Koi (Indoor windows so big you're eating outside.)
                5. Pot Belly Subs/Jamba Juice (Practically a public square.)
                6. Firehouse Grill (Separate Patio near sidewalk.)
                7. 1800 Club (Separate Patio)
                8. Trattoria Demi (Good service/food, sidewalk.)
                9. Noodle Company (Shady, big sidewalk.)

Places  that have outdoor seats, usually without service:
                1. Whole Foods
                2. Unicorn Cafe
                3. Brother's K Cafe
                4. Starbucks on Sherman

Places that are currently open that have outdoor seats that I don't personally consider, regardless of the quality of their service/food:
                1. Argo Tea (Too much traffic, sidewalk.)
                2. Le Peep (Too much sun, sidewalk.)
                3. Dixie Kitchen (Too much sun, sidewalk.)
                4. Bar Louie (Takes up whole sidewalk, expensive.)
                5. Davis Street Fish Market (Wind tunnel, traffic, sun, sidewalk.)
                6. Celtic Knot (Too much traffic, sidewalk.)
                7. Flat Top Grill (Too much traffic/sun, sidewalk.)
                8. Chipotle (Too much traffic/sun, sidewalk.)
                9. Clarke's Cafe (Not enough tables, sidewalk.)
                10. Globe Cafe & Bar (Too expensive, sidewalk.)
                11. Kan Sa Ku (Not enough seats, too small, on sidewalk.)
                12. Chef's Station (Too expensive, sort of patio/sidewalk.)
                13. Bat 17 (Tiny table on a sidewalk, anyone?)
                14. A few places on Central in Evanston. (I don't go north enough to have a strong opinion.)
                15. I might have missed some, but you get the idea.

The Spice House - Central, 1 block west of Green Bay Road. ****
This unique establishment sells only spices. Sea Salt  is the tip of the spiceburg here folks. They do classes, they  have every relevant spice you can think of, and then some. This isn't Jewel. It doesn't come in a can. It's FRESH spices. Expensive,  hard to find spices, powders, and other things you can't get easily elsewhere. Stop in and check out the powdered cheddar for your  popcorn! This place would get five stars, but the staff can be "rough around the edges", so I gave them four, but it's definitely worth a trip to check it out.

Evanston 1st Liquor - Davis/Oak on Davis ****
Psst! *They Deliver! - 847.328.9651

I lived in Evanston for a few years before I even heard of this place. When I walked in, it was like I won in Vegas! They even have micro brews from my home town in Colorado! Mead? Yep. Scotch that isn't one of the big four? Yep. Absinthe? Yep. Mixers? Check. Lemon squeezer? Check. Ping-Pong balls? Yep. Kegs? You bet. All the hard stuff I need to make a White Russian, Long Island Ice Tea, or Tequila Sunrise? Yep. Why are you still reading this!? Go now, and smile when you see the beer collection. If you're too lazy, they DELIVER too.

FEW Distillery **** (Chicago - 1/4 block North of Main)
Few people have heard of FEW. Fewer still have found FEW. I found FEW, and while I tried their amazing spirits before my visit, I truly enjoyed the staff, the location, the hops growing out front, and the Gin I tasted while I was visiting. It's worth a visit - even if just to learn how Gin and Whiskey is made.

Wine Goddess **** for Wine (Main, just west of Chicago)
She sits astride, mountains tall and wide... Every time I drive by The Wine Goddess, I smile and sing The Sword song. Anyway... this is a great local place to get that special bottle of wine as a gift for someone. It's nowhere as cheap as Trader Joe's, but that's the point! Stop in for a tasting, and raise a glass to the Goddess.

Sketchbook Brewery **** for Ale (Main, behind Lucky Platter in the alley)
Open and ready for business in September 2014, the three different brews I tasted were great! Especially "The Scottish" brew. It was particularly good. I do hope this place stays around a good long while.

World of Beer (WOB) **** for Beer * for food (Davis/Orrington/Sherman Memorial Plaza)
Okay, get ready for BEER! They have just about every beer you could ever like.
I'm not sure if you can still BYOF (Bring your own food...) as they do have a rather pub-like menu now, though at least one can get something to nosh on while enjoying a brew and a game.

Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. **** (Davis/Oak)
smyliebros.com
This place has a great atmosphere and excellent alfresco seating. The interior boasts a pizza-bar, a liquor bar, restaurant seating, and an upstairs seating venue for private parties with a complete bar. The outdoor seating, while needing a bit of work regarding the spacing of tables and low fence, (they need less tables crammed in and taller fences to give diners a bit more privacy), is also quite nice on warm summer nights. The fireplace with couches in the waiting area was also very nice, and the bar service while we waited was stellar. The Smylie brews were sold out for a couple of flavors, which tells me they're good, and the brews I did have were great. The Purple Line was an instant citrus favorite. The BBQ isn't as good as Austin, TX - however, for a bunch of Yankees, the Smylie Brothers do an okay job. The salad was lacking in pears, though the mushroom stone-fired pizza was very memorable. Also, the organic Vodka was on point with extra lime in the tonic - quite good. I'd recommend that the brothers get a veggie burger or other vegetarian option on their menu, though I'll definitely go back to try the spoon bread - as it was also sold out and I'm sure quite tasty.

