8 new Evanston restaurants and bars

The hottest place to eat right now? Evanston. We headed north to check out all the new Evanston restaurants, bars and breweries.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Chef's Special Dry Chili Chicken is available at Lao Sze Chuan.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Lao Sze Chuan is now open at 1633 Orrington Avenue in Evanston.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

String bean in spicy black bean sauce is available at Lao Sze Chuan.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Fresh raspberry mojito is available at Lao Sze Chuan.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

The special hot and spicy pot is available at Lao Sze Chuan.

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Photograph: C Clare Britt Photography

DMK Burger and Fish is now open in Evanston.

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Hewn, home to some of the best bread in the area, is located in Evanston.

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Hewn has some of the best bread in Chicagoland.

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Hewn has some of the best bread in Chicagoland.

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Photograph: Samantha Murphy

Peckish Pig is a new brewpub in Evanston.

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Photograph: Samantha Murphy

Mussels are on the menu at Peckish Pig.

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Photograph: Samantha Murphy

Peckish Pig is located in Evanston.

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Photograph: Samantha Murphy

The Peckish Pig menu includes rosemary chicken with butternut squash cream.

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Photograph: Samantha Murphy

Peckish Pig's menu includes a spinach salad.

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Temperance Beer has a new taproom in Evanston.

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Temperance Beer is open in Evanston.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne
Hoosier Mama Pie Company and Dollop Coffee & Tea. Located at 749 Chicago Ave, Evanston IL.
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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Dollop Coffee & Hoosier Mama Pie Company is open in Evanston.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Chocolate cream pie is available at Hoosier Mama.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Apple cherry and oatmeal pie is available at Hoosier Mama.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Dollop Coffee & Hoosier Mama Pie Company is open in Evanston.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

La Macchina Cafe is located at 1620 Orrington Avenue in Evanston.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

La Macchina Cafe is open in Evanston.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Hand-cut tagliatelle with black truffles is on the menu at La Macchina.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

The mediterranean salad is on the menu at La Macchina.

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Photograph: Hannah Bourne

Burratina is on the menu at La Macchina.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Heirloom barley salad is on the menu at Farmhouse in Evanston.

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Photograph: Martha Williams
Farmhouse in Evanston
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Photograph: Martha Williams
Indiana shrimp 'n grits at Farmhouse in Evanston.
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Photograph: Martha Williams

Chocolate bread pudding is on the menu at Farmhouse in Evanston.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Farmhouse has a new Evanston location.

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Photograph: Martha Williams

Farmhouse has a new Evanston location.

The hottest dining area in Chicago isn't Logan Square or the West Loop—it's Evanston, where new bars and restaurants are opening at a rapid pace. And there's more to come—former Publican chef Brian Huston will move into the old Lulu's space and open Boltwood this spring, plus, a new location of health-food spot LYFE Kitchen will be opening soon. We recently crossed the border to check out all the new bakeries, breweries, coffee shops and more that opened over the past year.

DMK Burger & Fish

Evanston lost one hell of a pastry case when Fraiche closed under mysterious circumstances in early 2013. Thank DMK for filling the whoopie-pie–shaped hole (or would that be clog?) in our heart with beef patties and battered seafood—a sort of hybrid of its Burger and Fish Bars. The restaurant group has done wonders maximizing seating in the tiny former Fraiche space, converting the room into what feels like a miniature hot rod shop with cement floors, translucent vinyl walls, HDTV, bar stools and neon. The menu offers six of the 14 signature sloppy (but not obnoxious) burgers from DMKBB, which are great as always, but we prefer the fried cod sandwich and the Satchmo, a shrimp-on-buttery-brioche bun that’s like a lobster roll out to make your doctor angry. Northwestern students and staff score free tater tots, which are a great vehicle for the peppery housemade ketchup. We’re guessing the philosophy and theater majors in particular will dig the intense stoner jams that are the special monthly milkshakes—topped with Lucky Charms, riddled with salty movie popcorn, etc.—Brent DiCrescenzo

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Evanston

Dollop Coffee & Hoosier Mama Pie Company

I believe pie is the cause of my tendonitis. Since Hoosier Mama opened shop in my neighborhood, I’ve come to love the pot pies. All of them. They are legit pies, chunky with tops and bottoms, not some milky stew with pearl onions and a puff pastry floating on top. And I love the morosely named and juicy-raisiny Funeral Pie. And the creamy Ginger Custard slices. And the better-than-pumpkin Persimmon Pie. And… Well, it has driven me to the gym, forcing me to swim mile after mile to burn off those buttery crusts. Though one could eat Hoosier pies for every meal without complaint (stick with the weirder ones, but skip the cloying chess pies), there are thankfully other options in the warehouse-y outpost, which has more of a San Francisco industrial vibe than retro kitsch look. The breakfast biscuits filled with bacon and butterkäse are heavy (in a good way); at lunch, lighter sandwiches with turkey, apples, beef and greens are served. While you sip on a Mexican mocha from the Dollop counter, nosh on a hand pie. Yeah, it’s still pie, but it’s small.—BD

