Grubbing soon: What’s new to eat this summer in downtown Evanston


Cat Zakrzewski/Daily Senior Staffer

Forever Yogurt, Lao Sze Chuan, Olive Mediterranean Grill and La Macchina Cafe are all opening this summer in downtown Evanston. The popular Chicago eatery Farmhouse opened its first location in Evanston last week.

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant Summer Editor

Passersby clogged the sidewalk in front of Farmhouse Evanston, the city’s newest restaurant, trying to grab a glimpse of the menu on its opening day Wednesday. The Midwestern craft tavern, 703 Church St., is just one of a slew of new dining options hoping to make a splash downtown this summer.

The Evanston restaurant is the second location for the popular Chicago eatery, which specializes in craft beers and local ingredients. The unique menu sports specialties like peanut-butter bread pudding, prime ribeye, house-cured beef jerky and Farmhouse roasted nuts.

Combined with its rustic decor, manager Aaron Steingold said the restaurant will support nearby farms and hire Evanston residents and Northwestern students. Farmhouse Chicago was recommended in the 2013 Michelin Guide Chicago.

“It’s a busy, buzzing tavern feel with a really fantastic choice of food,” Steingold said last month.

Forever Yogurt, 1739 Sherman Ave.

A popular Chicago-area frozen yogurt chain is slated to open its doors in Evanston early this week. Forever Yogurt will be the fourth frozen treat option in downtown Evanston, but franchise owner Kinjal Shah said he is confident there will be enough business for all during the warm summer.

The store will carve out its own niche in the Evanston market by offering the only self-service frozen yogurt — for now. Red Mango is expanding its Davis Street location to include the same service by the end of the summer.

Shah said the store’s proximity to campus will also likely be a big draw for customers. NU decorations are even incorporated into the location.

“We bring a good healthy alternative,” Shah said. “We offer a better overall customer experience.”

Naf Naf Grill, 1629 Orrington Ave.

The Middle Eastern food chain Naf Naf Grill will expand to Evanston on Aug. 1. The pita sandwich shop began in Naperville, Ill., and offers Shawarma, falafel and fries.

The chain recently opened a new location in Rosemont, Ill., and the quickly expanding brand has plans to open two Chicago-area locations in addition to Evanston by the end of the summer. Although existing Naf Naf Grill locations use pagers, the new restaurants will feature an assembly line system similar to Chipotle.

Lao Sze Chuan, 1637 Orrington Ave.

Authentic Chinese cuisine will no longer be an El ride away for Evanston residents in August. Lao Sze Chuan will be owner Tony Hu’s 12th restaurant in the Tony Gourmet Group. Evanston is currently home to Joy Yee’s, Phoenix Inn and Lulu’s, self-described “fusion” restaurants.

“Most of the (customers) are from Asia and a lot of (local) people fall in love with us,” Hu said in May. “I think in Evanston there is a lot of demand for authentic cuisine.”

Olive Mediterranean Grill, 1726 Sherman Ave.

The Chicago-based Olive Mediterranean Grill has chosen Evanston for its third location. The restaurant has received high ratings online for its reasonable prices and healthy options. It  offers an extensive menu of soups, sandwiches and tapas, as well as entrees called “OMG Plates” that include a spread, two sides and a protein for $7.

“Evanston is the perfect location for Olive Mediterranean Grill to open their next location,” Allen Joffe, the restaurant’s realtor, said last month in a news release. “The mixture of college students, faculty and families dovetails nicely with Olive’s core demographic.”

Smylie Bros. Restaurant & Brewery, 1615 Oak Ave.

Smylie Bros. Brewing Company will open Evanston’s first brew pub as early as November. The 10-barrel brewery will offer a variety of craft beers made in house, and the restaurant will serve barbecue and pizza to about 150 seats.

Another brewery, Temperance Beer, is also in the works and likely to open by the end of the year. Evanston, once a national model of temperance, amended its legal code in October to allow owners to brew and serve beer on location.

“We’re really going to focus on using local ingredients and selling beer that’s produced in the Midwest,” Smylie Bros. owner Michael Smylie said in May. “We want to be the community center of beer brewing.”

La Macchina Cafe, 1620 Orrington Ave.

Business partners Chris Casas and Marco Ferranini plan to open a cafe and restaurant this year in downtown Evanston that will feature locally roasted coffee, weekend brunch, shared plates, Italian food and a wine bar. The duo also opened Evanston’s only coffee roaster, Coffee Speed Shop, in May on the city’s west side. The pair have not yet announced a timeline for opening on the cafe’s Facebook page.

“I know we have been slow going, but from here on in it will be a mad dash!” the restaurant said in a Facebook post in May. “All the planning is done and time for action!”

Joy Yee To Go, 1627 Chicago Ave.

A go-to takeout option for NU students is about to get faster. Joy Yee’s Noodles, a pan-Asian cuisine restaurant, has plans to open a new takeout location in Evanston. Joy Yee’s currently boasts one Evanston location and seven Chicago restaurants.  Another Joy Yee To Go recently opened in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.

Assistant summer editor Cat Zakrzewski can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at