Daily file photo by Jeffrey Wang
According to Clarence Weaver, owner of C&W Market and Ice Cream Parlor, supporting one black-owned eatery in Evanston supports them all. To spread this message, Weaver founded the Black Business Consortium of Evanston North Shore in 2015 with his wife, Wendy, and Larry and Jean Murphy, owners of YoFresh Yogurt Cafe. The BBCENS provides networking opportunities and other resources to black business owners in the city, as well as works to increase the visibility of such businesses amongst community members.
The BBCENS website lists over 50 black-owned businesses in and around Evanston, from fitness centers to clothing stores. There are also dozens of eateries that hone in on a variety of cuisines, some of which operate online or as pop-up shops. Here are a handful of black-owned eateries in Evanston, and near campus, you can enjoy this year, whether you choose to dine-in, take-out or order-in.
Breakfast and brunch
Getting a table at Clarke’s Off Campus is an achievement any Northwestern student should be proud of. The diner is over 30 years old and a beloved Evanston restaurant that in pre-pandemic times often had a line of customers out the door. Between stacks of golden-brown pancakes dripping with maple syrup and omelets stuffed with cheese, you’ll never leave hungry.
Ovo Frito Cafe is another popular breakfast and brunch spot near campus. Its menu features delectable waffles, pancakes and French toast. Anyone who has tried it will tell you to order the Cornflakes-Crusted French Toast served with warm blueberry peach compote, creme anglaise sauce, powdered sugar and whipped cream.
When a lukewarm piece of dining hall pizza just won’t do, venture to Litehouse Evanston or Buffalo Joe’s West Howard Street location for a midday bite. Each serves hearty meals that will help you power through an afternoon of classes. Litehouse Evanston calls its cuisine “healthy fast food,” offering salads, wraps, noodle bowls, pizza, tacos and more. In contrast, Buffalo Joes is known for its saucy wings, fried fish chips and sandwiches served on a warm toasted roll. Polish your meal off with cheese fries, and throw in a slice of sweet potato pie.
Evanston is home to a plethora of Jamaican restaurants, including Claire’s Korner, Taste of Jamaica, Kingston Grill, Good to Go Jamaican Cuisine and Da Jerk Pit. Each kitchen cooks up authentic dishes like jerk chicken, oxtail, catfish and fried plantains, but restaurant owners put their own personal touches on food, too. Jennifer’s Edibles also serves Jamaican soul food, and has an all-day breakfast menu featuring items like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits.
Famous for its ribs and barbecue sauce, Hecky’s Barbecue is a landmark Evanston institution. Many of Hecky’s dishes are filling dinner options, and the restaurant also has an express lunch option during the week. But if you’re in the mood for perfectly cooked tenders and wings, nothing beats Harold’s Chicken. Harold’s mixed chicken buckets are sure to feed a crowd, although one bite will make you wish you had the whole thing to yourself.
Despite Evanston’s frigid temperatures in the winter (and fall… and sometimes spring), Cold Stone Creamery and C&W Market and Ice Cream Parlor offer scoops of rich ice cream year-round. Both businesses also have customizable sundaes on the menu and dozens of flavors to try. As a lighter, healthier alternative to ice cream, YoFresh Yogurt Cafe sells flavored frozen yogurt, including non-dairy and sugar-free options. Owner Larry Murphy said YoFresh is more than just a frozen yogurt shop, however. It’s also a community gathering place, and somewhere for students and residents alike to spend quality time together.
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— “A home away from home”: Jennifer’s Edibles celebrates hard work
— As “business as usual” remains a long way off, C&W Market & Ice Cream Parlor remains a source for basic necessities
— A list of Evanston black-owned businesses you can support