As the weather starts warming up, the idea of venturing past Davis St. becomes more appealing. Beyond the Trader Joe’s and Jewel Osco, Evanston has a lot of cool cafes, bookstores and vintage shops to pique your interest. The majority of these trendy shops lie just beyond the Dempster L stop, but the extra walk is worth it, especially in the warm spring weather.
Hoosier Mama and Dollop Coffee and Tea
749 Chicago Ave.
This popular pie palace lies a block down from the Main L stop, and has some of the tastiest pie and coffee in Evanston. Hoosier Mama and Dollop are worth the extra trek because they serve interesting flavors you can’t get anywhere else. I got a honey lavender iced latte and my friend ordered passion fruit meringue pie and both were delicious, refreshing and springy. The huge windows brighten up the place and make it the perfect spot to go for brunch on the weekend, while the open café atmosphere makes it perfect for getting some work done when you’re tired of Norris.
The Brothers K Coffeehouse
500 Main St.
If Dollop indulges you in unique flavors of coffee, The Brothers K is no-nonsense and that’s how we like it. They offer a classic menu of coffee, espresso and tea without the sweetener-laden flavor syrups we’re so used to from Starbucks. However, what they lack in variety they make up for in quality, because their coffee is bold, not bitter and doesn’t need to be covered up by caramel or hazelnut. Purists will celebrate the commitment to unabashed coffee flavor and syrup-junkies will be convinced to try a cup of the straight stuff.
Squeezebox Books and Music
1235 Chicago Ave.
This little bookstore is about the size of an Allison double, but it packs a lot of interesting old literature, art books and records into its small space. My friends and I spent a lot of time perusing the stacks for old books of poetry, weathered novels and Post-Modern plays. The best part about this store is that it combines interesting collections with pretty cheap prices. Most of the books were about 5 dollars each, even the large, hard-cover art books with full color pictures. They also had a collection of signed books, vintage magazines and old postcards that would interest antique collectors or anyone who wants to decorate their dorm room with black and white portraits from the 40s.
Stumble & Relish
1310 Chicago Ave.
While walking through this store I was constantly afraid that I would bump into something and knock it over. The store was packed with different gifts, mostly handcrafted by Evanston artists and curios. We spent a long time looking through the jewelry and home décor Stumble and Relish offered. I was impressed by how elegant the handcrafted jewelry was and I was very tempted to buy one of the artisanal candles.
1245 Chicago Ave.
Sometimes deep dish doesn’t cut it, and for an East Coaster like myself, Union Pizza is the answer. They serve authentic wood-fired artisanal pizza in a trendy lounge/dining room that reminds me of the converted-warehouse restaurants in Brooklyn. They are open until 10 p.m. most nights and are open until 12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, making it the perfect place to take a date you’re looking to impress. The restaurant is also connected to Space, a music venue that hosts all kinds of performers including jazz, rock, folk, local and touring musicians, so it’s really a win-win.