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Finding Food in Evanston, Illinois: Restaurants for Students & Residents

Updated on June 28, 2014
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Caroline is a professional writer with a passion for great cooking & sustainable, humane food sources.

Updated: June 2014

Tired of Northwestern's campus dining? Maybe you've hit the jack pot and your parents are visiting for the weekend! Or, you are one of the more than 65,000 people who call Evanston home and are looking for date-night or family dining. Whatever your circumstance, you are certainly in luck! Evanston, Illinois, offers some of the most diverse dining selections available in the near-north suburbs of Chicago.

Evanston Residents Enjoy Amazing Restaurant Choices

Whether you are looking for carry-out or dine-in options, downtown and Central Street have you covered. Restaurants below are included as suggestions for families with kids.

  • Dave's Italian Kitchen
    An Evanston classic and family-friendly restaurant that features huge servings of all your favorite Italian-American dishes, from lasagna and spaghetti & meatballs to pizza and cannoli.
  • Edzo's Burger Shop
    Considered the best burgers in the area by, well, almost everyone. And pretty affordable, too.
    1571 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201
    (847) 864-3396

  • Lou Malnati's and Carmen's Pizzeria
    Some of the best pizza in Chicago, practically in your backyard. Lou's offers an amazing vegetarian deep dish called the Lou's Special. Carmen's traditional Chicago-style stuffed is always good--just don't ask how many calories are in the crust.
    Lou's: 1850 Sherman Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 (847) 328-5400
    Carmen's: 1241 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60201 (847) 328-0031

Food for the Cash-Strapped NU Student

Twenty-five years ago, the choices for NU students were limited. In fact, the whole Evanston dining scene was far from what it is today. Back then, students frequented Yesterday's, the Sherman Snack Shop, Burger King, and Clark's on the south end of campus; D & D Dogs and the Mandarin House, on the north. Today, the choices are much brighter for Northwestern University students.

Whether you live on campus or microwave meals in your first apartment, here is a list some dependable, great restaurants that won't bust your budget:

  • Gigio's
    New York-style pizza by the slice. Some of you have come from the East Coast, so here is a good, cheap option when homesick for your big slices of thin crust pizza.
    1001 Davis St, Evanston, IL 60201
    (847) 328-0990
  • Unicorn Cafe
    For more than 20 years, the Unicorn Cafe has served as NU's unofficial hippie coffeehouse. Support a local establishment and buy your morning java from the Unicorn. The hummus plate is highly recommended.

  • Joy Yee's Noodles
    A big bowl of steaming noodles, a rice dish, bubble teas. Delicious, generous portions from a massive, affordable menu.
    521 Davis St, Evanston, IL 60201
    (847) 733-1900
  • Buffalo Joe's
    A Northwestern tradition since, well, ever. Go for the fantastic wings and filling burgers. Tip: the blue cheese burger is great!

  • Bat 17
    Great sandwiches, huge burgers, filling breakfasts, and beer (for you upper classmen). Eat in or carry-out.

  • D & D Dogs
    For those living up north, D & D Dogs has been the quick go-to for generations of NU students. Convenient to the fraternity quad and Noyes Street apartment dwellers--and with a handy market next door.

Downtown Evanston, Illinois
Downtown Evanston, Illinois

When Parents Come to Town

For those weekends when you have parents or others visiting who may pick up the tab--and would prefer something better than the Burger King on Clark Street--here are some higher end restaurants (although not over the top) to suggest:

  • The Cellar
    Innovative small-plate / tapas-style but branching out beyond Spanish cooking to include innovative dishes from around the world. Mac & cheese with truffles and lobster, crab cakes, and blue cheese brioches with mushrooms are just a few examples of the disshes you'll find here. Great wine and beer list and fantastic specialty drinks.

  • Trattoria DOC

    High-end Italian that will fill you up but won't break your parents' bank account. In addition to well-proportioned, flavorful appetizers and entrees, this choice offers your folks a visit to Main St, with its unique shops in old Evanston buildings.

  • Pete Miller's Seafood & Prime Steak

    Hungry for steak but can only afford chicken? Have the parents visit Pete Miller's with you next time they are in town. This is one of the leading steak houses in the area, and a restaurant mom and dad really shouldn't miss. A treat for everyone!

  • Davis Street Fishmarket

    A dependable NU tradition for Mom and Dad. Casual, moderately priced and always popular. Recommended: oysters Rockefeller, crab cakes, steak Diane, and jambalaya. Open for Sunday brunches.
  • Koi

    Features Japanese and Chinese in an ecclectic setting. Mom and Dad are sure to find something on the menu they'll love. Now serves Sunday Dim Sum brunches!
  • Celtic Knot

    Good Irish food and excellent beer on tap. Also open for lunch. Live weekend musicians.

  • Addis Abeba

    Introduce your parents or visitors to something completely different: the cuisine of Ethiopia and other African nations. Delicious! (And Mom can't tell you not to eat with your hands--you have to).

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