Temperance Beer Company *?* for Beer (Dempster)
I have yet to find Temperance. I likely never will. That said, I haven't tried this place either. My friend, however, has. And here, unfiltered, is what he had to say: "You'd think if you make beer for a living, you'd be really, really happy! The people at Temperance, however, had about as much personality as a doorknob." Interestingly, his statement really makes me want to go there, even if just to meet a beer zombie in person...

J. D. Mills Health Food - Chicago/Kedzie Plaza ***
 This local health food store carries a very large variety of groceries, vitamins, minerals, alternative health solutions, dry bulk goods, and drinks. On occasion, they also carry fresh soup and samosas, yum!

Trader Joe's - On Chicago at Dempster ****
Evanston now has a Trader Joe's! Fresh organic alternatives to other stores that are more affordable, an excellent wine selection, and a variety of snacks and frozen foods are what they specialize in. It's nice to have such variety in the land of groceries now.

World Market - On Maple at Church/Maple ****
This national chain carries a wide variety of wines, beers, and interesting party foods like chips, chocolate, cookies, canned sauces, spices, dips, and other goodies. Most of which are affordable. They also sell all the housewares one would ever need, from tables/chairs to plates, flatware, cooking gear, containers, and even sofas.

Foodstuffs  2 1/2 blocks west of Green Bay on Central ****
This place is expensive. Let's just get that out of the way first. The service is spotty too. However, the selection and quality of the products they sell are very good, fresh, and unique. The place is packed on weekends and evenings, so go on a weekday during   the day if you can. Know what you're looking for before you go  in though, because the place is tight on space and packed full of goodies to buy and people buying them. The foodstuffs these folks cater is something worth writing about on a web page. Maybe I'll find one somewhere...

Great Harvest Bread Company - 3 blocks west of Green Bay on Central *****
Screw the carbs! The bread here is the best. They make it all on site and it smells amazing. Breads, baked goods like brownies, cookies, etc. And their sandwiches are gigantic as well as tasty. The prices are reasonable for the high quality of the food, and they even carry unique brands from other states for honey, jam, and other things to slather on your loaf. YUM.

McGaw YMCA of Evanston - Grove/Maple on Grove *****
http://www.mcgawymca.org
So you eat all this good food, but need to keep the weight off? You need a workout plan! I've been to many YMCA locations in my time, but this one is the best by far. Two swimming pools, racket ball courts, every class under the sun,  a children's center, reading lounge, huge weight room, tons of  aerobic options, massage, basketball, running track, spinning, the whole bag. I joined the YMCA because I realized that the other gyms in town don't contribute to the community or give back. The YMCA does. Simple. If that doesn't help, they have a sliding pricing scale and family rates. Oh, and a steam room, sauna, and jacuzzi.

Flo - New Mexican food in Chicago, Chicago/Ashland *****
I am from the South West United States, and I always complain about the fare here in Chicago deemed "Mexican". There is a large difference between "Mexican" food and "Tex-Mex" and/or "Southwestern Food." I have finally found a place that has what I am looking for - Hatch Chile from New Mexico. For those of you who don't know Chile very well, this is the equivalent of Kobe beef for Chile, as far as I'm concerned. Many people from Taos and Durango would agree with me. If you're looking for the "real deal" and you're stuck in Chicago - go to Flo, get a Chili Bloody Mary, eat the Pablano, Pico, Cholula, or Salsa, and close your eyes while you eat. I promise, you'll be in Taos when you do! The Brunch, including the Ranchero Burrito, was just like home.

Ellipsis Coffeehouse - 1259 W. Devon Avenue, Chicago *****
http://www.ellipsiscoffeehouse.com/
Chris and Megan really knows their beans! The coffee is the sort of perfection I love, like heaven in a cup with an art swirl on my latte'. There is a decent amount of space to sit, the atmosphere is nice, and the Loyola crowd will appreciate the drinks, wi-fi, and proximity to campus. This is as good as coffee gets folks, trust me, I did the Chicago Tour de Cafe' - so I know.

Thai Spice - 1320 W. Devon Avenue, Chicago *****
Super-Hot Pepper Heads - Listen Up! If you know how to eat a Ghost Naga Bhut Jolokia Pepper, this is the place for you! - Tony and his wife cook amazing authentic Thai dishes. Hell, this is the best Pad-Thai with no spice I've ever eaten in my life, and I've eaten more Thai food than any other westerner I know. Here's the catch - are you listening - Guy Fieri!? : There is a little known secret about Thai Spice that I learned from a friend of mine... there is a secret "heat scale" for the spices here! Yes, if you visit often enough - Tony *might* share up to "Level 10 Spice" with you, or at least tell you about it. (The public spice list caps out at heat level 5.) I grow super hot peppers. So does Tony! This is the heat I crave - hot like the sun in a bowl full of noddles! This, my fellow hot heads, is what we ask for, and so rarely receive. This is how I would run a restaurant, and why you, my fire breathing friend, should visit this place and tell Tony that Calin sent you to ask about his secret Thai Spice!

