Minority- and woman-owned small businesses to visit in Evanston


Daily file photo by Susanna Kemp

Hecky’s Barbecue is one of many minority- and women-owned businesses to visit in Evanston.

Avani Kalra, Senior Staffer

Your years in Evanston won’t be complete without a visit to at least one of these small, minority-owned businesses in the city. Whether you are looking for a sweet treat, warm cup of coffee or gift to bring home for Christmas, Evanston has no shortage of places to visit. 

Artem Pop Up Gallery (1627 Sherman Ave.)

Artem Pop Up Gallery has hundreds of art pieces, from prints to jewelry and trinket options. It sells products from 22 different artists, all either independent or part of a small business. Most pieces are crafted by local and regional artists, so you can learn about nearby talent and impress your parents with extensive local art knowledge you definitely learned in class. 

10Q Chicken (816 Church St.)

I am literally a vegetarian and obsessed with 10Q Chicken. Founders David Yoo and Will Song opened 10Q to honor their love of fried chicken. They traveled across the world to identify the perfect recipe and infuse classic American fried chicken with flavors from their time living in East Asia. For the record, 10Q has the most fire tofu bowls. It’s the perfect treat after a bad midterm and it has matcha soft serve ice cream. 

Coffee Lab & Roasters (910 Noyes St.)

The ultimate study spot, it is almost impossible to get a seat at Coffee Lab on a Saturday morning. Featuring unique pour-over coffee and freshly roasted espresso beans each week, Coffee Lab considers itself a second living room for many students. It also sells Filipino-Chinese, Korean and Japanese pastries, along with homemade butter mochi cakes, or bibingka. My suggestion? An ube latte with a shot of espresso. It tastes like Christmas in a cup.

Berry Pike Cafe (1100 Davis St.)

It’s a bit of a trek, but Berry Pike Cafe is the home of the authentic liege waffle. The recipe uses Belgian pearl sugar and melts in your mouth. Bagel sandwiches, smoothies and bubble tea are among your other options. 

Cozy Noodles & Rice (1018 Davis St.)

Once a quarter, I order Cozy Noodles to Main Library during Finals Week. But you’ve got to visit the restaurant to get the full experience. Eat pad thai and sip on Thai iced tea while you read dozens of signs with inspirational quotes and look at license plates from all over the world. It’s perfect for a first date or a night out alone; you can’t possibly be bored (or run out of things to talk about) examining the walls at this Evanston institution. 

Table to Stix Ramen (1007 Davis St.)

Right across the street from Cozy, Table to Stix is named for the instant ramen we often enjoy standing up or on the floor in our residence hall rooms after late nights out. Since instant ramen is such a staple of the college-student diet, Table to Stix aims to offer quality and traditional bowls of ramen loaded with fresh veggies, egg and whatever toppings you want. Basically, it tastes nothing like instant ramen. 

Hoosier Mama Pie Company (749 Chicago Ave.)

As the day progresses at Hoosier Mama, so does the food. Breakfast pastries, buttermilk biscuit sandwiches and espressos are served until they’re out. Lunch and dinner feature quiches, sweet pies, savory pies, hand pies, gallettes and soup. Hoosier Mama is basically the only thing that’s ever gotten me out of bed before 11 on a weekend. It runs out throughout the day, so you’ve got no choice but to get there early.

Good To Go Jamaican Cuisine (711 W. Howard St.)

There’s no way you make it through your freshman year without a visit to this event space, but it’s worth checking out for the cuisine, too. Before you start dancing the night away, try out some Jamaican food like jerk chicken and curry shrimp. 

Hecky’s Barbecue (1902 Green Bay Road)

A longtime Evanston favorite, Hecky’s Barbecue was founded by Evanston icon Hecky Powell. He opened the restaurant in 1983 with just $100 in the register and the store has sponsored many community initiatives since. Hecky’s says it hires young people and trains them for higher-level customer service jobs in their future. The secret to Hecky’s is (apparently) the sauce. People literally buy it throughout Chicago (You can even get it on Amazon). 

Ovo Frito Cafe (1936 Maple Ave.)

Conveniently located a few blocks from campus, Ovo Frito was founded by Roberto Flores from Mexico and Zinnia Iglesias from Belize. The two call the cafe “a dream for an American dream,” and its menu literally has everything you could ever think of. 

Tomate Fresh Kitchen (914 Noyes St.)

It’s 4 p.m. You’re walking back to the residence hall, in need of a large burrito before you go home and take a nap … for the rest of the night. Your only option is Tomate, street food conveniently located on Noyes Street. Tomate isn’t your typical street food, though. It has desserts, empanadas and tamales, among other things, and works to infuse fresh vegetables with typical Latin spices. Tomate began with chef and founder Tania Merlos-Ruiz selling food at Chicago farmers markets and first opened its doors in 2013. 

NiceLena & Friends (1235 Chicago Ave.)

NiceLena exemplifies the power of “imaginative play.” You can find jewelry, gifts, books and other home goods, all inspired by the founder, Nice Lena. Her passions for painting and crafting and her childhood spent surrounded by nature in South Korea show through in her design process and products. 

Chicken Shack (1925 Ridge Ave.)

Chicken Shack, famous for its deep-fried chicken, has been in operation for more than 30 years. All of its food is freshly cooked and hits the spot when you’re in need of that late-night study snack. It’s been named the #1 fried chicken place in Chicago and Illinois. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @avanidkalra

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