From coffee shops and restaurants to parks and local stores, The Daily’s 2020 guide to the best places in Evanston is finally here.

Based on your nominations and votes, we compiled The Daily’s eighth annual Best of Evanston. Scroll to see who won.

Best Restaurant, Best Local Shop, Best Comfort Food and Best Take-Out:

Tomate Fresh Kitchen

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Tomate Fresh Kitchen — a proven Best of Evanston fan-favorite — blew its competition out of the water this year.

The Guatemalan-inspired restaurant has been an Evanston staple since 2013 when owner and chef Tania Merlos-Ruiz decided to open a brick-and-mortar version of her farmer’s market stand. Located at 914 Noyes St., with no seating and early closing times, Tomate has cemented its popularity through its freshly-made burritos, tacos and empanadas.

With lines wrapping around the corner on game days and dozens of take-out orders on the regular, it comes as no surprise that Tomate’s gourmet street food has won the hearts of Northwestern students and Evanston residents alike. The restaurant’s use of fresh, locally sourced vegetables and unique takes on Latin American cuisine are what keep customers coming back.

Tomate’s limited menu is the secret to its success. With multiple iterations of pork and beef dishes, and extensive vegetarian options that hit the spot, you’ll find yourself ordering a sweet potato burrito every time you open DoorDash.

Merlos-Ruiz said Tomate’s success in this year’s Best of Evanston is “truly an honor,” and hopes her restaurant will continue to provide for the local community to the best of their abilities. She recommends newcomers try the carnitas, a Mexican dish featuring slow-cooked pulled pork. Merlos-Ruiz said the dish has been surging in popularity this year.

– Isabelle Sarraf

Best place to people watch:

Norris University Center

Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

There’s no place better to people watch than Norris University Center.

On the first floor, you can stop by Norbucks and take a look at the different characters. You’ll see the hyper-focused pre-med who keeps her eyes fixed on her chemistry textbook, with one hand firmly on her Hydro Flask just so she can make sure it's still there. There’s also the obligatory procrastinator, who takes up an entire table with notes, a pencil case and tablets even though he sits back and browses Instagram. What about those strange, turquoise, three-walled booths tucked against the wall by the fireplace? Though they look more like porta-potties than spheres of study, they’re a good place to cry; nobody will notice you.

In contrast, on the ground floor, Norris attracts the main event: the old people. We are not sure where they come from, who they are or why they are there. For now, the Northwestern community has considered them an anthropological mystery. As you watch these mysterious geriatrics gawk and stare, you are both delighted and creeped out by their amazement with how you exemplify the "college life." Just don't make eye contact.

To whomever you are watching, and to whoever is watching you, here's a cheers to people watching in Norris.

- Jason Beeferman

Best liquor store:

D&D’s Finer Foods

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

To some, D&D Finer Foods may just be a glorified convenience store. And sure, inside you’ll find your traditional selection of fatty snacks and produce that might not be Whole Foods-quality. The shop itself, while charming, may even look to be long overdue for a renovation. But give D&Ds a longer visit, and the 46-year-old Evanston staple will reveal itself to be so much more. Between the rows of processed goods, you’ll notice glimmers of the store’s true character.

It takes practically no time inside D&Ds to realize that the store boasts a fantastic selection of liquor and an above average selection of wine. When it comes to beer, you’ll have trouble finding a label they don’t carry, and the shop’s owners are even open to suggestions from customers for new offerings. They also try to showcase local breweries and businesses as much as possible, including Pipeworks, 3 Floyds, Sketchbook and Temperance Brewing Co.

Aside from the beverages, the store’s unique food offerings — often displaying the owners’ Greek heritage — are not to be missed. Stacked at the ends of most aisles and registers, you’ll find small containers of house-made goodies, including baklava, banana bread, muffins, cakes and other pastries. You’ll also encounter several different kinds of Greek candies, clearly marked as such with a distinct lack of English on the wrappers. Coolers at the front of shop contain specialities that you’ll seldom find at most other grocery stores, such as tzatziki, cured olives and spiced feta dip.

My favorite part of D&Ds is the back left corner of the store, a bar containing prepared foods, deli meats and possibly their most signature offering: made-to-order sandwiches. For $8.99 a piece, you get your option of several different hot sandwiches and a side of chips, often fit for dinner and maybe leftovers, too. When you’re ready to go on with your day, most every check-out clerk will chat your ear off, making you glad you didn’t settle for shopping at your favorite big-box chain.

