Good thing we have expansive diversity in our ethnic dining scene, right? Or at least we can pretend to go country-hopping with our Americanized cuisines. But I digress.
To point you to the niche dishes of some Evanston hotspots, NBN sat down with resident white person and good friend of mine, let's call her Annie (though there's little fiction in the following conversation). Annie is your average NU student; she loves her Longchamp and her fried chicken. She took us on a tour around the (Evanston) globe and shared her favorite staples to order at each stop.
(Truth be told, we mean well. After all, we're not racist, we love white people.)
Starting off with a safe bet, Annie says her favorite to order at the "Mexican" chain is a chicken burrito without beans, adding, "sometimes I like beans though." To bean or not to bean is the question here, but Annie's decision is easy with a simple menu: a chicken burrito and minimal fixings. And sometimes beans.
Still a fairly American institution, Potbelly offers up a bigger menu with familiar sandwiches and salads. Annie goes the poultry way again with a chicken and cheddar sandwich, with a cookie. Since Potbelly doesn't offer up the traditional chocolate chip, Annie opts for the oatmeal chocolate chip instead, which maybe isn't as white as the chocolate brownie cookie. Or the sugar cookie, I guess, if we're going to be color analysts about this.
Next up, we come to the American-Italian feast. Starting off this bloc is Papa John's Pizza, where Annie goes for the pepperoni pizza, an alt-traditional to the more popular cheese variety. When in Evanston, Annie heads for either Lou's or deals with Papa John's. Nevermind Gigio's or Union, Annie has a busy schedule and she sure isn't going to trek out to Maple and Davis to grab a slice of 'za. At least she knows not to head to Sbarro.
Dave's Italian Kitchen
Part two of the Italian feast, this restaurant is a bit closer to the real thing than your average corner pizzeria. Here, Annie says she'll get "anything." And what's not to love? You can't go wrong with good old spaghetti with mozzarella or chicken marsala… well maybe you can go wrong with shrimp & scallops. Annie wouldn't go near seafood if it meant giving up all of her Ralph Lauren cardigans.
Venturing into other European, er, "European," territories, Annie's says her favorite at the Celtic Knot Pub is "whatever the mac and cheese thing is." We're assuming she's either talking about the item on the kids menu or the "Knot Just Mac and Cheese" on the pub menu. Either way, Annie likes to keep her meals simple. If she can't have Kraft, might as well go for the next best thing, right?
"I like tapas," Annie says. Dandy! We've come to the right place then. Again, we're making assumptions on Annie's part. She doesn't specify any further, so we're thinking everything is greenlighted. Maybe she'll be adventurous and go for the Cabrillas Barcelona. Oh wait, that's snails. Never mind.
Annie makes sure we hit all four corners of the earth. After the European gig, we make some pit stops in Asia. First up, Mt. Everest, serving up Nepalese and Indian specialties. But Annie quips, "I wouldn't go there." Oops. Guess we're not covering all corners of the earth then…
This Northwestern staple has seen many a drunken college swarm and late night delivery calls. This is the first of Annie's "Pan-Asian" / "east Asian" locales. Faced with a plethora of choices, Annie goes for her favorite, chicken fried rice. That's cool, we'll get the pad thai and lo mein at some other place.
Despite the various noodle and curry dishes at Thai Sookdee, Annie goes again for the chicken fried rice. I mean, it's Thai this time, right? And it comes in a round bowl as opposed to a rectangular one.
This quirky restaurant has homey Taiwanese and Korean comfort food. Annie surprises us again with the chicken fried rice. Ah, but at least this time it's "orange chicken with rice." She'll try the "popcorn chicken with rice" next time.
Right. Another Chinese restaurant. This time, Annie recalls, "I had some noodle thing there." We've done enough guesswork for the day, so we'll just go with the chicken lo mein noodles this time. At least it has chicken in it, which is obviously a safe bet for Annie.
Cozy Noodle & Rice
Just when you thought Annie was branching out to noodles (perhaps she'll try a curry this time?), she reverts back to her chicken fried rice. Well, fuck it. At least she can wash down those gallons of soy sauce with her caramel frappé if she needs to.