RUB (Aka Back Country Smokehouse BBQ Supply Company) - BBQ, Touhy/94-Edens *****
www.RubBBQCompany.com
Don't walk to this place! RUN! Or drive really fast. This little husband and wife BBQ stop already has lines out the door. And after having tried the brisket and the ribs, I know why! Their sauces are great, and the smoked meat is some of the best around! YUM. If you go, ask Jared or Amanda if they have any smoked Elk. Tell them Calin told you to ask. Ha ha! Enjoy!

M. Henry - Edgewater/Andersonville - Clark just south of Peterson. *****
www.mhenry.net
Wonderful atmosphere. Large space, excellent service with a smile. I had the stuffed poblano pepper with adobo sauce, stuffed with eggs & chorizo, and sweet plantains. Go early! They don't take reservations, and they are VERY busy for good reason. We got lucky and were sat almost immediately just before 10AM on Sunday.

Hema's Kitchen - 2439 W. Devon Ave. - Chicago ****
www.hemaskitchen.com
Hema's has excellent Vegetarian food, as well as great spicy Lamb Vindaloos. (They even made it hot enough for me, which is rare.) Their Naan breads and Samosas are all good, they have American style iced-tea, and the service, price, and atmosphere are also good. Overall, an excellent choice for an affordable night out with the family.

REZA's in Andersonville *****
www.rezasrestaurant.com
 Great price for excellent Mediterranean food, vegetarian options, tons of food, excellent drinks and outdoor seating, indoor atmosphere, and an all around good time. I've been many times, and have never been disappointed.

Big Jones Chicago - Andersonville, across from the Swedish Bakery *****
 www.bigjoneschicago.com
I went here with my wife for dinner, and I had a huge smile on my face the whole time. Homemade corn cakes with honey butter, creole ya-ya gumbo, real sweet tea, cheese fritters, grits, home style fried chicken, catfish, Cajun fries, red velvet cake. These southern cats have it all, and they do it right. If you're from Orleans and you're missing home, try them out! You'll be happy you did!

New York Bagel, Touhy/94-Edens *****
Ok, I know this isn’t Evanston anymore, but these Bagels will kick the ass of any two other bagel joints within 15 miles. The homemade lox style cream cheese is to DIE for, as is any of the other spreads they have. The bagels are homemade on-site, in their giant oven, and well worth the trip. Oh, and they’re open 24 hours a day. What more could you ask for?  Yes, they sell sea-salt bagels, and drink too. Definitely worth it, because they’re cheap to boot!

Japan Noodle House, Belmont/Ashland ***** (might be closed.)
Best Sushi I’ve ever eaten in Chicago! It’s all Japanese folks here, real nice service/staff. Pictures of almost every guest who’s ever eaten there on the walls, and an All You Can Eat Sushi that doesn’t Suck! Excellent place. I’ve made several special trips to go there on several occasions.

Gulliver's Restaurant, Howard street, Chicago ****
www.gulliverspizza.com
This place is worth the visit if even just to see the interior decor. The owner has collected a vast variety of sculptures, lamps, and other interesting oddities that defy description. The stuffed pizza is spectacular, and the service excellent. Go in for a visit if you haven't had the chance to yet!

Home Run Inn Pizza *****
http://www.homeruninnpizza.com
Yes, they make frozen pizza. No, the review is not for the frozen pizza, which while good, is nowhere near as good as the actual restaurant! I've made two pilgrimages to the original place, and I'll go again. This is Chicago Pizza at it's finest folks, trust me.

3rd Coast Cafe **** (Dearborn/1 blk north of Division)
This Chicago establishment has changed over the last couple of years. They used to be open 24 hours, then started closingearlier and earlier, until now I believe they're only open untilMidnight or so. The staff and the owner, Janet, (as I recall),  are very friendly, and the live music is always good. The menuis well priced for being downtown, and it has something for everyone. I particularly like Diablo's Tacos and their Caesar salads. The sandwiches are also always good. They used to have smoking, but thankfully that's gone in Chicago now too! Yay! Parking is hard to find, and Sundays are so busy they're bursting at the seams, but otherwise it's a wonderful place overall.

Tsunami***** (Dearborn/Division)
Excellent Sushi, wonderful atmosphere. You know it's good when patrons come from Japan to eat here. What else can I say? Go now if you have the time and the money. Oh, and parking is tough, so get ready.

Hot Chocolate Chicago ***** (1742 W. Division)
 www.hotchocolatechicago.com
Have you ever passed out from eating too much chocolate? I must say, it's a wonderful experience. Mindy has outdone herself by creating this place. If you like Chocolate, and you haven't been here, you need to go! It's as close as I've come to having Hot Chocolate in Paris, when I was there, and it's here in Chicago! GO GO GO! GO NOW! Get the Dark Chocolate French Cup, with a home made marshmallow,  and the Pecan Pie. You'll cry tears of joy, then pass out with a chocolate smear on your smiling face.