Voters may see D&Ds as Evanston’s best liquor store — and that’s true — but it’s also a little bit of everything. To me, at least, it fits no category: D&Ds is whatever you want it to be.

– Zach Blank

Best bookstore:

Bookends and Beginnings

Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

When it comes to bookstores, sometimes smaller is better.

For the fourth year in a row, Bookends and Beginnings has beaten Barnes & Noble for Best of Evanston’s slot as the best bookstore. It’s a triumph for independent bookstores everywhere. First opened in 2014, proud Medill alum Nina Barrett’s bookstore is a hidden gem of Evanston, tucked in an alleyway behind Sherman Avenue. Even though you have to search it out, the rewards of paying a visit are endless.

What the store lacks in size, it makes up for in atmosphere and the quality of its selections. The store is charmingly decorated, with fairy lights and scented candles to create a soothing atmosphere. It’s perfect for cozying up with a book. It has cheap used books you can pick up for a steal, typically five dollars or less. Bookends also features a small but lovely kids section, where you can indulge your inner five-year old and sit down to read a charming picture book. The store is well-curated, too, mixing new selections with old classics.

This quarter, I’ve bought three books from Bookends. Every time I’ve stopped by, the store had exactly what I was looking for, and the booksellers who checked me out had further recommendations. This human connection is something I never experienced in my visits to Barnes and Nobles. In a world of commercial Amazon bookstores, a place as special and as personal as Bookends is worth cherishing.

– Wilson Chapman

Best place for NU gear:

Campus Gear

Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

It’s parents’ weekend and your mom is looking for a pair of purple plaid pajamas to wear when she misses you. It’s gameday tomorrow and you’ve run out of fun sunglasses to wear to your sub-zero tailgate.You missed out on the free crewnecks at the last basketball game but still want to rock something purple to your 9 a.m. You — much like myself — owe your best friend back home a “Northwestern Dad” sweatshirt in exchange for something similar from their bookstore.

Luckily, a maze of floor-to-ceiling shelves screaming school spirit awaits you at Campus Gear at 1722 Sherman Ave. Dethroning nearby rival and last year’s winner, Beck’s Bookstore, Campus Gear offers everything from lanyards, to pajama sets, to little plush Wildcats wearing their own tiny Northwestern tees. You can buy specific items repping different undergraduate schools or sports. There’s even a section of gear that reps Northwestern and another school’s team colors, like a half NU half Michigan baseball cap. Such items are great to turn to if someone in your life still wants to keep up the ruse that you’re not the favorite sibling, no matter whose team is visiting Ryan Field.

The prices of goods are reasonable. You can shop online or in person, and joining Campus Gear’s rewards program lets you pick up stars, which you can claim to knock $5 or $10 off your next need for retail therapy.

Say “hi” to the friendly staff at the counter and let yourself get lost in a haze of clever merchandise for a little while. Maybe you don’t need that Northwestern-branded golf ball, umbrella, corkscrew, hair bow, laptop sleeve or candlestick. But it’s always nice to know that if you wanted to redo your entire apartment and wardrobe to fit the Purple Pride theme, Campus Gear is there.

– Ilana Arougheti

Best grocery store:

Trader Joe’s

Zoe Malin/Daily Senior Staffer

Cauliflower gnocchi. Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning. Cookie Butter. There’s only one place that sells such illustrious products: Trader Joe’s.

Located in Evanston’s Main-Dempster Mile, this market has been declared the city’s best grocery store. It beat Whole Foods Market, Jewel-Osco and Target for the title, proving to have the most dedicated fanbase.

Trader Joe’s is loved for its affordable prices and fresh goods. It also has tasty gluten-free and plant-based options, which are often hard to come by. In one trip, someone could score gluten-free bagels and non-dairy oat beverages.

The store’s shelves are almost entirely lined with Trader Joe’s private label products. They develop a cult following the second they’re released and become staples in people’s diets. For example, customers flocked to their local TJ’s when kale gnocchi hit the frozen aisle, clutching their reusable bags on a mission to stock up on the essential ingredient. Ever since, food media has reviewed the product, bloggers have posted about it on Insand some stores even saw occasional shortages.

