Counter Culture

Evanston is a town of many restaurants—200 give or take—and we take our food pretty seriously here.

Unlike other North Shore suburbs, we have a tremendous amount of foot traffic and lots of public transportation, not to mention a vast and hungry horde of high school and college students.  So while there are many excellent full-service restaurants in town, there is also a large and varied array of counter-service-only options.

Running to catch a movie or a train? Here are a few spots where you can reliably be in and out in under a half hour without resorting to chain restaurants, fast food … or breaking the budget. Much like Evanston, they’re a pretty diverse bunch.


This quirky and delicious bakery serves great breakfast and lunch fare as well.

Especially calorie-worthy: Breakfast Burrito with Salsa Cruda; Caprese Sandwich with Fresh Mozz, Tomatoes, Basil and Olive Tapenade on a Seedy Baguette; Arugula Salad with Roasted Grapes, Goat Cheese and Spiced Walnuts; Salted Caramel/Dark Chocolate Cupcakes; Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.


Counter service only as of Nov. 1, this Italian favorite scores big with the “Holy P Trinity”: pizzas, pastas and paninis.

Especially calorie-worthy: Cavatelli in Creamy Tomato Vodka Sauce, Modena Chicken Panini (with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Artichokes, Gorgonzola and Balsamic Syrup), Meatball or Chicken Parm Sandwich, pretty much any pizza.


Really fresh and yummy Mediterranean cuisine, made to order. Their sandwiches are rolled in a thin Lebanese-style pita. Pass the tahini!

Especially calorie-worthy: Chicken Fattoush Salad, Steak in a Sack, Kifta Kabob or Falafel Sandwich, Lamb Shish Kabob Plate, Rice Pudding.

Old Neighborhood Grill

Classic Chicago Greek diner food without the table service or attitude. These guys are super friendly and accommodating.

Especially calorie-worthy: Gyros, Chicken-Ke-Bob, Greek Salad with Gyros, Spanakopita (Spinach and Feta Pie), Feta Cheese Fries.

Sashimi Sashimi

Constantly beset by NU students, this little sushi gem offers thick and fruity Kajitsu (bubble teas), sushi made fresh to order and many vegetarian maki options.

Especially calorie-worthy: Mango or Coconut-Pineapple Kajitsu with Tapioca Pearls, Sumo Godzilla Maki, Caterpillar Roll, Boston Maki with Fresh Tuna, Gomae (Spinach with Sweet Sesame-Soy Dressing).

Uber Burger

Under new ownership, but still pumping out the favorite treats. Love their “burgers of many lands” concept, and it’s good to know that just about anything tastes better after a trip to the fryer. Hand-dipped gelato milkshakes are a plus, too.

Especially calorie-worthy: Moroccan Lamb Burger with Garlic Aioli and Gruyere Cheese; Cubano Panini; Mexican Burger with Chipotle, Grilled Onions, Avocado and Provolone; Chili Cheese Fries; Fried Pickles; Wasabi Mayo; Chocolate Shake or Root Beer Float.

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