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The EAT List

The best restaurants in Evanston

Whether you're after pizza or Peking duck, you can find it all at the best Evanston restaurants

By Amy Cavanaugh

Though Evanston might not have a dining scene as large as its cousin to the south, Chicago, the best restaurants in Evanston still aren't anything to scoff at. Not only is this city home to some of the finest eateries around, but most of them are easily reachable by the CTA and Metra. And no matter your tastes, you're bound to find something pleasantly palatable, from perfect pizzas to brunch biscuits to gorgeously griddled burgers. Check out our picks of the best restaurants in Evanston and start making reservations. We're already salivating. 

RECOMMENDED: Out complete guide to Evanston

Evanston's best restaurants

Edzo’s Burger Shop
Photograph: Marina Makropoulos

1. Edzo’s Burger Shop

Why go? The thin, griddled burgers with crisp edges are an Evanston institution.

Opened in 2009, Eddie Lakin's burger joint fast became a favourite among the pattie-loving masses. Get a 4oz or 8oz, or opt for the chicken, turkey or veggie burgers, or even a hotdog. Also on the menu are addictively delicious fries (especially when covered in truffle salt) and five-dollar milkshakes.

Price range: bargain.

Photo: Jaclyn Rivas

2. Boltwood

Why go? It's the perfect spot for a dinner with friends that turns into an evening of cocktails.

Former Publican chef Brian Huston went back to his roots when opening Boltwood in his hometown with John Kim of Brothers K Coffee House. The menu changes daily, but you'll always find bar snacks, like half-shell oysters and cinnamon roll donuts, and lots of veggie options, like grilled eggplant with chili and cashews. The bar turns out very nice cocktails too.

Price range: average.

Photograph: Martha Williams

3. Campagnola

Why go? Impress a foodie friend at this sophisticated Italian restaurant.

The focus here is on good food made with good ingredients; organic to be precise. For an edible slice of heaven, discover diver scallops with creamed leeks and herb gremolata, the octopus with braised gigante beans and honey or the mustard-crusted rack of lamb. And, while drinks choices are somewhat limited, the mostly Italian wine list offers some exciting choices. This team also runs Union Pizzeria down the street, which offers and more casual vibe, as well as Hummingbird Kitchen, their food truck.

Price range: average.

Joy Yee's Noodles is one of our favorite spots for cheap eats in Chinatown.
Photo: Erica Gannett

4. Joy Yee’s Noodles

Why go? Everyone from students to busy worker bees flock to this pan-Asian delight.

The Joy Yee mini empire took root in Evanston back in 1993 and continues to pack in the crowds. The menu isn't as adventurous as their Chinatown outpost, but it's worth stopping in for mussels with black-bean sauce, garlicky chicken or a gargantuan bowl of udon-noodle soup. Not forgetting the pastel-colored bubble tea that they claim to have introduced to Chicagoland.

Price range: average.

Farmhouse Evanston
Photograph: Martha Williams

5. Farmhouse Evanston

Why go? The beer-focused menu should satisfy any craft enthusiast.

The cuisine here is simple but consistently well executed, like fried cheese curds, a very solid grass-fed burger (even better with the addition of a fried egg) and, for brunch, flaky biscuits with butter. The Midwestern beer list notes how far the brews have travelled, so you can taste a tipple from Temperance (1.5 miles down the road in Evanston) or Milwaukee’s Lakefront (74 miles). As for the venue itself, Farmhouse Evanston shows it's admiration for country-style living with exposed brick walls, wooden features and understated smallholding decor. 

Price range: average.

Found restaurant
Photo: Jason Little

6. Found

Why go? Found will suit a bunch of students on a budget just as well as suburbanites after a fine three-course meal.

Owner Amy Morton and chef Nicole Pederson (formerly of C-House and Lula Cafe) have given Evanston the restaurant it’s been searching for: Found. Whether you like the found object–inspired decor is a matter of preference, but Pederson’s thoughtful, unfussy food (small plates like juicy lamb meatballs with pistachios, entrées like rushing waters trout with lentils and parsnips) has universal appeal.

Price range: average.

Lao Sze Chuan. Located at 1633 Orrington Avenue, Evanston IL.
Photograph: Hannah Bourne

7. Lao Sze Chuan

Why go? For the brilliant lounge vibes, replete with glowing purple columns, panda photographs and bamboo.

The menu at Tony Hu’s excellent Lao Sze Chuan has 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 dry chili chicken and Szechuan string bean make for a good introduction to the fiery cuisine.

Price range: average.

The Lucky Platter

8. The Lucky Platter

Why go? Good ol' home cookin' of all varieties for the can't-deciders.

The Lucky Platter used to be much more kitsch, but new owners a few years back renovated to a more user-friendly decor. Thankfully, they kept the menu in tact and the place remains just as busy, if not more so. Explore the globe via your tastebuds, with Mexican omelettes, tandoori grilled salmon and Moroccan vegetable tagine all on offer. Wash it down with a craft beer.

Price range: average.


9. Union Pizzeria

Why go? Thin and crispy Neapolitan pizzas in a warm, laidback setting.

Evanston's top spot for pizza looks like an old bank from the outside, but offers a much warmer welcome. Settle in for a highly devourable pie; the crusty-chewy dough topped with the likes of lamb or eggplant. The small plates and specials are worth shouting about too, with tender octopus or lasagna with a veal and pancetta ragu just a couple of the temptations on offer.

Price range: average. 

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