Arguably the best time of year at Trader Joe’s is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The store rolls out all the stops, infusing products with signature flavors. During the fall, Apple Cider Cookies and Pumpkin Butter are hot. Then, as the snow begins to fall, Candy Cane Joe-Joe's takeover. Pros know to stock up on these seasonal items and stash them away for when a peppermint craving hits months later.

- Zoe Malin

Best clothing store:

Urban Outfitters

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Oh, Urban. It’s almost beautifully predictable. Champion hoodies, Calvin Klein bralettes and tight crop tops we’ve all worn in frat basements line the racks year-round. It’s a safe haven for chunky Fila-wearing folks, a place where you walk in and know exactly what you’re getting.

But with this predictability comes familiarity. With dozens of locations across the country, Urban Outfitters has found its way into many students’ suburban hometowns and Facebook feeds. For me, stepping into the one on 921 Church St. brings back memories of shopping with my middle school friends on Fridays after school.

Its offerings — Fujifilm polaroid cameras, graphic tees and inflatable pool floats —have all stood the test of time. So has the store’s appeal. You might have left behind the chapter in your life when you pined over PopSockets, but should you ever need one, you can easily grab it at the store. It’s just a short walk from campus, so pick up a dress for formal while you’re at it.

Pricing for in-season clothing can be on the higher side, but scaling the curved staircase leading to the upper level will introduce you to the wonders of the sale rack. There, you can find jeans, dresses and tops at discounted prices, taking away some of the guilt from buying yet another skirt you definitely don’t need.

That’s the true beauty of Urban: versatility. You can walk away with cute apartment decor, some new skincare or a book telling unfortunate truths about your star sign. While the products are predictable, the possibilities are endless.

– Andrea Bian

Best dessert and Best wildcat discount:

Andy's Frozen Custard

Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

It’s 9 o’clock on a Sunday night. You’ve had a long day filled with club meetings back-to-back, and you still haven’t finished your response paper due tomorrow. On top of all that, you may still be a little hungover from last night. Just then, a text comes through in the group chat: “Anyone in the mood for… a sweet treat?”

Whether you’re feeling something chocolate and cherry-sweet or vanilla and creamy, Andy’s Frozen Custard has something customizable for every member of the squad. At 719 Church St., the shop has been beleaguered by rumors that it’s closing in recent months. But, there’s a reason it won best dessert for the sixth year in a row: it’s simply the best.

As a New Jersey native, I was at first confused by the concept of Andy’s concrete. Is it ice cream, or frozen yogurt, or both? It’s actually something completely unique: your favorite fruit, candy, nuts and syrups blended with thick, homemade custard.

The menu doesn’t stop there — the shop offers floats, shakes, sodas and even Italian ice options. Plus, if you’re feeling especially saucy, you can try Andy’s seasonal treats, which mix holiday favorites like pumpkin and apple pie with custard.

While all those extra toppings can get a bit pricey — concretes can start at about $5 or $6 — the Wildcat discount makes it all worth it. Stop by the next time your day feels overwhelming and let the hypnotic custard-maker lull you into sugary relaxation.

– Charlotte Walsh

Best Salon:

Art + Science

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

As the name aptly suggests, doing hair is both creative and technical. Art + Science prides itself on not only serving patrons beautiful do’s, but also educating stylists on the science behind hair. The salon’s website states, “Hair is our passion. Education is our mission.” It certainly follows through with its motto, requiring every stylist to complete rigorous training.

The dedication to education has certainly paid off; Art + Science is a Chicago staple and regular on the Best of Evanston list. The salon was founded in Evanston in 1989 and has since expanded to four locations throughout Chicago. Founders David Raccuglia and Paul Wilson have achieved individual notoriety, too. Wilson is featured in hair shows across the world and Raccuglia photographs cultural icons like Yoko Ono and Ray Charles.

But the prestige isn’t what continuously brings Evanstonians back. The stylists have their fingers on the pulse of the beauty and fashion world. They can turn your drab shoulder length mess into a chic blunt bob.

Additionally, the colorists never fail to wow. As an artificial blonde, I personally know the havoc a bad colorist can wreak and the joy a skilled colorist can bring. Let me just say that while many a colorist has brought me to tears, I have never once experienced an orangey blonde meltdown or disaster in the hands of an Art + Science colorist.

