Chicago/Evanston places to go?
July 18, 2013 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Visiting northwest side of Chicago this weekend, staying in Evanston. It's been YEARS since I've been back and I'm noticing on Yelp all my old favorite places have closed or gone terribly downhill. Can anyone recommend any cool places to check out? Chicago sights/tastes for my partner who hasn't seen much of the city?

I'd like to show my partner some of Chicago's glories, like Italian beef, Chicago-style pizza, etc. but I no longer know what places are best. Neither of us are big drinkers so we don't really want to bar-hop, and we are trying to not spend too much on food. We like bookstores, interesting museums (I know the usuals -- Science and Industry, Field, Art Institute, MCA) but is there any place else neat to visit we should look at?

I've checked out some old threads but I know things change pretty fast in Chicago. I'll also be heading out to Wilmette to visit a friend and the area of Chicago my mom lives in is close to Lincolnwood and Skokie but still in Chicago proper. Any help or ideas would be GREATLY appreciated!
posted by Locative to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (25 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Pequods.
posted by phunniemee at 8:14 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also: need someplace healthy/casual to take my almost-80 year old mom for dinner. She eats almost exclusively at Whole Foods so she likes healthy places, but hasn't been to a restaurant in ages.
posted by Locative at 8:15 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Does "casual" mean "inexpensive" to you? Or just, "you don't have to get gussied up?"

If it's the latter, I really love this place called Province. It's downtown bordering the West Loop, so not tremendously convenient to where you'll be, but good god the food is amazing.
posted by phunniemee at 8:19 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: I love Joy Yee's in Evanston. It is fairly casual but can get pretty busy and bustling. Blind Faith Cafe would also be a good, healthy option.

This is not really typical Chicago fare, but may I strongly recommend Al's Deli for lunch one day? It is a fantastic little deli owned and operated by a pair of brothers. Their sandwiches and cookies are just out of this world. I lived around the corner about 10 years ago and I still dream about the dill havarti sandwich!
posted by marshmallow peep at 8:44 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Seconding Pequods for Chicago-style pizza. I think the other goto for Chicago-style is Lou Malnatti's, which will have more locations to choose from.

For beef, I like Mr. Beef on Orleans - close to the Brown Line.

While it doesn't look like they have a Chicago style hot dog, SuperDawg is close to where you are staying, and is a "Chicago institution".

I might be conflating vegetarian and healthy, but Native Foods is good, casual, and relatively inexpensive. So are Chicago Diner and Handlebar.
posted by baniak at 9:04 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: It's only open until 3 PM, but M. Henry in Andersonville has an absolutely phenomenal breakfast/brunch/lunch service [Yelp, menu] -- all organic, free-range, locally-sourced, etc. It's only a ten-minute drive from Lincolnwood, about 15 minutes south of Evanston.

If you're OK with vegetarian food, Blind Faith Café is in Evanston proper [Yelp].

If you're not opposed to hopping on the Blue Line, Quimby's and Myopic Books in Wicker Park are the best bookstores, IMO, and adjacent to a whole bunch of cool stuff (EX: Reckless Records, swoon).
I'm vegan, so I haven't had it myself, but I've heard really great things about Lou Malnati's for deep dish pizza; their Bucktown/WP location is similarly adjacent to the big Milwaukee/North/Damen corner (Damen Blue Line stop), but they also have locations in Evanston, Lincolnwood, and Wilmette.

I would definitely recommend a visit to INTUIT (The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art), which is a stone's throw from the Chicago Blue Line stop, as well as the IMSS (International Museum of Surgical Science), which is a couple of miles north of Navy Pier on Lake Shore Drive.
posted by divined by radio at 9:05 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Unfortunately, I can't say I've hit them lately, but Max's Italian Beef and Dengeo's are very unlikely to change, which means they're still killer places for Italian beef, and in the case of Dengeo's, also hot dogs, ribs, and gyros. By the same token, I'd bet dollars to pitas that Pita Inn's Combination Feast still rules.

Dag, I'm hungry now.
posted by ignignokt at 9:17 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: divined by radio: "It's only open until 3 PM, but M. Henry in Andersonville has an absolutely phenomenal breakfast/brunch/lunch service [Yelp, menu] -- all organic, free-range, locally-sourced, etc. It's only a ten-minute drive from Lincolnwood, about 15 minutes south of Evanston."

M. Henry rocks.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:50 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Well, OBVIOUSLY Hot Doug's. Get there early, you'll wait in line. Duck fat french fries on Fridays.
posted by amaire at 9:55 AM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pequod's is good, but since you'll be nearby you should go Burt's Place in Morton Grove. (Burt used to own Pequod's.) Call a day ahead to place your order, or you'll be out of luck. I'd bet your mom will love it.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:11 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: M Henry's sister cafe M Henrietta is easier to get to from Evanston (right off of red line), has longer hours too. My favorite Chicago-style pizza is the spinach pizza at Bacinos. I've only been to the one on Wacker. I second SuperDawg for sheer cheesy charm and the Surgical Museum mentioned above is pretty darn swell.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 10:15 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Also Pequods has a $5 personal pan pizza + drink lunch deal on the weekdays that is an excellent value.
posted by srboisvert at 10:16 AM on July 18, 2013

Response by poster: Wow, never even heard of Pequods or Myopic Books! Excited to try both!

Blind Faith is where my mom always used to ask to go, I had forgotten all about it. That will be perfect for her!

Pita Inn is where I got food all the time when I worked in Skokie. Love their food, so glad they're still open!