Mana Food Bar ***** (1742 W. Division)
 www.manafoodbar.com
Wow! Go early! This place is standing room only! And for good reason. The place is really little, but in the spring they have outdoor seating. The food is a-maz-ing! It's vegetarian & vegan, and the staff and service were all wonderful. The saki-cocktails were unique and good, and the food was outstanding. I think I had almost one of everything on the menu. They build petite plates and price them low so you can try several. I'll go back, (I'll go early), and that's high praise coming from a guy who just cooked 10 Elk steaks on his grill.

The Green Zebra * (Ashland/Chicago in Chicago)
 
Now - I've been to pretentious places before, so I knewwhat to expect in the vegetarian place. Hence, I ate before I went and I wasn't sad I did. In fact, I almost laughed in the waitress' face when she looked at my rather large frame in shockwhen I said I was "full" from eating the tiniest bowl of onion soup I've ever eaten for ten bucks in my life. HA HA!  Talk about a place for people to blow their money on vegetarian                 fare I could make at home for 1/10th the cost! Save your bucks and avoid this place like the money-sucking-barely-cooked-almost-good-but-not-really fashion show it is and go to a real place like Chicago Diner instead.
OH, and the owner of The Green Zebra? Yeah, she owns Custom House - where they server VEAL and FOIS GRAS. So much for their vegetarian ethics.

Himalayan **** (Golf/Milwaukee - Des Plaines/Glenview)
One cannot go wrong with a place packed to the gills with folks from the region the food purports to hail from. In other words, this place is full with authentic people and food, so it's good for a reason. The service is stellar, the food out of this world, and the price reasonable. If you like Nepalese or northern Indian,            don't wait! And don't let the fact that this nice sit down joint is in a strip mall next to the DMV fool you. I'll definitely be back. Heck, I make trips from Evanston just to eat here regularly because it's good.

Uncle Mel's Ribs and Sauce *****
Mel lives in Wheeling, but you'd swear he imports his stuff straight from New Orleans. Not at all like the store-bought sugar and high-fructose stuff. Only the best goes in these sauces. He makes each batch by hand, and it shows. Oh, and he sells ribs by the rack, heat and eat!

Uncle Mel's, Inc.
Phone: 847-818-8987
ribsandsauce @ comcast.net for pricing and orders. (space included to avoid spam)
Tell him Calin sent you!

 

Reviews for places that have Closed, may close, or may have closed and re-opened.

Diablo's Tacos *** (Open again!)
 The owner's of LuLu's have partnered with their staff to bring Tacos to Evanston. The atmosphere is decent, and the prices are reasonable. The fare is what I'd call "straightforward Mexican"  - not amazing, though not too bad, and a change of pace from the typical places around. Because it was once Bill's Blues Bar, the joint has an air of Cantina more than Plaza, which is interesting.  Not very vegetarian friendly, though the fish and shrimp do havea certain appeal to them. I was underwhelmed by the duck and egg taco, while the carnitas was reliable, and the jalapenos were spicy, which is as it should be.

Prairie Moon *** Breakfast until 2pm on Sunday! (May close soon for new building)
www.prairiemoonrestaurant.com
I've gone for breakfast at Moon, but I must say it's not really anything to write home about. But, seeing as how Evanston doesn't do breakfast very well, it might be an option. (Outdoor Seating)

Nevin’s Pub *** (formerly Tommy Nevin’s) 1 blk S. of Davis on Sherman (May close soon for new building)
These guys get an extra star for having Guinness on tap, live music, pool tables, darts, as well as outdoor seating and a formal dining room all in one. The service is okay, the fare decent,  and it’s open late. Go here to get a fresh Guinness after a long day at work. (Outdoor Seating)

Thai Sook Dee (Thai) *** (Church/Oak) Closed!
Good service, nice atmosphere, much larger space than their old one, and good authentic Thai food. These folks do Thai justice, for lunch or dinner, without breaking your wallet.

Five Guys **** (Church/Benson) Closed!
They don't do vegetarian - except the fries. Have you tried the fries? Try the fries. Did you try the Cajun version of the fries? Did I mention the small fries is enough for a vegetarian to eat as a meal? Try the fries! Oh, and the double bacon burger is good. Fries, anyone?

Dixie Kitchen ** - Closed! (Church/Benson)
In days gone by, Dixie Kitchen was a good option for both dinner and brunch on the weekend. However, I recently went back, and I must say that it has definitely lost something. The wait to get a table is longer, there are no free Jonny cakes with warm butter before the meal, and the service definitely needs a bit more training or staffing or, well, something. It was about as lackluster as the food and the incorrect order that arrived. (Being me, I smiled and ate what I was given, though I do wonder if the grits have also gone downhill...) Oh well, I'll look elsewhere for brunch on the weekend. Evanston sure could use another breakfast joint. Maybe I'll open one... but only on the weekends.

Bravo! **  - Closed (Next to Century 21 Theaters)
Nice atmosphere, decent service, ungodly prices for the fare. (13 bucks for a salad, anyone?) But, not a bad place to take the high maintenance in-laws in a pinch if they expect that sort of thing.

