Evanston Eats


A taste of Evanston at home.

Written by Nathan Omprasadham // Designed by Maren Kranking // Photos by Carly Menker

If you’re mourning the loss of Andy’s (it’s still there, as long as you’re still in denial) or just craving a cozy latte from Unicorn Cafe, you’re in luck: some of Evanston’s eateries have shared how they’ve been holding up during lockdown, and we've developed some at-home recipes so you can recreate Evanston classics in your own kitchen.

The sudden exodus of Northwestern students from Evanston has left some of our favorite restaurants scrambling for ways to stay afloat. Some, like the beloved Tomate Fresh Kitchen, are closed temporarily and plan to reopen. Other locations, like 10Q Chicken and La Cocinita, are keeping business alive through delivery and carryout services. Grab-and-go locations like Bennison’s Bakery have managed the new restrictions particularly well.

In addition to running their own deliveries, some restaurants have also used third-party delivery services like Grubhub and Uber Eats to bring meals to customers. In an attempt to help businesses that might be financially struggling during the pandemic, the Evanston City Council approved a resolution on April 27 to limit the amount these services can charge Evanston restaurants to no more than 15 percent of the online order price. For some establishments that have yet to receive Small Business Administration loans, the resolution has helped offset widespread layoffs.

"Because of the drop in sales, which has been 50 to 60 percent, we had to cut a lot of our part-timers,” says Johnny Park, general manager at 10Q Chicken.

Even as shelter-in-place laws impact business, many restaurants have committed to giving back to the local community and those on the front lines. For each "Charity Cookie" sold, Bennison’s donates $1.50 to the Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund, and La Cocinita has started a GoFundMe to feed local first responders.

If you're in the Evanston area (and can afford to do so), ordering from your favorite small businesses can make a world of difference in keeping them afloat. For the many who are far away, though, give these adapted imitation recipes a try.

AREPAS from La Cocinita

Note: Recipe courtesy of La Cocinita. If you want to be authentically Venezuelean and impress the owners, use Harina P.A.N.

  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 pound masa, or pre-cooked cornmeal
  1. In a large bowl, mix oil and salt with warm water until the salt dissolves.
  2. In small increments, add the masa to the water, kneading it until it becomes smooth and lump-free. Continue until you've mixed in all the masa.
  3. Form the masa dough into patties about 3/4 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter, ensuring that the edges are smooth and free of cracks.
  4. Cook the patties on a griddle at medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes on each side, until light golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside.
  5. Slice the arepas open about 2/3 of the way around to create a wide opening. Fill with desired toppings, like meat, cheese, veggies or scrambled eggs.
  6. Enjoy, while imagining you're in a small Venezuelan kitchen with friends!


Note: This recipe is adapted to be made without an ice-cream maker, because who has one of those?

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  1. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and salt until fluffy and pale yellow.
  2. Add the evaporated milk to a pot over medium heat and slowly bring to a low simmer (do not let boil).
  3. Ladle a spoonful of the milk into the egg and sugar mix while whisking to temper the mixture. Repeat two or three more times, then pour in the rest of the milk and vanilla.
  4. Let cool completely, then whip 1 cup of heavy cream until thick and fluffy and fold into the egg mixture until smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze overnight.
  6. Add the frozen custard cubes and the remaining 1 cup of cream to a food processor. Process until soft and smooth, roughly 30 seconds. Aim for a soft-serve consistency.
  7. Freeze for four more hours before serving.
  8. Enjoy, while shedding a tear for Andy’s.

To make chocolate custard: add ½ cup cocoa powder before step 3 and reduce the vanilla to 1 tsp.

IMITATION LATTE from Unicorn Cafe

Note: This recipe is adapted to use a French press in place of an espresso machine. A European-style Moka pot or an Aeropress would both make even better faux-espressos. If you have an actual espresso machine, lucky you!

  • 16 teaspoons ground coffee (should be around the texture of kosher salt; the fresher the better)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Milk of choice
  • French press
  1. Measure 6 teaspoons of coffee into a small French press and fill with the cup of boiling water. Stir well.
  2. Let sit for 4 minutes, then slowly plunge down on the French press. Fill your mug around a third of the way with coffee.
  3. Wash out your French press and fill about half-full with milk.
  4. Microwave for 30 seconds (if your French press is made of metal, use a separate container to heat the milk, then pour it back into the press). Put the top on and gently plunge up and down for 30 seconds.
  5. Remove the top and swirl the milk around. Tap the press on the counter a few times to pop any large air bubbles.
  6. Gently pour the milk over the coffee, and do some fancy latte art if the spirit moves you.
  7. Enjoy with a café soundtrack in the background, while pretending to study.