With prestige, social clout and a wildcard discount, Art + Science remains the pick for Evanston’s best salon.

– Isabelle Kenagy

Best coffee shop:

Colectivo Coffee

Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

If you’ve ever been to Colectivo Coffee, you know the scene:

It’s so popular that it’s often difficult to find somewhere to sit. The weekends and select week nights are peak hours, flooding every inch of the space. Even so, people are willing to stand or wait, set on spending an afternoon in Evanston’s best coffee shop. This title is one Colectivo has now won for the second year in a row.

Located three blocks from Northwestern’s campus on the corner of Church Street and Sherman Avenue, Colectivo Coffee grew popular among students and residents shortly after its arrival to Evanston in fall 2018. With its wooden furniture, calming music and ample natural light, it provides a convenient alternative to studying in libraries for students who don’t mind background noise.

Colectivo was founded in Milwaukee in 1993. The founders began roasting each batch of coffee beans by hand to create the company’s signature coffee. Today, Colectivo’s menu goes far beyond a cup of joe, and specialty drinks are extremely popular. While some are on the pricier side, some specialty beverages are served with foam designs in ceramic mugs, giving them an appeal that’s worth the price. My personal favorite drinks are the Windy Ci-tea, the earl grey tea latte and the salted caramel latte.

Colectivo has made-from-scratch baked goods that are also loved. The shop’s breakfast menu is offered all day, so customers are free to enjoy breakfast burritos even at 8:30 p.m. If you’re in the mood for a beer, there’s no need to walk to the nearest bar; Colectivo offers its own selection of craft brews.

With so many high-quality food and drink options and a pleasant atmosphere, it makes sense that Colectivo is usually overflowing. It’s no wonder that it took the number one spot for Evanston’s best coffee shop once again.

– Emily Sakai

Best bite for your buck:

Joy Yee Noodle

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Sometimes all college students need are meals with large portions at low prices. Add in the element of fast service, and we’re sold.

Stationed on Davis Street, Joy Yee Noodle was voted Best Bite for your Buck this year. It offers customers a casual Pan-Asian dining experience at affordable prices.

The menu is as difficult to hold as it is to navigate, attributable to the many dishes available. There are more bubble tea options than one can likely try, and more Asian foods than most have heard of.

The extensive bubble tea flavors and toppings, ranging from tapioca to lychee jelly, satisfy those with even the most adventurous appetites. Joy Yee also offers an expansive menu of entrees inspired by a variety of Asian cultures, such as the kimchi seafood stir-fry udon.

Not sure what to order? Don’t fret! Order a few entrees and the servers can bring you extra plates to share with friends. There are also a number of options for vegetarians and vegans.

Whether you are stopping in to grab bubble tea, or hoping to order a filling dish, Joy Yee delivers for those with eclectic tastes. But all talk is naught unless you taste for yourself.

To all you college students on a budget, go indulge yourself in a way that won’t make you go broke.

– Yonjoo Seo

Best place for dinner with the family:


David Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Farmhouse Evanston is unbeatable.

For the fifth year in a row, the Evanston staple, 703 Church St., has been named the Best Place for Dinner With the Family, and there’s a good reason for that. Whether your parents are coming in for family weekend, or stopping by during the week seven slump, the restaurant provides a little slice of Midwestern warmth to break up the inevitable stress that comes with being a Northwestern student.

The American-style menu boasts dinner entrees from $15.50 to $31.50. The price of an entree is likely just outside your student budget, but right within the range that you can convince your parents to treat you to something nicer than dining hall food.

After a quarter spent subsiding on Sargent’s grilled chicken, with the only bright spot light being Allison’s oatmeal raisin cookies, Farmhouse is the best place for your parents to air their grievances about your grades, or the fact that you keep forgetting to respond to your mother’s texts. And, as it’s located right next to the Hilton Orrington and only a five minute walk off South Campus, it’s convenient for everyone. That is, unless you live up north. That’s a bigger issue to contend with.

Whether you’re Evanston born and raised, or your parents are flying in from California, the restaurant’s warm lighting and earthy decor can make anyone feel at home. It actually makes exposed brick feel appealing, not depressing — Norris, I’m looking at you — creating the ideal environment for a dinner where you hopefully don’t get asked what you did last weekend.

