Tapas Barcelona offers plenty of space (and food) for your next group outing.
Evanston changes back from sleepy suburban town in the summer to the center of Northwestern's happening student scene as soon as school gets back in session. Take some time out of your bustling class schedule and hit one of these spots just off the Purple Line.
Best of the nightlife
At night, this contemporary American restaurant turns into a popular going-out destination, thanks to its multiple rooms, bars, pool tables, dart boards and occasional DJs and live bands. It also serves up a hardy selection of specialty drinks and beers that range from a $2.50 Old Style to a $10 Ommegang Belgian Ale - so no matter how you like to let loose, you should be set.
Good for groups
You'll be tempted to linger at this Spanish restaurant for hours, thanks to the seemingly never-ending list of tapas and unhurried staff. The only problem: deciding which of the options to order. We suggest one of each. Divided into cold and hot options, the tapas cost between $3-$10 and range from baked goat cheese in tomato sauce with garlic bread to grilled mussels served on a sizzling skillet. If it's nice enough, the back patio is a great selling point.
With popular deep-dish joints like Giordano's and Lou Malnati's, Evanston has many options for pizza-lovers. Those favoring the thin-crust greasy variety complete with a pared-down atmosphere should check out Gigio's. Just a few steps off the L is the home of unexciting but reliable grub: Pizza by the slice, chili dogs, tacos and more. Sit at one of the picnic tables and enjoy a slice, an order of fried mushroom balls served with ranch dressing and a soda (perhaps even an obscure one, as they seem to have almost every kind known to man), all for under $6.
Where to chill
This mostly student-swarmed coffee shop draws in patrons thanks to its size and casual atmosphere. Music is always blaring at just above cafe-appropriate levels, making Cafe Ambrosia "your dorm away from home." Ambrosia offers a complete espresso bar, as well as loose-leaf tea and enough Monin options to concoct some definite one-of-a-kind lattes, which are all reasonably priced.
Stepping through the set of French doors into this dimly lit, low-ceilinged bookshop (literally in an alley off Sherman Avenue) feels like traveling back centuries to a time before reading for pleasure was replaced by reality TV. Only a painted sign quietly calls attention to the store, tucked in an alley in a building that Bookman's has called home for nearly three decades. What initially appears as a tiny reading nook reveals itself as a maze of dusty, colorful rooms, brimming with mostly hardcover, used books on every subject and quirky antiques (not for sale).
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