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Evanston’s Best Restaurants
January 27, 2023
Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Evanston. All places that are equally renowned for their exquisite cuisine, widely regarded as the four food capitals of the world. Journey through downtown Evanston and experience a symphony of scintillating smells and tantalizing tastes from Evanston’s many five-star restaurants (citation needed). If you want to experience true joy, taste the face of God, then go to Evanston, specifically these four restaurants.
You can’t talk about iconic Evanston restaurants without bringing up Edzo’s. Since 2009, Edzo’s has been serving up mouthwatering burgers, fries, shakes and more from its prime location in downtown Evanston. If you’re looking for an exciting place to get a great meal, Edzo’s is the perfect destination, and it’s for that reason it has earned the designation as the Best Evanston restaurant as voted on by ETHS students.
Edzo’s is an essential part of Evanston culture that has provided many of us with great food and priceless memories. I have countless memories of going to Edzo’s with my dad on a cold winter day or with my friends on a half-day in middle school. When Edzo’s closed for remodeling during the pandemic, Evanston residents couldn’t wait for it to reopen.
“I was super happy when it reopened. I tried to go as soon as possible when it did, because I really love that restaurant,” says sophomore Zach Cutter.
I felt the same way, when I heard that Edzo’s was reopening in September after being closed for seven months, I knew I had to go.
The first thing I noticed when I returned to Edzo’s was the change in decor. The wall-sized chalkboard menu and the colorful burger mural were gone. The menu had been replaced by an ordering app and the mural had been painted over with colorful stripes. Despite the change in appearance, the atmosphere of the restaurant still fits owner Eddie Lakin’s original vision.
“I wanted it to look like a funky hotdog stand… that had been there since the 60s or the 70s and not changed. I want people to think…it’s been there for 40 years,” says Lakin. This definitely came through when I entered Edzo’s. With the retro stripes stretching around the walls and the vintage poster hanging opposite the counter, it was easy to believe this place had been here for a while.
I wasn’t in Edzo’s just for the atmosphere; I wanted to eat. I eagerly ordered a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and ketchup, and a side of fries. Within minutes my food was ready, the burger and fries tossed messily into little cardboard boats. My nose filled with the intoxicating aroma of the warm, golden-brown fries, and I quickly stuffed a handful in my mouth. They were just like I remembered them, soft yet crispy, perfectly thin, and salted just right.
Next, I grabbed the burger and took a bite, careful to get a taste of each ingredient. My tongue was bombarded with an array of different flavors, the tender beef patty, the gooey cheddar, the crisp lettuce, the juicy tomato, the tangy pickles, the sharp onion, the sweet splash of ketchup, and the soft, fluffy bun. It had been a while since I had eaten a burger this good.
“We grind the beef fresh every day. We have the potatoes fresh every day. We try to use whole ingredients that start with real produce and not buy stuff that’s frozen or already pre-made before we cut it. And then we just try to cook it fresh and serve it quick,” says Lakin.
I could taste the difference, Edzo’s fresh ingredients gave strong, unique tastes, elevating the food to an ever higher level. After devouring the rest of the burger and fries, I leaned back in my chair, satisfied. I was happy to know that my favorite Evanston restaurant was back in business and better than ever.
If you missed Evanston’s best burger restaurant during COVID, don’t worry. Edzo’s is back and just as good as you remember. The restaurant looks a little different, but the great food and retro atmosphere are still the same.
“The vibe of the place is really fun, and [it is] a place that I can go to anytime [and] not have to worry about the food being good one day or bad one day,” says Cutter.
Runner-Up: Buffalo Joe’s
Are you looking for a cost-efficient restaurant with high-quality meals? If you’re a fan of wings, then Buffalo Joe’s is the right choice for you!
Founded by Joe Prudden, Buffalo Joe’s is known as the “Wing Pioneer” for creating many delicious sauces. Joe describes the process of creating the sauces as saying that he won’t use all of the ingredients because a little can go a long way. The three main sauce options they offer are, mild sauce, spicy sauce and—if you think you can handle it—the suicide sauce. All of these sauces lead to a diverse selection of wings. For freshman Alister Keely-Walker, the barbecue sauce is the best a part of the wings overall. Fellow freshman Hans Petraitis finds the spiciness of the barbecue sauce to be particularly enjoyable.
Wings aren’t the only thing Buffalo Joe’s serves though. They offer other foods such as chicken burgers, hot dogs, salads and fries. The burgers are 1/3 lb of quality steer meat per burger and have freshly cut cheese as well as fresh ingredients. They sell many different types of hot dogs but the most popular is their take on the Chicago-style hot dog. Since wings aren’t the healthiest food options, the shop attempts to make up for this by selling salads. They offer chicken salads which include their famous sauce and seasoning. Another staple on the menu is their Buffalo Fries, which are their take on waffle french fries that have an incredible amount of flavor. This balance of healthy with not-so-healthy never sacrifices taste. Freshman Katherine Kupferer finds the chicken to be her favorite part of her meal but is also surprised by how good the celery is.
The pricing at Buffalo Joe’s is decent. They sell high-quality food at average prices. Luckily, it takes little to no time for your order to be ready, which is beneficial if you are in a rush or are getting takeout. The size of the wings are small but they make up for it by giving you a hefty amount of them. This can also be said for the number of buffalo fries you get per order as well.
For both Keely-Walker and Petraitis, the best part of Buffalo Joe’s is how homey the entire vibe of the restaurant is. “The aesthetic of the place is different than the other wing [spots] since it’s a hole-in-the-wall type of place,” Petraitis says..
Finally, when asked what their favorite thing to order they all agreed to say the wings due to how good that flavorful sauce is.
“I love the sauce, it was definitely the best part,” Kepferer says.
Overall, if you are craving wings and are in the downtown Evanston area stop by Buffalo Joe’s!
Third Place: Todoroki
Todoroki is a sushi and Hibachi place located on 526 Davis Street in Downtown Evanston. They are open everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. everyday except Sunday when they open at 12:00. I find it easiest to make a reservation the morning you plan for dinner or as early as the day before to avoid the dinner rush.
The staff was very friendly and considerate as I went when their regular tables for sushi were still under construction. At the time the only section they had available was the hibachi area. They do charge extra for the hibachi, and because of that we had decided to leave and try somewhere else until they kindly told us they had tables in the back where they were undergoing instruction the were kind enough to offer. A few other people were there eating dinner as well. It was like banquet length tables so a decent amount of people could fit.
The menu for sushi rolls alone has a wide variety, but they also have a little section of classic rolls such as your basic California roll, salmon roll, etc. that were more on the cheaper side. Their more complex sushi rolls range from $12-$18.
I recommend one simple roll and one complex roll if you’re sharing with a partner, so you can have multiple rolls and share amongst each other. You spend under 30 dollars each.
They also have non-sushi dishes like fried rice and with various other items that aren’t seafood. You can get a generous bowl of fried rice for at most $15.
As for the taste, I got the shrimp tempura roll—a spicy tuna roll with crispy shrimp tempura, eel sauce and another sauce that I forgot what it was called. The roll was very enjoyable and refreshing. With the kick from the spicy tuna and the crunch of the shrimp tempura, the flavors combine beautifully.
The one thing I would say is there are drinks like their soda and lemonade that taste pretty watered down. Other than that the food is delicious and a great spot if you wanna go out to dinner with friends or family, and is definitely deserving of one of the top three restaurants in Evanston.