Evanston is only 45 minutes away from the culturally diverse heart of Chicago. However, its population is overwhelmingly white, accounting for 66% of the residents. Evanston restaurants, however, are pockets of culture for students and residents to experience through various ethnic spreads. For some Northwestern students, these places are a reminder of their home and culture.
Cozy Noodles and Rice
1018 Davis St.
This Thai restaurant is a small hole-in-the-wall that serves a wide selection of noodle-based entrées. The walls are covered in an eye- catching array of trinkets; colorful 1960s ads, pop culture figurines and action toys make it look like an eccentric collector’s basement. For all of its unconventional decor, the cooking at Cozy Noodles has a distinctly homey feel. Options such as pad see ew, a dish made of stir- fried noodles with the tangy flavor of soy sauce, and the staple Thai Tom Yum soup, known for its sour and spicy taste, are perfect on a cold Evanston night. Prices average around $10 for entrees, which is well worth the experience of eating here. (It’s also BYOB.)
825 Church St.
Habibi In, meaning “darling” in Arabic, is located on Church Street,
easily identifiable by the ever-present smell of kebabs that lingers
around its storefront. Although it may resemble a fast food joint more
than a classic restaurant on first glance, Habibi In specializes in
filling quick and delicious halal food. The meat here is prepared and
blessed according to the requirements laid out by the Quran.
Rice platters are around $11-$14; the portions are large, and the smell of Arab chicken brings about a strong sense of comfort, especially when paired with the “white sauce” (something I find necessary, otherwise the meat might be too dry). Besides its platters, the restaurant also serves a sweet date milkshake at $4.99, which might come in handy when it’s Ramadan and Target runs out of dates. Other meals include Middle Eastern classics such as gyros and falafel, but Weinberg second-year Natalie Bartolomei recommends the lesser known kibbeh, a type of beef or lamb croquette, which she says made her “super happy” since it was similar to a meal that her Lebanese mother would prepare for her.
526 Davis St.
This sleek and modern sushi restaurant lives in the heart of downtown Evanston, just a block south of Whole Foods. It provides several comforting options, such as miso soup and teriyaki-glazed salmon, but also serves a traditional array of sushi rolls. California rolls and shrimp tempura are its more standard offerings, while unique rolls like "Sex on the Beach," which contains shrimp, eel, mango and lobster, are available for the more adventurous customer. Its sushi is well-made but not stellar compared to the more accessible Whole Foods sushi, especially considering the price (a standard California roll is $5.50). However, there is a special meal plan where customers can pay $100 to order five sushi sets throughout the year, each set including three rolls and two appetizers.
1026 Davis St.
The moment you walk into Taco Diablo, you can’t help but feel the warm ambience of its rustic appearance. With exposed brown brick walls and hanging lightbulbs, this establishment is very cozy. Even the paintings bring a sense of joy through their bright colors and depictions of various Mexican celebrations. This is not a basic Mexican chain restaurant like Chipotle; instead, it offers fresh ingredients and a taste that will make you think it was home-cooked. The restaurant serves a wide range of tacos, from the carne asada to more specialized tacos like the duck and pork chorizo. You can clearly see the stack of ingredients on the tacos, including the lettuce, meat and perfectly-placed sauces.
Mumbai Indian Grill
1728 Sherman Ave.
Instead of trying to find a slightly overpriced thrifted item at
Crossroads Trading, stop by this small Indian restaurant to its left.
It’s easy to miss, and its red awning blends into the looming presence
of the nearby Northwestern Campus Gear store. However, this restaurant
is worth the search: Its naan brings more comfort than a purple hoodie
ever could. Inside, you’ll find a small and cozy establishment adorned
with quaint curtains.
The restaurant's food comes in large portions, so the $13.99 for chicken tikka masala is not wasted. While it has popular curry options, go for the biryani (vegetable or chicken), as it is a wonderful explosion of spices such as saffron, cumin and coriander — a break from the bland food in the dining halls.
“It all felt like home food,” SESP first-year Armaan Ajani said. “It was the same as going to Devon Street in Chicago ... I could tell it was authentic Indian food.”