Whether you’re fretting about where to take that cutie you’ve been crushing on in chem for a casual coffee date or looking for a romantic anniversary dinner locale, we’ve got all the details here. We hope you enjoy reading about these date destinations as much as we enjoy writing about them, and that you’ll give some of them a taste.
So in the spirit of this selection: Drink up!
Restaurant: Brothers K Coffeehouse
Hours: Mon-Fri, 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Sat-Sun, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Address: 500 Main Street, Evanston
Getting there: About a twenty minute walk south from the Arch, or a two minute walk from the Evanston Main stop on the Purple Line
The Brothers K Coffeehouse, tucked away in south Evanston, is a hidden gem. Beyond the Northwestern bubble, the Brothers K calls to mind one’s coffee shop experiences before becoming a sleep-deprived college student. The edibles at the Brothers K satisfied our taste buds, and the conscientious staff and patrons were a welcome change from occasionally impersonal university life.
Before I go any further I must say this: I’m not a coffee drinker. Never have been. Sarah is certainly the coffee connoisseur of the two of us, to the point that the fact that Brother K’s makes their coffee from fair trade organic beans only marginally registers as a good thing to me. My expertise lies toward the tea end of the hot-drink spectrum, so I had a cup of chai. The chai at Brothers K is, in presentation at least, not like any I’ve had before: the top three inches of my cup were filled with a head of thick froth, presumably a byproduct of the steam and milk in the drink. I had to work my way through the foam to get to the actual chai but this was a delightful task. The froth had a uniquely thick, almost liquid consistency and tasted toward the sweeter end of chai’s herbal range. Furthermore, by the time I’d cleared the foam off the top of my chai, it had reached optimal drinking temperature; I have a bad habit of burning my tongue out of impatience in situations like this, so not doing so on this occasion was a small but notable victory. In addition to the chai, I had a spinach and feta pie. According to their website, Brothers K gets most of their pastries from local bakeries in the surrounding area. Based on that website and the content of my pie I would guess that it came from the Middle Eastern Bakery & Grocery. The pie was a nice little treat with sweet creamy feta and tangy spinache, reminiscent of a fatayir or some similar Syrian pastry. It was surprisingly filling and I wound up taking half of the personal-sized pie home. It reheated very well, and might have actually been more delicious when I had the leftovers for breakfast the next day.
Coffee shops, in my experience at least, aren’t typically home to the most hands-on service. In truth they don’t need to be, but that doesn’t seemed to have stopped the staff at Brothers K. The barista who helped us as we ordered certainly seemed to know her stuff, chatting with Sarah about the different types (blends? brews?) of coffee that they offer. She was exceptionally friendly. The other barista, the one who made our drinks, was definitely skilled at her trade: she crafted a delicate piece of latte art on the skim of Sarah’s drink.
Brothers K walks the line between boisterous local hangout and quiet venue for relaxation. While it was crowded when we stopped in and people were definitely carrying on conversations with each other, it was far from noisy inside the coffeehouse. The patrons seem to respect the café and each other, which was refreshing after the cacophony of our last date. Amateur art hangs on the walls and quiet but recognizableindie rock plays in the background. Brothers K seems to me like a lovely paradox, simultaneously a lively hangout and a quiet date spot.
Date Factor (4/5)
Brothers K reminds me of nothing so much as the coffeehouses I went to on dates in high school. It’s just removed enough from the university scene to have its own unique feel and the treats are great, to boot. The walk from campus may be a little long, but I find that time great for casual conversation. The quiet and comfortable but still vivacious atmosphere of Brothers K makes it a cozy spot for a relaxed date, and it’s got just enough quirk to make things interesting too.
Brian and John Kim, the eponymous owners of the Brothers K, brew fair trade organic coffee beans purchased from Chicago-based Metropolis Coffee Company. These locally roasted beans make for quite delicious coffee. I ordered a small latte, which was much larger than I anticipated. The delicate and layered flavors of the espresso were not overwhelmed by the steamed milk; my latte was wonderfully balanced. Free of the flavor of generic corporate caffeine, the Brothers K’s various coffee beverages are handcrafted and artisan roasted. This pleasantly provincial approach to coffee is evident with even one sip. As important as the coffee is, the Brothers K also sells a wide variety of sweet and savory pastries. These more substantial offerings are equally well-sourced; the Brothers K sells food items from a variety of local bakeries and restaurants, including the Lucky Platter. My cranberry and pecan scone was surprisingly moist. The slightly chewy cranberries and crunchy pecans suspended in delicious dough struck a beautiful textural balance. The Brothers K is a top-notch coffeehouse, but this does translate into their prices. I paid over $5 for a small latte and scone. Although more reasonably priced than many coffee shops, this is still slightly beyond what I consider reasonable.
The baristas at the Brothers K are personable and friendly. Our cashier was more than willing to explain a few of the specialty drinks to me. The Brothers K, like many independent coffee shops, prides itself on its latte art.This characteristic finish to a latte’s presentation makes a Brothers K latte both a unique work of art and a scrumptious afternoon pick-me-up. It has been rumored that the talented Brothers K baristas engage in latte art throwdowns when business is slow. The Brothers K even offers latte art classes on occasion. If you find yourself particularly partial to the Metropolis beans the Brothers K brews, you are in luck! The Brothers K sells both half-pound and one pound bags of whole beans on site.
The interior of the Brothers K Coffeehouse is spacious and light due to wall-to-wall windows in the exterior walls. Several shelves filled with books and other knick-knacks lend a touch of personality to an otherwise neutral space. The seating consists of fairly standard wooden tables and chairs that are spaced throughout the restaurant. A narrow bar stretches along the wall-to-wall windows, allowing patrons to look out on Main Street while savoring their beverages. A benign blend of music played unobtrusively in the background. The Brothers K is home to a satisfyingly un-collegiate environment.
Date Factor (4.5/5)
The primary drawback to the Brothers K is its distance from campus. In the warmer months the trek down to Main Street can be a nice opportunity for fresh air and a rejuvenating walk, but the Brothers K’s appeal dramatically drops during the winter. This coffeehouse otherwise makes an ideal casual date locale. There is nothing pretentious or intimidating about the Brothers K, which allows for a pressure-free date. Whether you’re planning that first coffee date or looking for an alternative to another afternoon at Norbucks, the Brothers K is a perfect place to take your sweetie for a cup of Joe.
Brothers K is a fun alternative to the campus-side coffeehouses we were used to. It took us back to our high school days with its casual atmosphere and simple, good snacks and drinks. It may be a bit of a walk, but hey, the weather’s pretty nice these days. If you and your date are in need of a change of scenery, we recommend you give Brothers K a shot.
If you’ve had an experience at Brothers K Coffeehouse or have ideas for future date locations, leave us a comment below!