It seems like almost everyone on campus has taken their parents to Farmhouse at some point. After five years of winning, maybe it’s time you take your parents as well.

– Jacob Fulton

Best vegetarian:

Blind Faith Cafe

Lauren Duquette/The Daily Northwestern

Blind Faith Cafe is back on top as this year’s best vegetarian restaurant, and it makes sense why. Located on Dempster Street, the eatery has three meat-free menus with a multitude of vegetarian and vegan items available.

While the dining hall’s cooked vegetables, salad bar and fries are tempting for those who steer clear of meat, Blind Faith Cafe is tremendously more appetizing. It makes many meaty meals vegetarian or vegan, but never compromises taste. Perhaps you’re in the mood for a burger, maybe you’re looking for a rice bowl, or even a burrito. Whatever your craving, the restaurant has you covered.

Blind Faith Cafe serves dishes from several cuisines, too. You can order Huevos Rancheros for breakfast, dolma as an appetizer and Thai Peanut Noodles as an entree. Who could forget the most important part of the meal? Dessert. Blind Faith Cafe helps you hit that sweet spot, offering a decadent vegan chocolate cake among other options.

While this winner isn’t in the immediate downtown area — it’s located in The Main-Dempster Mile — students don’t have to leave campus to get the goods. The restaurant delivers on its own, through DoorDash and using UberEats.

Blind Faith Cafe tends to be on the pricier side, but it still earned its top rank. Whether it be for a long-awaited dinner out or a plant-based Sunday brunch, Blind Faith Cafe offers something for everyone.

– Delaney Nelson

Best sandwich

Bat 17

Evan Robinson-Johnson/The Daily Northwestern

It’s 9 p.m. on a Tuesday in Norris University Center, and you’ve been in the zone grinding out a paper for hours. You look up after writing the last sentence and realize you’re starving.

Sure, you could play it healthy and try to get a salad, or you could get a quick bite in Norris. But you just wrote an entire paper, and you want something more. You want a 10 oz. burger with nacho cheese sauce, jalapeños and tortilla strips or a hot dog wrapped in bacon. No — you earned that hot dog wrapped in bacon. You work hard, damn it, and you deserve Evanston’s best sandwich.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Who cares when it tastes this good, because for the fifth year in a row, Bat 17 has earned this accolade. With a 12-page menu full of sandwiches, it’s not hard to see why.

There’s a Bat 17 sandwich for every situation. Just woke up from your post-Dillo nap? Try their fried chicken & biscuit sliders, smothered in cheddar cheese and slathered in maple syrup to soak up your hangover. Feeling lazy on a Sunday morning? Grab a Voodoo Sandwich, layered with smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato and red onion on pumpernickel. Inviting some friends to watch football? Head to the restaurant — a temple to Northwestern sports — and order the Double Deuce, a sandwich jam-packed with corned beef, pastrami, mustard, and both Swiss and muenster cheeses.

Bat 17 sources their ingredients locally, getting bread from Bennison’s Bakery and deli meats from Chicago’s Kelly Eisenberg Gourmet Deli Products. Whatever the context, you can taste the quality in the sandwiches.

So, head down to 1709 Benson Ave. to get a sandwich. You deserve it.

- Gabby Birenbaum

Best bar:

Celtic Knot Public House

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

On a dark and stormy night in April of 2019, my mother dragged a young, impressionable, visiting student to a suspicious looking pub. Spoiler: it was me. Said student was greeted by a warm hostess and an even warmer chicken pot pie. A guitarist strummed about a lost love, my mother ordered a beer, and suddenly a high school senior knew that Northwestern was the place for her.

You got me; that's not exactly what happened. At 626 Church St., Celtic Knot Public House was not the deciding factor in my choosing a college, but it was my first culinary experience in Evanston. The homey vibe certainly did ease some of my pre-college worries.

This homey vibe is Celtic Knot’s trademark. Fit for a casual dinner with the parents, a couple of pre-grame brews or late-night drunchies, Celtic Knot really is there for you no matter what. The reasonable prices and extensive beer list will care for you whether you are celebrating or drinking your sorrows away. Unlike other bars with dodgy bouncers or unreliable tap options, The Knot will never let you down.

