Northwestern's Other Big 10: Ten Places to Eat (And Eat Well) Under Ten Bucks in Evanston

It's still very possible to eat a great meal in Evanston for less than $10. These places make you look more like a savvy insider who knows the city than the kid who blew through his meal plan before the end of the first semester.

School's just started, you're not even done settling in, and your meal plan is still flush.  Why should you care about eating off campus?  Evanston is almost as great as Chicago when it comes to the quality of its culinary delights, that's why.  Besides, you didn't come to Northwestern just to learn what fast food chains were like in another city.

Of course, having just started at NU, most of your cash is tied up in educating yourself.  Luckily, Evanston has plenty of options for good eating under $10.  This guide will get you off campus, learn about what this city has to offer, and maybe even help you sound like you know what you're talking about - a part of the college experience that can't be overvalued.

Golden Olympic Restaurant

1608 Chicago Ave

Daily 6 a.m. - 9 p.m.

You can always start your day with a cup of diner coffee at Golden Olympic.  This eatery is a step or two above a greasy spoon, but the prices aren't.  Most everything on the menu is affordable, from the eggs and pancakes to the cheese sandwich.  Perfect for soaking up a night out the next morning or just starting a day off with delicious, greasy food.  It isn't hard to pick up a wifi signal either.

Cheap Eat: Toast, two eggs, bacon and hash browns - $6


The Unicorn Cafe

1723 Sherman Ave

Monday - Saturday 

6:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.


7:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.


Of course, if you're not in a hash browns kind of place, The Unicorn Cafe is a more sophisticated option.  Free wifi, soups and sandwiches, pastries and Metropolis coffee.  Half of Evanston will be studying here at any given moment, but seeing your friends out is part of the fun.  The Cafe also runs a charming blog http://unicorncafe.wordpress.com/ full of sandwich porn.  Cash only, so come ready.

Cheap Eat: Vegetarian Sandwich, $5 and the hummus plate $4


Weiner & Still Champion

802 Dempster St

Mon-Sat 10:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Sun 11:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


By now, of course, it's lunch time.  Full of coffee and vegetarian goodness, it's long past time to hunt down and consume some meats.  This hot dog and burger joint is so cheap they've never even seen a ten dollar bill.  The owners allowed grade school students to name the place, and feature a different weekly dipping sauce, like Sweet Onion Bacon or Black Truffle and Mushroom.

Cheap Eat: A double 1/3 pound cheddar burger and fries, $8


Cross Rhodes

913 Chicago Ave

Mon - Sat: 11:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Sun: 4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.


Of course, sometimes you need something just a bit fancier than hot dogs and fries.  Not top hat and monocle fancy, mind you, but maybe nice-napkin fancy.  Cross Rhodes is a Greek restaurant that's affordable and accessible.  One could fill up on the appetizers alone and build a great meal from them: spanakopita, feta cheese and pita bread, or a plate of olivers - all under $4 apiece.

Cheap Eat: Greek style chicken in a white wine sauce, $9


Al's Deli

914 Noyes St

Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.


AL's Deli has been serving up amazing sandwiches to Evanston for over 60 years now.  The menu is both classic and modern:  turkey is served under aioli, roast beef finds it's way to a seven grain bread.  Soups change daily, and focus heavily on hearty lentils.  The huge sandwiches can take a while to make, but it's worth the wait.  Cash only, closes at 4 p.m.

Cheap Eat: Smoked turkey on rosemary olive bread and swiss cheese, $8


Siam Pasta

809 Dempster Street


Once you've burned out on sandwiches it's time to rediscover the joys of the fork.  Or the chopstick.  Cheap sushi outside the Whole Foods deli is hard to come by, but Evanston definitely doesn't want for Thai food.  Siam Pasta serves up affordable tasty Thai in the form of $7 lunch specials on weekdays.  Entrees are mostly under $10, with some house specialties reaching $11.

Cheap Eat:  The yellow, spicy panang curry with chicken or beef for $9 (get it with chicken or ask for tofu - just trust us here)


Buffalo Joe's

812 Clark St

Mon-Sun 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.


No list of Evanston's cheap eats would be complete without this institution.  Buffalo Joe's does more than wings, but wings are what they do best.  A single order of wings is just $6.50 and can come mild, spicy, suicide or BBQ.  FOr that inevitable day when you're all winged out, there are a number of sandwiches on offer here including Italian beef for $5 or a Sheboygan brat for $4.

Cheap Eat: A single order of wings, $6.50, and spicy cheddar chips, $3



1633 Orrington Ave

Monday - Friday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Saturday:11am - 10 p.m.

Sunday: 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.


At some point, someone is going to suggest you try to clean out all the wings and hot dogs and hash browns from your arteries.  When it's time to humor then, do yourself a favor and do it at Pomegranate.  The Mediterranean eatery is great for dinner or lunch - a good portion of the menu is under $6, like the gigantic falafel sandwich for $4.50.

Cheap Eat: Steak in a sack - Carmelized onions, thin cuts of steak, served open face in a traditional pita with mayonnaise and sauce, $6.


Dave's Italian Kitchen 

Sunday through Thursday 

4:00-10:00 p.m.

Friday & Saturday

4:00-11:00 p.m.

1635 Chicago Ave


Italian food can be some of the most expensive restaurant food, but it can also be some of the most filling.  The cute, artsy atmosphere at Dave's, tucked away as it is in an underground space, makes this the perfect place to get your carbs on while you weave your date magic.  Much of the menu is beyond ten bucks, though not by too much. Luckily, there's a host of custom designed pasta and sauce combinations that can be had for $9.

Cheap Eat: Ravioli with spinach, mozzerella, ricotta, provolone and romano cheeses, $9.75.


Andy's Frozen Custard

719 Church St

Mon-Thu, Sun 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Fri-Sat 11 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.


Finally, we have dessert in the form of Andy's Frozen Custard.  This Missouri import is new to Chicago, and while it doesn't bring the feeling you get at the location down in Springfield, MO - a balmy summer night, fireflies and your friends in a small town parking lot, customers waiting in lines three or four people deep for thick, unpourable ice cream treats called Concretes - it does bring the authentic custard flavor, and cheaply, too.  

Cheap Eat - Andy's Ozark Turtle - vanilla custard with caramel and hot fudge, topped off with cherries and pecans, $6.


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