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Evanston

Farmhouse Evanston

The Evanston location of the River North beer-focused restaurant opened last summer and has a similar menu but a much larger space.  The main room is airy and bright, and since it’s almost entirely comprised of wood, you feel like you’re eating in a barn. The cuisine is simple but consistently well executed, like fried cheese curds served with house ketchup; a very solid grass-fed burger, even better with the addition of a fried egg; earthy roasted mushrooms and, for brunch, perfect flaky biscuits with butter. The Midwestern beer list notes how many miles away the brews come from, so you can drink a beer from Temperance (1.5 miles down the road in Evanston) or Milwaukee’s Lakefront (74 miles), and marvel over how much good beer is brewed in our backyard.—Amy Cavanaugh

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Evanston

Hewn

As befits the name, Hewn looks like a rustic wood shop inside, but the delectable browned breads coming out of the ovens are the furthest thing from sawdust. The crispy-soft round loaves come studded with olives, pumpkin seeds, Gruyere, walnut, heirloom potatoes, Parmesan, etc. The epi bread, a baguette shaped like a wheat stalk, is as adorable as it is shareable. Head baker, co-owner and backyard chicken aficionado Ellen King specializes in the country baking found in Brittany, France. The means wonderfully caramelized kouign-amann (that’s “butter cake” in Breton) in cupcake form, not to mention many variations of brioche. The bakery puts out sandwiches on weekdays, but head up on a Friday for the flatbread. Toppings like tart goat cheese, golden peppers and candy-sweet onions sit atop a perfect crust. One day a week, this is the best pizza joint in Evanston.—BD

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Evanston

La Macchina

When a place makes its own pasta and roasts its own coffee, it’s not rocket science to suggest you stick with the pasta and coffee. Or perhaps that should be “motorcycle science.” This less heralded Italian spot sits on the suddenly booming stretch of Orrington Avenue that now houses Farmhouse, Naf Naf Grill, Lao Sze Chuan and, er, World of Beer (plus, the upcoming Lyfe Kitchen) instead of abandoned Borders Bookstores and decaying real estate offices. Old red Italian motorcycles decorate the wooden bistro interior. There are bike racers adorning the bags of espresso, too, filled with beans that are roasted offsite at the Coffee Speedshop (2000 Greenleaf Ave, Evanston). The pastas are made and cooked properly (never a sure thing at Italian joints) and left pleasantly simple—typically with no more than three components, like the orecchiette with sausage and rapini, or the tagliatelle in a chunky Bolognese. Pasta constitutes around 68 percent of my homemade meals, but it’s nice to have a neighborhood spot that does it far better.—BD

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Evanston

Lao Sze Chuan Evanston

Tony Hu’s excellent Lao Sze Chuan, which has several city and suburban locations, opened an Evanston outpost in March. The vibe is similar to the Uptown location, and has a lounge feel, with glowing purple-lighted columns, huge panda photographs and bamboo throughout. The menu is pretty much the same as the other spots, with so many dishes it would take ages to try them all. For total newbies to the restaurant or sze chuan cuisine, start with the Chef’s Recommendation section, which includes a mix of spicy and non-spicy dishes. The chef’s special dry chili chicken, chicken with three chilis and sze chuan string bean are all on the list and a good introduction to the fiery cuisine.—AC

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Evanston

Peckish Pig

The newest spot on our list, Debbie and Jamie Evans’s (Celtic Knot, Towbar) Peckish Pig is off to a rocky start, so give it time before you visit. On our trip to the brewpub, which opened in mid-March, the staff seemed perplexed when we asked which beers were made on-site. Try to get an answer out of them, since you’ll want to avoid the cocktails, which are ambitious but unbalanced. The menu is all over the place—mac and cheese, kimchi potato cakes, tuna wellington—and the food was mediocre, with soggy fish and chips (our server insisted we needed the large size, which was a comically huge portion for two, especially since we ordered other food); warm bread that was hard in places, as if it had been microwaved; and a boring dish of avocado hummus. The bar was hopping, though, so the strong selection of Midwest and international beers may be a draw for Evanstonians.—AC

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Evanston

Temperance Beer Company

Critics' pick

It’s damn near impossible to find it, but once you get to the Temperance taproom, you won’t want to leave. There’s a handy aerial map of the location posted on Temperance’s website, which we consulted after circling the streets around the brewery a few times without seeing it. Once there, grab a seat at the wraparound bar or communal tables, or play a game of shuffleboard, which we opted to do since all the seats were filled. The crowd skews older, and consisted mostly of groups of professor types drinking pints while digging into cartons of Chinese food (there’s no food, but you can order delivery or bring snacks in). Temperance’s beers, which are available on tap around the area, are offered at the taproom in pints, half-pints, tasting sizes or as part of a flight. Try the Smittytown Tart, a tarter version of the Smittytown ESB that’s made with a hefty dose of cherries. Come nice weather, the garage door will open onto a patio, and the extra seats will definitely be welcome.—AC

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Evanston

Comments

1 comments
Chip A
Chip A

Don't forget Ward Eight!! The original in the movement!  Amazing cocktails, food and service!  Cody, Anne, Anders, Matt and Pedro put out the best nightlife Evanston has ever known!