Even better, the place is hospitable and respectable. While “best bar” may imply a rowdy atmosphere with questionable hygiene, Celtic Knot is a place you don’t mind seeing when the lights are on. But that doesn’t mean you won’t see NU students occasionally getting Knotty.

With live music on the weekends, a cozy atmosphere, and a menu that puts all other bars to shame, The Knot remains Evanston’s choice for best bar.

– Isabelle Kenagy

Best Norris eatery:

MOD Pizza

Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

MOD Pizza’s oven is certainly the reason why Norris University Center’s ground floor smells like mozzarella cheese. Truthfully, who can complain?

The Seattle-based chain, which replaced the beloved thin crust joint, The Kiln, in 2018, was crowned this year’s best Norris eatery as well. The restaurant’s snaking line is a testament to its popularity among students seeking fast-casual alternatives to dining hall cuisine.

Tucked in a corner on the ground floor, MOD serves up personal pizza and salads, as well as breadsticks and dessert. Part of the chain’s allure is its thrift: a meal swipe is all it takes to unlock the best bang-for-your-buck meal exchange, a personal pizza or a build-your-own salad with bottled water. For those not on Northwestern’s meal plan, a 11-inch personal pizza is only a $8.87 bill.

The white plastic chairs and round tables scream poolside dining, but that’s all part of the charm. Plastered across the wood-panelled exterior in block letters, the slogan — “SUPERFAST PIZZA & SALAD”— reminds customers that MOD is not made for fine dining, but primal scarfing. The chain is an enthusiastic fine, but there’s a reason Lou Malanti’s is a parents weekend treat.

Something special, though, makes Asiana, Wildcat Deli and Patty Squared no match for MOD. I think it’s this: in the land of personal pizza toppings, the limit does not exist at MOD. Load barbeque sauce, black olives, pineapple, pepperoni and diced tomatoes on Northwestern’s finest ‘za and call the “artisan-style” dish a five-topping-wonder.

– Eva Herscowitz

Best burger:

Edzo's Burger Shop

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Those who’ve stepped through the door to Edzo’s Burger Shop know what lies within: juicy patties, toasted buns and indulgent toppings. Customers can choose from ordering a modest single-patty burger, a monstrous barbeque bacon cheddar burger, or something in between. Either way, this small eatery delivers big flavors.

Edzo’s has a variety of burgers on its menu, in addition to hand-cut fries, sandwiches, hot dogs and sides like beer battered cheese curds. One of the most elaborate burgers offered is the Double-Double Animal-Style burger. This dish features layers of American cheese, grilled onions, special sauce, pickles, lettuce and tomato on top of two 2-oz mustard-grilled beef patties.

While Edzo’s caters heavily towards meat-eaters, it has plant-based options, too. Vegetarian and vegan customers will be happy to know that veggie burgers, the Beyond Burger and a Portobello mushroom burger are available.

Edzo’s is open Tuesday through Sunday. Food can be ordered online for pickup, and the eatery delivers through services like Grubhub, too.

– Zoe Malin

Best drunchies:

Burger King

Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

We’ve all been there: you just left a terrible frat party and you feel sorry for yourself because you failed to hook up with your crush from Intro to Russian Lit. You need sustenance to quell your drunkness and your sadness, but Fran’s Café is closing earlier and earlier everyday, and Taco Bell has gone gentle into the good night. What’s a tipsy college kid to do?

You head to Burger King, the undisputed hotspot of drunk Northwestern life, and the winner of Best of Evanston’s Best Drunchies category for the second year in a row. While its status as the one 24-hour dining establishment in Evanston has vanished this quarter — it will now be closing around 2 a.m. most days — it’s still one of the very few places open in the early morning. It’s a go-to place when you need to get your munch on under the influence.

Is the food great? Not particularly, but when you’re drunk, those chicken nuggets hit just right. Is the service good? No, most of the employees are understandably very cranky; they have to serve a bunch of half-conscious college kids.

What makes Burger King the best place to go when you’re drunk and starving isn’t the food or the service, but the people. As you walk through those glass doors, you’re almost guaranteed to see someone you know, be it from your dorm or class. Such familiar faces were also led to BK through a series of terrible decisions they’ll regret in the morning.