Aguas Tortas **** - CLOSED!! (Church/Orrington)
Tortas, Burritos, Tostadas, and Tacos. This place is the real deal! Finally, some real Mexican up in this town. I tried one of each of the 5 different kinds of tacos, and ate each one! The salsas they have are good, and you can get a Soda Pop in a glass bottle, just like Mexico. The Al Pastor and Fish Tacos were my favorite, though the Grilled Steak, Chicken, and Mexican Sausage were all very good too. I went at 2:30pm, and the place was still rather busy, so get ready for a line (or order delivery)! With cheap tacos, you can't go wrong with this place.

Noyes Street Café *** (Closed!)
Hmm. What can I say about this place? Oddly eclectic, eccentric? Strange menu with not-so-strange ingredients. Above average prices, and odd hours. Good luck on this one!

Buffalo Wild Wings *** (Closed!) (Moved to Skokie, or so I hear.)
The 'blazin' wing sauce here is hot enough for this heat lover to smile about! Hurray! The service is good, the prices decent, and there is a ton of room in this sports bar to watch any game on. For a chain, these guys do a good job.

Pine Yard *** (Closed due to a fire!!!)
There is a reason this place has been in business since the 70’s. Damn good service, food, and prices. If you like Chinese food,  and haven’t eaten here, you’re missing out! Vegetarians are also welcome, get the broccoli dish, it kicks ass! (and that’s high praise coming from someone who hates broccoli and eats meat!)

Lu Lu’s **** (Davis Street/Sherman) - Closed, but opening again soon I hear!
Okay, finally! I don't know what they did, but the menu choices were much more my style, and though the wait staff was still aloof, it didn't ruin the food. ;-) Give this one a chance, and try the Dragon Noodles, if you're looking for something out of the ordinary. The asparagus tempura was also exceptional.

Gio****(Closed!) - ( ½  blk north of Davis on Chicago)
The menu boasts cheap pizza that tastes like 4 stars. An excellent chicken dish with mushrooms and cheese wrapped in a chicken breast, and excellent olive oil with bread for dipping.  they also have affordable beer along with their expensive wine. The service for a Thursday night was quite good, though I wonder what weekends hold. (I’m sure they’re packed.) The atmosphere is also quite nice.

Ambrosia Cafe (Closed!)*** (Davis/Orrington)                             
Run by two brothers from Ann Arbor, I love to hang out here with friends and grab a latte or hot tea. It's got a goodvibe and the food that's brought in is as good or better than many other coffee joints. It's also across the street from ChaseBank, which makes it easy for us in the downtown area.

Le Petite Amelia ***** (Church St., near Whole Foods) (Closed!)
Very professional wait staff, nice atmosphere, reasonably priced, and best of all, the food was wonderful. The escargotwas particularly good, and the chopped chicken salad rivals the rest in town. Crusty French bread and a long list of drink anddessert choices was also a nice touch. C'est Bon!

Ommagio **** (Orrington/Church) (Closed!)
This place opened up late in 2007. Extensive renovation was done to the interior, and I must say that it was well executed. The restaurant has a lot of natural wood and brick and makes the space seem warm and inviting. I tried the braised octopus appetizer,  the insalata anipasto, the wild boar ragu, the Patta chocolate dessert, iced tea, and coffee at the end of the meal. I must say,  it was all very good, particularly the octopus. The boar wasn'tgamey enough for a country boy like myself, but I'll try the venison next time, and probably won't be disappointed. The prices are reasonable for the quality of the fair, and the deli attached to the restaurant looks interesting as a to-go option.

Gary Poppins Popcorn **** (Sherman/Clark)(Closed!)
Dang. I am sorry to see this place go. The cheese popcorn is definitely for the hard-core cheese heads among us, and I expect to see many great things come from this little shop. I’m so happy this store opened I could just pop! (please forgive the cheese flavored pun.) heh. Oh, and just had the caramel corn, very good!

Jamaican Gate: **(Closed!)
The culture both in the small eatery and the food is authentic to a "J". :-) LOVED the chicken I had, and   the service was very up-front and friendly. Ja Mon! Drop in fora bite sometime if you're feeling adventurous. Oh, and the CarrotCake was excellent. :-)

GNC (General Nutrition Center) *** Now reopened.
Protien bars, powder, and low-carb bars/supplements here.

Coach’s Café, Orrington Hotel, Evanston *** (Closed! See Globe Cafe and Bar, if you dare...) 1 blk N. of Davis on Orrington (Sherman)
This little Northwestern University café has a nice littlesports bar next to a fairly well put together dining room. The service is good, the food very normal, and the prices typical of a diner. It’s not thought of by the main stream very often, which means it most likely won’t be too busy to pop in and grab a bite. (Unless it’s game night, then look-out!)

Baja Fresh ** (Closed!)
A mixture of fast food style cutlery with a bit of a home cooked touch feel, without the home. Serve yourself a drink style refills and a “salsa bar” with plastic ramekins remind me of all that’s good in an eat-in Mexican restaurant without the atmosphere of an eat-in Mexican restaurant. Price isn’t anything special, neither were the enchiladas. Free chips with order, pretty normal. Salsas weren’t anything to write home about.

