The baristas at The Rock House wouldn’t lavish their attention on any old beans picked out of a wholesale catalogue—they needed a more personal experience with the coffee-growing industry. To guarantee the wholly non-exploitative origins of each cup of java served at their shop, the coffee brewers partnered with growers to develop their very own crops and went the extra mile to ensure quality by roasting all the beans in-house. As the baristas brew single cups with an artisanal pour-over method, customers can sip Sri Lankan teas, sift through rock-’n’-roll-inspired merchandise under the light streaming from naked light bulbs, chandeliers, and disco balls.
The spirit of rock 'n' roll is alive and well at 27 Live, a restaurant, lounge, and performance venue named to honor members of the 27 Club—rock stars such as Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison who died at age 27. The restaurant's seasonal menu puts a modern twist on American classics using local ingredients, hand-ground meats, and house-made breads and pastas. Upstairs in the whiskey lounge, craft brews pour from taps, and local bourbons are delivered to discerning palates. 27 Live's partnership with independent distillery and fellow Evanston culinary anchor FEW Spirits means the restaurant graces glasses with custom libations. If not eating at a table or clinking glasses in the lounge, patrons are relaxing in candlelight on leather sofas in the private VIP suites amid wooden beams and exposed-brick walls. In addition, 27 Live's stage and sound system host various musical performances, which guests can take in while sitting, dancing, or doing the coolest move of all—The Sitting Man.
Tommy Nevin's Pub was founded by Steven Prescott and christened for his grandfather Thomas Nevin, a WWI veteran. The flagship location in Evanston touts a bright red façade that pays homage to the renowned Temple Bar in Dublin, and the menus at all three locations likewise salute the culture of the Emerald Isle. Though it inhabits a decidedly Celtic corner of the pub world, Chicago Bar Project deemed the Evanston outpost “the best bar in the suburbs” for its “intriguing combination of country Irish pub, modern Chicago bar and cutting-edge alternative music venue.” Chefs whip up corned beef and shepherd's pie as bartenders handle taps and spirits. Friends can cheer on local sports teams on TV or wrack their brains to remember the name of Azerbaijan's currency and most popular potato-chip flavor at weekly trivia nights.
Determined to find out how his favorite pizzeria made its pies, 13-year-old Vince Bibattista didn't scour cookbooks or even ask the chefs. Instead, he got a job there, which jumpstarted a lifelong culinary passion that led him to various Chicago kitchens and the classrooms of Kendall Culinary College before landing him at executive chef position at Evanston’s Campagnola. At the critically lauded Union Pizzeria, Vincent combines his experience with a return to his roots as he tops his wood-fired pizzas with locally grown, organic ingredients such as lamb, potato, and capers. He supplements those pies with shareable hot plates such as shrimp and grits, as well as cold plates such as bruschetta crowned with white beans and roasted cherry tomatoes––a cold plate far more appealing than the salted snow served at other locally-focused restaurants. To round out his Italian-style feasts, Vincent also crafts a different main every day, including balsamic-braised short ribs and herb-roasted Amish chicken.