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Jan 14, 2011 09:01 AM

Great Restaurants in Evanston, IL or Close By

I'm looking for good somewhat upscale restaurants in or nearby Evanston, IL for a couples' dinner out....any ideas are welcome!! Thanks.

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  1. Evanston has quite an assortment of upscale restaurants. Here are the best:

    Oceanique - The most upscale restaurant in Evanston. They emphasize seafood, but I've found that they also have some of the very best soups, sauces, and desserts you'll find anywhere. Can be a bit pricy.

    Chef's Station - Contemporary American cuisine in a casual, whimsical setting. The food is consistently excellent.

    Pete Miller's - The best steakhouse in Evanston, and they also have excellent seafood.

    Bistro Bordeaux - The best French bistro in Evanston.

    Campagnola - For Italian food in a bistro setting.

    Stained Glass - This restaurant is also a wine bar, serving contemporary American cuisine. It's very noisy, which may make it less suitable for a couples dinner out.

    I've been disappointed in Quince, and the revolving door chef situation at Pensiero Ristorante makes me leery.

    6 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Evanston has some of the best restaurants on the North Shore.

      Ditto on everything above EXCEPT Chef's Station and Stained Glass.

      We were at Chef's Station a couple weeks ago for the first time in several years and remembered why we hadn't been there in a while. We were terribly disappointed. Service was fine and friendly. It was a Saturday night and we were one of only two tables there. One member of our party was served under-cooked fish. The rest of us were totally underwhelmed. Prices were those I would expect for very good food downtown, but we didn't get that. It was my recommendation to the other couple and I apologized after the fact. Sorry to say, but we would not ever return.

      Stained Glass kind of falls into the same category for me. The restaurant's promise and ambitions, IMO, far exceed what they deliver. At least when I've eaten there. Wine flights are nice, but SG is also on our never-again list.

      I'm interested in in how Pensiero is doing now that it has changed management. Love to hear other people's experiences.

      1. re: chicgail

        Thank you - great suggestions, and appreciate the time you took to give detail. Will avoid those two, but the others sound great!

        1. re: chicgail

          I've eaten at Chef's Station numerous times over the years - maybe 2-3 times a year, with the most recent visit last month. It has always been consistently excellent, including my latest visit. It remains one of my two favorites in Evanston, along with the considerably more expensive Oceanique. And that's based on lots and lots of visits (at least a dozen, maybe two), rather than a single isolated bad experience.

          I hadn't been to the Stained Glass in quite a while until I ate there this past November. There too, the food was very good. I loved the foie gras BLT! Again, though, it was quite crowded and noisy (it was a Saturday night).

          As you can see, both of these were recent visits. Also I should mention that I am not known as a "regular" in either place so I don't think I was getting any special treatment.

          The problem with Pensiero is not the change in management before they re-opened in September; the problem is that the management has gone through a procession of head chefs, and are now on their fourth since re-opening.

          Oceanique has always been excellent, and they often have specials that make it a bit less pricey than otherwise. They are participating in the "Chicago Originals Restaurant Week" January 17 through February 6 and as part of this promotion will be featuring a four-course $29.11 menu, which is a great bargain for them. You can see it at

          1. re: nsxtasy

            nsxtasy, as you know we agree on many things, but we certainly have different experiences at some very specific restaurants. While I know people, like you, who like one or the other, but I stand by my experience. I would never recommend either Stained Glass or Chef's Station to a friend or relative.

            With so many other good choices in Evanston, I suggest that kkumer choose something else. Top of my list would be either Campagnola or Bistro Bordeaux.

            815 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60202

            Bistro Bordeaux
            618 Church Street, Evanston, IL 60201

            1. re: chicgail

              Campagnola and Bistro Bordeaux are fine choices IF you're looking for Italian food or French bistro food, although Bistro Bordeaux can be quite noisy so it may not be best for a couples dinner. For contemporary American cuisine (and the best food in Evanston), I'd put Oceanique at the top of the list.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                For what it is worth, my wife and I have eaten at Stained Glass many times and we LOVE their food and service. We always recommend it to friends and have never received one complaint. We have gone there with foodies and have hosted special dinners there and again, we have never heard one complaint about any course whatsoever. And the numerous and excellent wine flights are a real treat. I will not hesitate to recommend Stained Glass to anyone. And they offer excellent values with fix pris menus. Don

                The Stained Glass
                1735 Benson Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201