10 Hottest Restaurants, Bar & Breweries in Evanston

By Sarah Freeman  |  August 25, 2014

Step across the northern border of Chicago and you'll find yourself in Evanston, a college town that hasn't been known for its culinary scene until recently, when a new wave of chefs arrived to boost its culinary cred. And though it was once a dry city, now even its beer scene is gaining ground. Read on to to find out some essential spots to hit while you're there. 

  • Boltwood

    Former Publican chef Brian Huston elevates American fare with an emphasis on local produce and quality ingredients. This sleek restaurant, with a long communal table running parallel to the open kitchen, features an ever-changing menu of seasonal vegetables and flavorful meat preparations. Fair warning: the dining room can be noisy.

    Must-Order: Brick chicken with roasted peperonata.

    804 Davis St., Evanston; 847-859-2880

  • Farmhouse

    The Evanston outpost of the River North tavern takes the same approach to Midwestern fare. Reclaimed barn doors, rainbow birdfeeders and a restored beer fridge from the 1920s decorate the wildly popular restaurant. Skip the house burger, served on a dough-y potato roll; instead, opt for cider-brined pork loin or roasted Amish chicken.

    Must-Order: Beer or cider – the bar has one of the best lists in the city.

    703 Church St., Evanston; 847-492-9700

  • Found Kitchen & Social House

    This quaint restaurant, reminiscent of your cool friend's living room, features mismatched furniture and exposed-brick walls covered in an antiques-fair’s worth of paintings. The menu features options likes a plate of harissa-roasted sweet corn and twice-fried chicken wings.

    Must-Order: Lamb meatballs with pistachio chimichurri and yogurt sauce.

    1631 Chicago Ave., Evanston; 847-868-8945

  • Hoosier Mama Pie Company

    Two Chicago staples come together in one airy cafe. Enjoy Hoosier Mama Pie — sweet apple and blueberry to savory chicken tomatillo — alongside Dollop Coffee. The airy cafe with floor-to-ceiling windows doubles as a bakery and also offers pie flights after 6 PM for post-dinner dessert seekers.

    Must-Order: Apple-blueberry pie with oat crumble.

    749 Chicago Ave., Evanston; 847-868-8863

  • La Macchina

    Part coffee shop and part Italian restaurant, this year-old establishment takes its motorcycle theme seriously with vintage bikes and photographs of hogs. During the day, espresso and pastries are on the menu, and at night a selection of carpaccio, pasta and other Italian fare takes over.

    Must-Order: Frito misto.

    1620 Orrington Ave., Evanston; 847-425-1080

  • Peckish Pig

    Start your meal at this restaurant and microbrewer with spent-grain bread made by Hewn Bakery with the grain left over from the brewing process. Continue your meal with the likes of slow-roasted pork belly with Kerrygold mashed potatoes and beer mussels with housemade bacon. And, of course, work your way through the ever-changing selection of beer on tap. Bonus: it's about to open a new patio.

    Must-Order: Warm spent-grain bread with Kerrygold butter.

    623 Howard St., Evanston; 847-491-6778

  • Smylie Brothers Brewing Co.

    Located in an unassuming residential area, this two-story beer and BBQ hall features nosh like pale-ale pretzels and 14-hour smoked brisket alongside beers such as Purple Line Bavarian wheat brewed with hibiscus, blueberry and blackberry.

    Must-Order: Spoon bread with truffle honey butter.

    1615 Oak Ave., Evanston; 224-999-7320

  • Union Pizzeria

    The glow of Edison bulbs beckons diners from the street into this comfortable pizzeria that has become a favorite of locals over the past five years. Wood-oven pizzas topped with wild mushrooms, béchamel, Fontina and sage or sausage, sweet pepper, onion and Sicilian oregano are the stars of the menu alongside antipasti and an extensive beer list.

    Must-Order: Lamb sausage pizza with eggplant, Gaeta olives and rosemary.

    1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston; 847-475-2400

  • Temperance Beer Company

    This place has it all — a brewery, a taproom, an outdoor patio accessible through garage doors, bags and shuffleboard. Sample year-round brews like Gatecrasher and English IPA, as well as seasonal brews such as Greenwood Beach, a blond ale brewed with pineapple.

    Must-Order: Restless Years — a rye pale ale.

    2000 Dempster St., Evanston; 847-864-1000

  • Ward 8

    “Where can I get a good drink around here?” The answer is this cool cocktail lounge opened by a couple of Chicago bartender vets. Specializing in the classics, from Hemingway daiquiri to old fashioned, with gourmet bar bites such as flatbread with farmer's cheese, spiced apples and arugula.

    Must-Order: Lion's Tail — bourbon, allspice, lime and bitters.

    629 W. Howard St., Evanston; 847-420-7353