Fill your stomach without emptying your wallet

Hayley Glatter, Copy Chief

As the wise mechanic in “The Princess Diaries” reminded a young, impressionable, pre-trendy-haircut Anne Hathaway, “It costs to be cool.”

You know what else it costs to do? Eat.

There are a lot of good, inexpensive food options in Evanston, but the fact is that every once in a while, it’s fun to replace that regular groutfit with a nice ensemble and dine somewhere. Yes, dine. Not eat, but dine.

The unfortunate truth, though, is that not all of us are the princess of Genovia, so we don’t have the unlimited disposable income that only the magical Julie Andrews can provide. That being said, some of Evanston’s pricier eateries are not out of reach. Rather than schlepping your sweatpant-clad self to Burger King again, kick up your food game a notch without emptying your wallet. Who says college kids can’t be classy?

Pete Miller’s

1557 Sherman Ave.

Steakhouses are really expensive, and Pete Miller’s is no exception. With the average dinner entree coming in at more than $25, this may seem like a place to visit only when mommy and daddy are paying, but there are affordable options on the menu if you know where to look. Instead of salivating over some lobster or filet mignon, try an item from the bar menu. From burgers to tacos, all the items on this menu are under $16 and come with a side of mashed potatoes, hand-cut fries, a baked potato or roasted red skin potatoes. The high-quality meat used in all of Pete Miller’s dishes makes its way onto the bar menu but at a much lower cost.

Bat 17

1709 Benson Ave.

Chuck E. Cheese’s is a place where “a kid can be a kid.” So is Evanston.

Evanston is also a place where an almost-but-still-in-denial adult can be a kid. The perfect place to do that: Bat 17. The restaurant bar is notorious for heaping portions, tiny tables and low prices, but your wallet doesn’t have to shrink as your stomach, well, enlarges.

Instead of ordering a sandwich that will probably be too big to finish anyway, check out Bat 17’s awesome kid’s menu. For just $6.99, your stomach can be the happy recipient of a smaller sized sandwich, a cookie, chips and a drink. That’s a pretty stellar deal.

Flat Top Grill

707 Church St.

Flat Top is a stir-fry mecca, and though stuffing your bowl with as much rice and vegetables as humanly possible is always a solid option, there are other ways to get more than your money’s worth at this restaurant. The true secret to achieving success at Flat Top is utilizing the free customizable stick options located at the end of the stir-fry bar.

First of all, you should be getting eggs in your stir-fry. Just pop a black stick in your dish  it will add some major flare to your DIY meal. Second, the blue stick gives you free roti bread, which is essentially a greasy, delicious, southeast Asian take on a tortilla. It’s so good, and your waiter or waitress will usually bring you extra pieces if you ask nicely. You can also change your meal into soup or lettuce wraps free of charge with the yellow and green sticks. There are plenty of other opportunities to shake up your stir-fry without handing over your hard-earned cash.

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