Looks like Amaranth Books in Evanston is still open, but can't figure out if Bookman's Alley is or not. On Yelp someone eulogized it, but then someone reviewed it a month later. Anyone in Evanston know for sure?

Is SuperDawg the one on Peterson Ave near Mather High School?

Any more suggestions are gladly welcome. Thanks so much everyone!
posted by Locative at 10:50 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: This weekend is the Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival. I haven't been in the past so I can't tell you if it's great, but it sounds nice and we'll probably go. (Unless it stays 95+ degrees, then maybe not!)
posted by Glinn at 11:12 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: I think M. Henry is overrated - the food and service is not worth the line, IMO - but Big Jones just down the street is fantastic for brunch.

I love love love Pequods, but it's not Chicago deep dish, it's pan pizza which is a different delicious animal. I like Gino's North warning: autoplay youtube music, on Granville (not associated with any other Gino's) for true Chicago deep dish.
posted by misskaz at 11:18 AM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: When I lived there a year ago, Bookman's Alley was still open, and I haven't heard otherwise.

And if you want the best burgers in Chicago, you're looking for EDZO'S which is at Sherman and Davis. Absolutely unbeatable.

There is also Al's Deli off the Noyes stop that has excellent sandwiches and soups. That may fit your mom's healthy requirement.

Also a big fan of Weiner and Still Champion at Chicago and Dempster for dogs and pickle chips. And Joy Yee for greasy Chinese, Dixie Kitchen for fried okra and jambalaya on Church. Cody's on Davis for noodles and Tom kha gaii.

Man. I don't miss much about Chicago, but I miss the eating.
posted by honeybee413 at 12:02 PM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Hello!?! Baha'i Temple! Free and awesome!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:05 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Evanston has shockingly good restaurants. I love The Cellar for great ambience, food, and drinks, good prices. We bring all our fancy NYC friends there and they love it. There's also Union/Space for tasty thin crust pizza that also supports the arts (and its attached music venue). For great bbq and fried food there's Buffalo Joe's on Green Bay Road (the one on Clark has a smaller menu, just wings). Bookman's Alley is still open and interesting - - half used bookstore, half museum/curiosity shop, in the alley behind Sherman Avenue. The Unicorn Cafe on Sherman is where the students and locals hang out, and it's got nice sandwiches and baked goods.

A walk to the lake through the Northwestern campus and a view of the skyline at the southern end is worth the stroll. Enjoy!
posted by walla at 2:36 PM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Oh, and Wiener and Still Champion is amazing, but be prepared if you are bringing, um, adults there - it is FILTHY. I cannot eat there anymore but if I can bring myself to do it, I get takeout and eat it in the car. And hope the high grill heat burned off the cooties. Shudder. Yum.
posted by walla at 2:40 PM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: In Skokie, you can't beat Poochie's for burgers and hot dogs. Okay, I think I'm done now.
posted by walla at 2:44 PM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Ooh, you should check out Squeezebox Books & Music in Evanston, right next to Union/Space. (And run by a friend of mine.)
posted by hydrophonic at 4:19 PM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Central Street in Evanston might be on your way from your mom's. I love The Spice House there, and there are some fun boutique places. Also, Foodstuffs which has some interesting lunch items.
posted by BibiRose at 7:49 PM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: Oh, yeah, and American Science and Surplus is a good weird shopping experience. It's where bags of plain colored wooden cubes sit an aisle away from gas masks and dental picks!
posted by ignignokt at 8:08 PM on July 18, 2013

Best answer: One of the Morton family (Morton's Steakhouse) just started a place called Found in Evanston that's getting rave reviews.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:46 PM on July 20, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the fantastic recommendations! I didn't have enough time to go to all the places I wanted, but I took as much of your advice as possible. Best-answering a ton because these are great suggestions and I'm going to go to a bunch on my next trip.

FOOD: Ran out of time to get Chicago-style pizza from Pequods, but Giordano's was a fine substitute when time was short (the one in Evanston is open pretty late). Prioritizing Pequods for next visit definitely. Was able to hit up Joy Yee's for bubble tea and had to go back the following night for another. Huge place and the food portions looked generous. Andy's Frozen Custard in Evanston was a good late-night cool treat, though that's more of a St. Louis thing. Other Brother Coffeehouse in Evanston was a nice alternative to Starbucks. Took my mom to The Grafton in Lincoln Square for Irish pub food and Tre Kronor on Foster for Scandinavian, both places were great. I am glad Unicorn Cafe is still there, that's also a good place that I didn't make it to recommended above. I also checked out Lawrence Deans Bake Shop in Wilmette, great family-owned bakery and right near a Jewel where I could pick up some Jay's BBQ Potato Chips. Simone's Bar in University Village/Pilsen area was a bit loud, but it was walking distance from my friend's place, so that's why we went there.

SHOPPING/SIGHTSEEING: Evanston favorite Amaranth Books was happily still there, and the above-recommended Myopic Books did not disappoint. Baha'i Temple was a must-see, I'd driven past it many times but walking the gardens and exterior is well worth it. The staff/volunteers there couldn't be friendlier, too. A great place for photos. Love American Science and Surplus from my childhood, it was on my list but I didn't make it there either. Saw the Art Institute, Field Museum (the Lascaux Cave Paintings exhibit is pretty awesome), the lakefront, Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Bean, Millennium Park, as well (was trying to give my travel companion an idea of some of my favorites, excepting the Bean, but it's neat so whatever).

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to respond!
posted by Locative at 9:54 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

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