Long-standing Evanston eateries comprise a rich restaurant scene


Kara Peeler/Daily Senior Staffer

Dave’s Italian Kitchen is located at 815 Noyes St. The restaurant, which opened in 1972, has called many spots around town home.

Kara Peeler, Development and Recruitment Editor

Evanston’s food scene is abundant. So much so that Thrillist named it one of the best suburbs in America to “grab good eats.” With brunch, dine-in and take-out options galore, the city has it all. 

“Any kind of cuisine you’re looking for, you’ll find … really lovely, cozy places to eat that are friendly,” Evanston resident Jill Greenman said. “There’s so many to choose from. I never think about going into (Chicago) most nights for dinner, because there’s plenty in Evanston.” 

Some of Evanston’s longest-standing spots have helped build the bustling food culture many residents love today. 

Ricardo Sanchez opened Evanston Chicken Shack in 1990. The Ridge Avenue restaurant has earned critical acclaim, most recently beingnamed one of HuffPost’s best fried chicken spots in America and Mashed’s best fried chicken joint in Illinois in March.

Sanchez, who still owns Evanston Chicken Shack, said the restaurant’s consistency has drawn customers back to his booming business. With menu items ranging from bestselling chicken nuggets and fried chicken to hickory-smoked rib-tips, the restaurant serves food to a swath of customers every day.

“I really believe when people think about the Chicken Shack, they’ve already got that taste in their mouth,” he said. 

Sanchez said running the restaurant for the past 33 years has been a passion project, rather than work. He added he’s enjoyed watching his customer base grow up and flourish. 

Sanchez said he’s built relationships with many customers over time –– and even spots former regulars who’ve moved away when they return to Evanston Chicken Shack occasionally. 

From his decades working in the suburb, Sanchez said he’s seen a “great array” of eateries open as residents and new students have entered the city. 

“Downtown and all these high rises that are up now were not there when we first got there,” he said. “There weren’t as many restaurants (then), so the food scene has really grown.” 

Local business owner Dave Glatt also said he has noticed a rise in cuisines available in Evanston. Glatt runs Dave’s Italian Kitchen, which is now on Noyes Street after having operated in five different locations since the restaurant opened in 1972.

Glatt said though there has been a “takeout boom” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, his eatery still seats 25. 

Evanston was a dry town until 1972, before easing liquor licenses for restaurants. Glatt said this change encouraged the restaurant business. Dave’s Italian Kitchen began serving beer and wine in 1981​​, which Glatt said has positively impacted his restaurant. 

At the restaurant, Glatt makes his own baguette in-house to pair with fan-favorite meals like lasagna, calzones and hand-tossed pizza. He also prioritizes accessible pricing to the general public, he said. 

“We try to take doing homemade food as far as we can,” Glatt said. “(There’s) always been this idea of value-driven homemade food. That’s what I love about it.” 

Greenman, who has lived in Evanston for about 25 years, recently dined at Dave’s Italian Kitchen for the first time since its latest relocation. She said the “hole-in-the-wall restaurant” was delicious. 

For takeout, Greenman said she tends to order out from Joy Yee Noodle — an Evanston staple since 1994 — or Cozy Noodles and Rice. She also recalls happy memories at Asian fare restaurant Lulu’s, which used to offer toy dinosaurs to her three children. 

Evanston is also well-known for its brunch options, Greenman said. The Lucky Platter on Main Street is one of her go-to late morning or early afternoon spots. Ovo Frito Café was recently named one of the 100 best brunch restaurants in the U.S. by Yelp.

What keeps businesses going, Greenman said, is community support. 

“Evanston just has a really nice social culture of going out and eating or drinking,” she said. “It’s part of what makes Evanston such a lovely place to live and to visit.”


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @karapeeler

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