Corner Street Bakery **** (Closed!)
Corner street bakery is one of the best overall places on my list. The food is always good, the service is always prompt. I’ve eaten there at least 10 times, and have eaten almost every entrée on their menu. The prices are reasonable for an entrée,  ($9 bucks with drink as of Oct. 2003), less for the lunch specials.  Their salads, sandwiches, soups, and cookies are all good. Try this place at least once and see what you think. Oh, and the seating is nice too. (Outdoor Seating)

Bombay**** (Closed! Now it’s “The Celtic Knot”)
Good Indian buffet, in fact, so good, I eat there regularly. 10 bucks with tip for lunch. Good atmosphere, good service.

ChicagoDog **½ (Closed!)
Can you say, “greasy spoon”? Wow, cheap eats, fast service, and grease. They all go together for some off-the-wall menu items in this all American style fast food gone extra joint. Get a Hot Dog, a Gyro, a Chicken Sandwich, some soup, fries, and a pickle, and you’re all set. Oh, and don’t forgetthe soda pop, coke, or other carbonated, sugar laden beverage. You’ll spend about $5 bucks in this joint for lunch. Get it to-go, or get grease on your shirt.

Sherman Café **(Closed!)
 Traditional breakfast fare, not that great, but reasonable price and fairly normal.

Aladdin’s Eatery *** Davis (East of Orrington)(Closed!)
 
Modern but comfortable atmosphere, interesting lighting.  Both of my service experiences to this new restaurant in Evanston,  (as of September, 2003), I would rate as good.
The carrot cake is VERY delicious. The green bean appetizer was good, as well as the salad and chicken dishes I ate. Standard Greek/Mediterranean food at this place, and the prices are standard.

Meet Farang, formerly Blue Sapphire (Thai) ***(Closed!)
Comfortable atmosphere, good people waiting on you, good food to eat. For Thai, this little gem is worth a try, so long as you can get a seat.

Fusion*** Near Taco Bell on Sherman (Closed!)
This little eatery, formerly known as Camille's, was quite good. As the name suggests, it's a fusion of different ethniccuisine fused together to create something new. Good to go for lunch, service was very good and the prices reasonable.

Arigato Sushi **(Closed!)
Fair sushi here. Nowhere near as good as “Aki-Hana” on Lake further north, nor anywhere near as good as “The Noodle House” on Belmont/Ashland. But, for Sushi in Evanston it’s either here or “Kuni”, (which I have yet to try.) The prices for lunch are normal for sushi but I’d avoid it if you are a sushi connoisseur.

Cereality ***(Closed!)
 
Ever wake up in the morning and fly off to work without time for a bowl of your favorite cereal? I have. This place has it all! Even my old favorite cereals are here, and they'll even put in a few custom options for you like honey and bananas. Now all we need is a place that serves grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a brown bag for lunch like they have in New York...  :-)

Mecca Fresh *** 1840 Oak Ave (Closed? It was near the farmer's market lot.) 
The service is good, the prices fit into my under ten bucks price rule for lunch, and because their location is on the northwest side of Evanston's downtown, they might be closer to where you work. 

Asado Brazilian Grill **** (Church/Oak)(Closed!)
Yep, it's too bad. Another interesting-but-expensive niche restaurant has gone away for now. It's a shame, really, but their prices were a casualty of the high competition. There's a lot of vegetarians in town, too. My wife is one. (I'm definitely a carnivore though.)

Wolfgang Puck ** (Church/Maple)(Closed. Not surprised.)
For a guy who has his own market, and stuff in the super market, you would think that the fare here would rival some of the best. Well, you’d be wrong. This place is Normal with a capital“N”, and a bit on the expensive side for what I consider normal, as well. The tall German beer is good, but I can get that                almost anywhere that sells liquor, and the burgers, soup, chicken,  salad, and martini’s aren’t anything to write home about either. Skip this one, then take the money you saved and go see a movie next door. (Outdoor Seating)

****  Quiznos(Closed!)  first, best service, best toasted subs. On Davis, just west of Sherman.

Viva le Crepe(Closed!) **** (1/2 block south on Sherman/Davis)
 Viva le Crepe is about as good as it gets for French style food at a reasonable cost in Evanston. Oceanique, which I’ve been told has a bit of a different style, is much more expensive. The Godiva Crepe, the Banana Foster Crepe, and both the Creoleand Steak Crepes were all very good. The red pepper soup was wonderful, and the baked Brie was also excellent. Tre Bien!

Tacos Del Lago (Closed!)*** (Clark/Benson)
This authentic Mexican restaurant has some of the best two-dollar tacos in town, and isn't nearly as crazy during lunch as theother joints in town during the lunch rush. Their burrito was pretty good, and their salsa is muy bueno.

