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Aug 1, 2012 02:31 PM

Dinner suggestions - Evanston to Downtown

My wife & I will be visiting our son at Northwestern in October and we need help with restaurant suggestions. I have read many posts on this board, but am having a hard time since there are so many options. I am familiar with the Evanston choices, but we don't mind driving or using public transportation. It seems as though the neighborhoods north of downtown are closer, but I am seeking soem assistance with recommendations. We are foodies and enjoy italian, latin, cuban, mexican, chinese or asian, mediterranean, and of course American. Pricewise, I am thinking no higher than $40/person before drinks & dessert. Of course, anything under that would be fine as well. I tried the Frontera Grill, but not available. I have read about Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatrown and was wondering how spicy it is, as in more than your typical sichuan restaurant?

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  1. North Side of Chicago:
    Great Lake or Spacca Napoli for thin-crust pizza
    Sol de Mexico for terrific mole dishes
    Argyle Street for Vietnamese: Banh mi at Ba Le and anything at Nha Hang Viet Nam
    Cafe Orchid for Turkish
    Aroy Thai or TAC Quick for Thai
    Northern Suburbs:
    Libertad in Skokie for Latin
    Pita Inn in Skokie for Middle Eastern at a great price
    Avli Estiatoro in Winnetka for Greek
    Psistaria in Lincolnwood for Greek
    Al's Deli for soup and sandwich
    Evanston Chicken Shack for fried chicken (call ahead)

    1. Wow, there are so very many places from the Loop to Evanston, in many many neighborhoods, that it's hard to narrow it all down to just a few. But I'll try.

      Since you're interested in creative Mexican (Frontera Grill), I recommend Mixteco Grill in Lakeview. Mexique in West Town is another excellent choice.

      For Italian, I think Piccolo Sogno is about the best moderately-priced Italian out there right now. (I have not yet been to their new place, Piccolo Sogno Due.) Evanston has an excellent choice - Campagnola, which styles itself as Italian but has a lot in common with American bistros. (Best bread pudding EVER!)

      Some of the very best meals I've had in the past few years have been at several places that are extremely affordable. One is Deleece on Southport, a casual American bistro in Lakeview. The other is Sable, in River North; they specialize in "small plates" of creative American cuisine, as well as artisanal cocktails. And I've enjoyed GT Fish a lot every time I've been there; they feature seafood in a "small plates" format.

      All of the places I've mentioned here accept reservations over the phone; all but Campagnola and Mixteco Grill also accept them on They should all come in around your targeted budget level too.

      There are many, many more restaurants that are pretty good, but if I had to name just a handful that I've found so thoroughly and consistently outstanding that I keep returning to them over and over, these are the ones I'd concentrate on.