You're going on a first date with someone in Evanston and you want to plan ahead to ensure the two of you have the best time possible. You’re probably already busy thinking of everything from the perfect outfit to the funniest conversation starters, so NBN has taken "where to eat" off that list. After all, a location can make or break a date.

Here are the top five best restaurant options for a first date downtown. And yes, all of them are walking distance from campus.

LeTour ($$$)

LeTour is easily the most aesthetically sophisticated restaurant on this list, with its modern rotunda building and luxuriously beautiful interior. Owner Amy Morton describes the decor as “Andy Warhol on the French Riviera” – a blend of classic French style and juxtaposing Pop Art motifs, with 18-century toile wallpapers and contemporary textiles. The restaurant serves an exquisite selection of French cuisine with a twist of Moroccan flair. A gorgeous bar with sleek wooden accents serves as the centerpiece of the 360-degree space.

Photo courtesy Yujin Tatar / North by Northwestern

Koi ($$)

A favorite destination amongst Northwestern students, Koi provides a world-class sushi dining experience, including classic minimalist Japanese-style architecture. The glass and wooden tile accents, as well as the massive open window, make the entire dining experience feel truly authentic. While sushi is the most popular option, Koi also offers meat and noodle entrées that are equally delicious. Koi is a great option if you don’t want to break your bank thanks to the exclusive Northwestern student menu featuring plenty of dishes that are all $9.99 or less.

Photo courtesy Koi Evanston

The Barn Steakhouse ($$$)

This one’s for the big shots. Tucked away in an alley in the heart of Evanston, The Barn is a premium steakhouse. Once you enter through the secret doors, a traditional and nostalgic American interior with 20-foot high ceilings and a spectacular golden chandelier awaits. The Barn offers a variety of the finest steak cuts you could imagine, as well as gourmet pastas and caviar sandwiches. A great choice if you want to make an impression.

Photo courtesy Yujin Tatar / North by Northwestern

Kansaku ($$)

While Koi shines because of its traditional Asian setting, Kansaku shines because of its elegant nightclub vibe. With its sleek curtains, defined metal structures and shining red accents, Kansaku provides a consummate modern dining experience straight out of a Tokyo luxury district. The menu provides endless options for sushi and other entrées at even better prices than its nearby competitor.

Photo courtesy Yujin Tatar / North by Northwestern

Patisserie Coralie ($)

And finally, to end this list, we have the most wholesome and affordable option: a pretty boutique cafe with an assortment of classic French baked goods. Ornate couches and tasteful French decor offer the perfect Parisian atmosphere for you to sip your coffee to the sound of vintage accordions. Grab a couple macarons and croissants and truly immerse yourselves into the City of Love.

Photo courtesy Meryl Li / North by Northwestern


If you want to really dress and impress, take your special someone to LeTour or The Barn. For the classic chill sushi date, Koi or Kansaku are both great. And if you just want to grab a cup of coffee, share a memorable moment at Patisserie Coralie. Hope you have a great time, and good luck on your first date!


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