Big Ka Hoo Na - Hawaiian BBQ (Closed!)*** (Benson/Clark - near Jimmy John's)
 
Whoa, you really need to try this one! In Hawaii, they love Spam (not the email, the food). I'm not sure why, but they do. So, ignore that for a second, because they serve it and list it on their menu. Don't let that stop you! I didn't, and was quite pleased with myself after having an excellent meal of potstickers,  Hawaiian iced tea, and Tocino, a Filipino favorite. All this, with good service, for less than $15 bucks. They deliver too!

Pita Pete's Healthy Eats **(Closed!) (Sherman/Grove)
 
Pita Pete's is where "That Mexican Cafe" used to reside, right next to Convito Italiano, on Sherman. It's relatively new. The staff is friendly, the prices reasonable, and the foodvery much in line with the other lunch joints in the area. It's a lot like Subway, but with Pita's instead of bread. They have many of the same chip and drink combinations, and the atmosphereis similar to most Sub shops. I'd get it "to-go" ifI go again and enjoy a seat outside with my Pita in the Sun. (in the summer, of course.)

Moon **** (Closed!)(Main/McCormick)
 
Moon is in the mall area near Main/McCormick. It's petitein size, but the Sushi and traditional non-Sushi dishes that I tried were all very good. Their egg rolls were decent and the good service is straight from Japan. (I even heard them having a conversation in Japanese, which happens to be one of my favourite languages to listen to.) ;-) Stop in, they just might surprise you for a place that's in a strip mall. The prices were reasonable and the atmosphere was also very nice.

The Italian Coffee Bar **** (Closed!)(Sherman/Grove)
 
So I just popped in for a Black-Eye, and decided to get some cookies. I then learned I didn't have cash on me, but you know what? They put it on a tab and I paid them later! As amazing as that sounds in this day and age, there it was! The Bros. K Cafe has done thesame for me, but to do that sort of thing out of the blue is unexpected.  The cookies kicked ass, and so did the coffee. I'll be back, cash in hand! They have excellent gellato, by the way, regardless ofwhat those jerks at Yelp have to say. Go in, taste some with a tasting spoon, and if you don't like it, don't buy it. Simple

Al's Beef - *. (Closed!)(Davis Street, 1/2 block west of Chicago)
 
Okay, so I gave these guys another chance. For a fast-food chain, they're fairly normal. The chicken on the salad is cold and definitely not fresh. The soda machine is in an awkward location near the pickup line next to the tables by the bathrooms. Not avery good setup. The fare is what you would expect from any fast food place, as are the prices, but not as cheap as Burger King.

Blu***** (Closed!)(Orrington/Church, in the Orrington)
When I think of Toro Sashimi or fine unfiltered Sake, I thinkof Blu with a smile. Even the miso was built custom to order.  The clean decor and traditional sushi bar were great together.  Almost as good as the Dragon Roll I had. Bring your friend Ben to help pay, but he'd agree, it's worth it.

Pomegranate ****  (Closed!)
This place has great air conditioning, the Mediterranean fare is quite good. Try the hummus. Their falafel, chicken, and steak-pita sandwich are all excellent choices as well. They're on Orrington, near the library. Their service and efficiency are welcome additions to their large tables and comfortable atmosphere. And my suggestion to upgrade their paper cups was heard!

Sabai*** (Closed!)(Clark/Sherman, Near Northwestern's Clock Tower
This little place used to be Vietnamese, but now it's an interesting (and good!) fusion of Chinese, Thai, and other Asian influences. I had excellent service, the prices were very reasonable, and the Kung Pao noodles I had were very unique and quite tasty!

Merle’s BBQ *** (Benson/Church)(Closed!)
An interesting bar, good ribs, good fries. Decent Caesar salad, decent chili. Welcome to Texas in Evanston. The Lone Star flag hangs from this rib joint, and the food inside is your typical American/Western fare. Decent atmosphere, normal service, standard prices.

Chicken Bar *** (Closed - 1/2 block South on Sherman/Clark)
So I tried this place, and it was good. The food is fresh, the service was prompt, and the price was under 10 bucks for lunch. The Cajun Chicken Wrap was brown rice, black beans, cajun sauce, and any fixings I wanted. They have digital menus overhead, a novel concept for a price board, and very limited seating, but I could see getting a wrap to go as an option for a busy student, no problem!

Uber Burger ** (Closed - Church, 1/2 blk east of Orrington, near the Library)
The place is under new management. I've heard good and bad reviews, but haven't been back in to try the burgers. I hear the food is decent if you can find a seat and get through the payment process. Good luck! 

1800 Club ** (Closed? - 2 blks N. of Davis on Sherman)
 Good bar, ½ a dining room. The dining atmosphere is generally quiet. Haven't been here in a while, and they have reduced summer hours, but it's usually a good place to grab a beer on the weekend if it's still open.

Hop Haus **** (Closed - Howard/Chicago)
Now closed, this place is about 1/4 a block south of Evanston in Rogers Park, near the now closed Dominicks -  the folks from Leona's opened "Hop Haus". They had Wild Boar, Ostrich, Lamb, Buffalo, and Kangarooburgers!!! The Kangaroo was the best, in my opinion, and not justbecause it's strange, but because it's really good. The prices are what you'd expect to pay at Leona's - about fifteen-twentybucks, but it quickly ramps up if you get any of the excellentimported beer on the menu.