In a dark, lonely campus, it’s hard to find a sense of solidarity stronger than the one that forms between you and a dozen other drunk kids munching on Burger King fries in Sunday’s wee morning hours. Very few rites of passage at Northwestern are more heartwarming, and none are more important.

– Wilson Chapman

Best sushi:


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

No matter how many inconsistencies you may have in your life, Todoroki will never be one. Loved by Evanston residents and Northwestern students alike, Todoroki never fails to serve delicious sushi and hibachi.

The esteemed restaurant is located at 526 Davis St. in Downtown Evanston. With three unique dining areas, customers can choose to eat in a special occasion, hibachi or main sushi room.

To satisfy a simple palette, the individual chicken entree and shrimp tempura roll will do the trick. The Koopa roll is one of Todoroki’s deluxe maki rolls and a bestseller. This roll fuses the flavors of salmon, tuna, yellowtail, ikura, crab and wasabi mayo.

If you ever just need a night-in, have no fear. Todoroki offers customers a carry-out special that consists of 3 different rolls, nigiri and appetizer combinations.

Aside from sushi and hibachi, Todoroki also offers a mix of entrees and sides ranging from steak tataki to fried calamari. Todoroki hosts sushi eating contests and the occasional sushi making class, too. It’s a versatile establishment with offerings for everyone.

– Gabrielle Rancifer

Best pizza:

Lou Malnati’s

Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

For most pizza connoisseurs in the Chicagoland area, the debate of Lou’s vs. Gio’s is one that sparks intense debate and fractures friendships.

Yet Blaze Pizza — an inferior outfit to the two — had won the E-Town title every year since its arrival before the 2016 award season.

But, like boxer Tyson Fury this weekend, the king has returned to its throne. Lou Malnati’s has been named Best Pizza in Evanston.

While it’s thin-crust pies are nothing to write home about to your father who grew up in the pizza mecca of America, its deep dish offerings are second to none. The cheese deep dish is the best of its kind in the area. The sauce and cheese compliment each other like Khalid and good vibes, and it tastes almost as good reheated as it does fresh out of the oven.

But maybe you like more than just cheese, and need a little spice in your life. Lou’s has plenty of options to fit your desires.

Look no further than the Chicago Classic, a delicious blend of Lou’s sausage and extra mozzarella cheese topped by their classic tomato sauce. One of the best pizzas in town, the Classic is finished off with Lou’s signature Buttercrust. Cooked to perfection, the pizza melts in your mouth with each bite.

Not a meat person? Then perhaps get a pizza so tasty, it’s named after our good friend Lou Malnati himself. Grab a slice of the Lou, a blend of three cheeses, a Spinach mix, mushrooms and tomatoes. Like the others, it’s an incredible blend of flavors, especially the Spinach mix that includes garlic, basil and onions.

So when your friend from home comes and wants some deep dish — because you know they always do — take them to 1850 Sherman Ave. and tell them Andrew and Peter sent you.

– Andrew Golden and Peter Warren

Best brunch

Ovo Frito Cafe

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

This year, the people have made history. After Cupitol winning last year, and Le Peep winning for four straight years before that, Ovo Frito Cafe broke into the fray, earning its first Best of Evanston title since opening in 2017.

Located at 1936 Maple Ave., Ovo Frito features a diverse range of options, satisfying whatever breakfast craving you may be feeling. They’ve got chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs or avocado toast. if you want a classic American-styled meal. But if you’re looking for something a little more unique, they also have a plethora of Latin-inspired dishes, like the chilaques or the molletes — a sandwich consisting of refried beans, chorizo, pico de gallo and chihuahua cheese.

Ovo Frito is great for any occasion. Last spring, I met nine others there to celebrate my friend’s birthday. Last fall, I brought my parents there over family weekend. Earlier this quarter, another friend and I felt bogged down by midterms, so we met there on a Wednesday morning to start our day off on a happier note.

The atmosphere alone is enough to brighten your day. With friendly staff, quick service and an always-full cup of coffee, you’ll have nothing less than a great food experience. Plus, the decorations match the “ovo” theme, which is Portuguese for “egg.” Paintings of eggs hang on the walls, and even the lamps dangling from the ceilings resemble eggs with their white, rounded, shell-like exterior and yellow, yolk-like light bulbs.