Argo Tea *** (Closed - Davis/Sherman/Orrington Corner)
This little tea shop is just on the corner of Davis and Orrington. It has a very unique vanilla tea and excellent coffee and pastries. The help is friendly and really knows their stuff. Get it to go because the seating is scarce!

Mozart Cafe, Corner of Chicago/Davis *** (Chicago/Davis) - Closed!
Standard bagel, coffee, and muffins here. They now have free wireless internet access.

Pret A Manger (French/American) *** (Church/Sherman) CLOSED!
I went to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, and ate in their Cafeteria. Every time I go to Pret A Manger, (in English it means "Ready to Eat"), I remember the Cafeteria in the Louvre. The food is very fresh, styled French, and quiet good. The service is prompt, and the place is clean. They have excellent salads and wraps.

Chicken & Waffles *CLOSED*
Shockingly, I haven't found the time, (or the hangover reason), to visit what sounds to me like the Most Amazing Wonderland of Hangover Food on the planet. How can one go wrong? Fried Chicken, Waffles, and a tasty beverage to wash it all down. Heck, maybe I should find Temperance and visit this place afterward...

Lupita's Mexican Restaurant *** (Closed - Main/Chicago)
This little family run Mexican restaurant isn't bad. The food is traditional for the most part, and the home-made chips andhot salsa really add to the atmosphere. They also have live music some nights. Not as good as my hometown, Durango, Colorado, for Mexican, but hey, a guy takes what he can get here up north.

Wings Over Evanston *** (CLOSED! - Golf/Green Bay - East Plaza)
The after-burner sauce is hot, but not so hot you shouldn't try it. If you like wings, you might want to try this place. These cats fry them up in super-hot oil, and they are crispy! Wings Over Evanston has a large variety of excellent hot-sauces to try on the wings, and their sweet potato fries are quite yummy!

J.T. Bar & Grill *** (Orrington/Church) CLOSED!
The restaurant that used to be here was redesigned with a rather nice all-wood finish, so the atmosphere is nice. The breakfast was decent - with healthy options, and a refreshing change from the standards currently available in Evanston.

Dixie Kitchen (Cajun) **** (Church/Benson) CLOSED!
Home-style Cajun cooking. What more could a fire-breather like myself ask for? Great home cooked pot-cakes and catfish, hot sauce, mashed taters, and all the fixins. Not bad for a bunch of Northerners, even if I do say so myself. (And yes, I’ve been to New Orleans for Mardi-Gras, and the Grilled Alligator down there is much better than up here, but a guy takes what he can get.)

Greek Fire Grill **** (CLOSED!)
Greek Fire Grill is affordable, they deliver, and the food is excellent. They have veggie dogs and veggie burgers for vegetarians on a budget, their Gyros and Chicken salads are the best salad option in town for lunch, and they have many Greek style dishes, as well as burgers and dogs. Something for everyone!

Dave’s Italian Kitchen * (Chicago/Church) CLOSED!
Saturday night, November 2003. The wait was 20 minutes to get in, so my wife and I had high expectations about the place regardless of our previous skepticism. (Dave’s has two stout porters in a bottle, A+ so far.) Then, the service. It was less than exemplary. The Calzone, so unlike Mama’s Boy Restaurant back home where I used to make calzones, was simply a pizza folded on top of itself. No marinara sauce, no olive oil coating, no special cheese inside. Just a folded over pizza. The pasta my wife ate was very bland. The bread was also bland.  It’s a shame you still get what you pay for, because I had high hopes for this one. Maybe I’ll go back, but probably not.

Jamba Juice *** CLOSED!! (Corner of Davis and Orrington)
I’d give this place good marks for taste of product. Fair marks for service and cost. Juice, Juice, and only Juice.  In the form of smoothies, at this place. Seating is VERY limited, as is the selection of other fare. Get it and go, the best way to experience the smoothies from this place is on a summer day in the grass across the street after you get your order.

Davis Street Fish Market *** CLOSED!! (Davis/Chicago)
Nicely renovated, this one-time fish shack and shanty has gone high end. They serve breakfast on the weekends in what I would say is now one of the nicer spots in town. Drop in for   a unique spin on the traditional favorites, you won't be disappointed. Just be sure not to drop in until 11am.

Phoenix Chinese Restaurant **  Davis - CLOSED! (East of Orrington)
 
A “greasy Chinese spoon”. A cheap lunch, which includes soup, egg roll, hot tea, and entrée. A very good choice for those on a budget looking to whet their Chinese food palette. The service was excellent, the tables are new, and the place has been fixed..

ZoBa'sHome Made Noodles Closed! *** (Sherman/ 1/2 blk south of Davis.)
Zoba's is great. They make home made noodles with Thai and Chinese influences across the board. I had one entree of each type for two different lunches, just to check, and I'm happy toreport that the noodle and rice dishes are both very good! They also fall into the $10 or less lunch category and they'll bring you hot sauce if you ask.