If you haven’t yet, take a walk over to Ovo Frito anytime between 7 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. any day of the week. Simply opening the door will bring a smile to your face.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated Le Peep won the category of "Best Brunch" for the past five years. Cupitol won the category last year, and Le Peep won for four years prior. The Daily regrets the error.

– Sophia Scanlan

Best new restaurant:

10Q Chicken

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Real ones know 10Q Chicken isn’t a new restaurant at all; it opened in August 2018 — and it literally won this same title last year. Anyone who calls themselves my friend should know about this place. If not, I’d question our relationship.

But somehow, there’s still people out there who’ve just recently learned of the hidden sanctuary at 816 Church St.

Stepping into the chicken lover’s paradise, turn left and you’re greeted by a full menu on the wall with everything from hearty bowls and sandwiches to mouth-watering tenders and wings. You’ll probably be joined by other visitors who pause by the entrance before ordering to ponder the delicious options.

My personal recommendation: the fire bowl. It’s a balanced mix of fresh greens, fluffy white rice and finely cooked grilled chicken with a spicy Korean chilli marinade. The best part? It’s a filling meal for only $7.99 — cheaper than many other Evanston and campus locales. Maybe you’re in the mood for something you can eat with your hands. The four crispy chicken sandwiches on the menu are browned to perfection and the panko-fried tenders will have you regretting you chose the two-piece over the four.

But like I said, none of this is new to me. Every single time I’ve taken a friend to 10Q, they’ve sung the restaurant’s praises even more than I do. Greatness isn’t always recognized immediately; sometimes, the best things take time to catch on.

If and when 10Q wins Best New Restaurant for a third time next year, know you’re not reading about an unproven enterprise, but are just late getting on the train to an impeccable dining experience.

– Troy Closson

In Memoriam

Budlong Hot Chicken

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Budlong Hot Chicken burned like a firefly: briefly and beautifully, before disappearing into the night forever. One of a plethora of new Norris University Center eateries opened during the 2018-19 academic year, Budlong ended up being the only one that failed to live past the initial redesign of the building’s ground floor. But during that time, it quickly established itself as the only eatery worth the hefty price tag.

MOD Pizza is a lackluster Blaze Pizza knock-off. Wildcat Deli is open once in a blue moon. Patty Squared’s fries are insults to potatoes. Asiana is consistently mediocre. Budlong, on the other hand, had the most delicious, juicy chicken tenders in all of Evanston, with options to customize the spiciness level to your heart’s content.

The large, well-salted fries were to die for, arguably the greatest achievement in Northwestern dining history. Some of my most cherished memories of sophomore year consist of sitting on the coaches in the third floor of Norris with a Budlong box in hand, splitting a large order of those delicious slices of heaven with other members of The Daily.

Budlong has since been shuttled out, and in its place is a rotating series of Chicago restaurants briefly setting up shop in the eatery’s old location. Some of these restaurants are quite good, and some are forgettable, but none will make half the impact Budlong had on this campus. More importantly, none will ever fill the hole Budlong’s demise left in my heart.

– Wilson Chapman

Market Fresh Books

Daily file photo by Jeffrey Wang

Dearest Market Fresh Books,

Our deepest apologies, for we have betrayed you. We, as students of Northwestern, take full responsibility for your demise. Despite our appreciation for small businesses and ample walls of weathered books, we cheated.

Just as Eve was tempted by Satan in the Garden of Eden, we too were tempted by the serpentine Jeff Bezos to purchase half-price books delivered directly to Plex. Never once did we buy a single book from you. How could we, knowing alternatives like Amazon Prime exist?

Now that we are confessing our disloyalty, you should know there is another crime to which we must admit. Instead of venturing down Church Street to your well-stocked shelves, we simply opened our computers for a quicker form of satisfaction. got the job done.

A lowly college town such as ours does not deserve a beacon of lime-green light like you. We will forever miss your ability to provide so much for so little—books by the pound was a brilliant business model and we were remiss to not take advantage of you more. Though the sun has set on your time in Evanston, we hope you may find a new home where you will be appreciated and loved the way we never could. You are forever in our hearts.

– Jordan Mangi and Emma Yarger

Best of Evanston Editor
Zoe Malin
Published on
Feb. 28, 2020
Digital Managing Editor
Heena Srivastava
Editor in Chief
Troy Closson
Published On
Feb. 28, 2020