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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northwestern chapter.

Evanston, Illinois, is alive with a vibrant food scene that has a delightful twist: many of its restaurants are owned by women! Offering everything from casual bites to fine dining, these eateries deliver a diverse and multicultural experience that brings the community together. Whether you’re in the mood for comfort food or exotic flavors, Evanston’s women-led restaurants cater to all tastes, making every meal a celebration of diversity and female entrepreneurship.

To mark the importance of supporting women-owned restaurants, I’ve compiled a collection of some popular Evanston restaurants that you might not have known are owned by women:

Koi Evanston
Owner: Sandy Chen
Cuisine: Asian
Location: 624 Davis St, Evanston, IL 60201

Since its opening on Chinese New Year in 2004, Koi has offered not only amazing student menu prices but an eclectic mix of dishes. Owner Sandy Chen attributes the restaurant’s success to a blend of luck and ambition. More than just a business for Sandy, the kitchen is a canvas for her culinary art. At Koi, her passion for cooking continues to fuel her daily endeavors, making it a true embodiment of her life’s work and passion.

Cupitol Coffee & Eatery
Owner: Sellia Georges
Cuisine: French-inspired breakfast/ lunch and coffee
Location: 812 Grove St, Evanston, IL 60201

Cupitol in Evanston is a vision that came true to Sellia Georges, who infused her European heritage into the heart of Illinois. Named to represent the “capital” of coffee and food, Sellia aimed to create a spot with a European flair, offering a relaxed atmosphere, superb food and coffee. Since its opening in July 2016, Cupitol has become a beloved community hub in Evanston, attracting not just locals, but also students and faculty from Northwestern University. With its diverse menu including vegan and gluten-free options, and its welcoming environment, Cupitol is an all-around fave.

La Cocinita
Owner(s): Benoit and Rachel Angulo
Cuisine: Venezuelan-inspired Latin American street food
Location: 1625 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60201

La Cocinita in Evanston brings a slice of Venezuelan flavor with its vibrant street food-inspired menu. Founded in New Orleans in 2011 by the dynamic husband-wife duo, Benoit and Rachel Angulo, La Cocinita offers a delightful array of traditional Venezuelan arepas, empanadas, plantains, and more. The restaurant expanded to Evanston in 2016, bringing its popular flavors and catering capabilities, including food trucks and buffet-style services, to the local scene. With appearances on major TV networks and accolades such as being voted the best food truck in New Orleans, La Cocinita has firmly established itself as a culinary gem celebrated in two of the Angulos’ favorite cities.

Elephant + Vine
Owner: CD Young
Cuisine: Plant Based/ Vegan Casual
Location: 719 Church St, Evanston, IL 60201

Founded by CD Young, a Kellogg alum, the restaurant aims to be a fast-casual counterpart to her other vegan venture, Spirit Elephant in Winnetka. Transitioning to veganism over a decade ago for environmental and animal welfare reasons, Young found personal health benefits that spurred her to enter the restaurant industry with no prior experience. Elephant + Vine offers a menu designed to be “crave-worthy” with dishes like cauliflower wings, grain bowls, and Impossible burgers, moving beyond the stereotypical vegan salad.

Owner: Rosario Barreto
Cuisine: Traditional American and Mexican Brunch
Location: 618 Church St, Evanston, IL 60201

Co-owned and managed by Rosario Barreto and her husband, Frida’s aims to offer a unique blend of traditional American and Mexican dishes, including eggs, chilaquiles, pancakes, burgers, enchiladas, and burritos, setting itself apart from other establishments in the area. The name “Frida’s” is a nod to the famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, reflecting the artistic and detailed approach to the food crafted by Chef Daniel Coronel. With an emphasis on healthy, homemade meals and a vibrant, trendy atmosphere, Frida’s is a beloved spot for both long-time residents and students in Evanston.

Good To Go Jamaican Cuisine
Owner: Lenice Levy
Cuisine: Jamaican
Location: 711 W Howard St, Evanston, IL 60202

Alongside her husband, Lenice Levy co-owns Good To Go, which uniquely blends Jamaican food with American, Italian, and Spanish influences. This vibrant and tasty restaurant has grown in the beloved community hub in Evanston. Complete with a recently added rooftop that hosts regular events and live music every weekend, this expansion was recognized when Levy was honored with the Businessperson of the Year Award by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, acknowledging her long-term commitment to both her business and the community. Through her leadership, Good To Go Jamaican Cuisine embodies the spirit of community and resilience, making it a cornerstone of local culture in Evanston.

Owner: Sam Rattanopas and Mina Sudsaard
Cuisine: Thai
Location: 1622 Orrington Ave, Evanston, IL 60201
“We started with our belief that authentic Thai food should be found not only in Thailand—but here, as well.” With this philosophy, Sam Rattanopas and Mina Sudsaard co-founded NaKorn Urban Thai in Evanston, bringing traditional Thai cuisine to downtown. The NaKorn menu is a journey to the streets of Bangkok with a creative twist. Dishes like Ginger-Bourbon Popcorn Chicken showcase how Sam and Mina blend old-world Thai flavors with a dash of modern flair. Situated in the heart of Evanston, each dish at NaKorn tells a vibrant story to every diner.

Soul & Smoke
Owner: D’Andre Carter and Heather Bublick
Cuisine: American Barbecue
Location: 1601 Payne St. Evanston, IL 60201

Soul & Smoke is carving out a notable presence in the barbecue scene, offering a range of dining experiences that cater to the tastes of BBQ lovers citywide. Known for its takeout counters in Avondale and Evanston, food trucks that roam the city, a kiosk at Soldier Field, and a grocery line at Mariano’s, Soul & Smoke is expanding its footprint. Chef D’Andre Carter and CEO Heather Bublick, the dynamic duo behind Soul & Smoke, are driving the brand to new heights with their combined culinary expertise. They’ve turned their passion for soulful, smoked cuisine into a multifaceted operation that not only caters to food enthusiasts but also deeply engages with the Chicago community.

Tomate Fresh Kitchen
Owner: Tania Merlos-Ruiz
Cuisine: Mexican
Location: 914 Noyes St, Evanston, IL 60201

Tomate Fresh Kitchen in Evanston is a haven for those craving “gourmet street food” with a Latin American twist. Established by the talented chef and owner Tania Merlos-Ruiz, Tomate offers an array of Latin street food delights, from empanadas to tamales. Although primarily focused on carryout and delivery, Tomate’s vibrant flavors reflect Merlos-Ruiz’s commitment to infusing traditional Latin dishes with seasonal local produce. Her culinary expertise is celebrated in the community, particularly her unique take on tilapia fish tacos and robust, flavorful salads. This culinary hotspot continues its tradition of providing Evanston with a taste of Latin America’s lesser-known but exquisite flavors. Whether it’s the popular pumpkin empanada or a piece of flan, every dish at Tomate is a testament to Merlos-Ruiz’s passion for sharing the culture.

Trattoria Demi
Owner: Denise Sieja
Cuisine: Italian
Location: 1571 Sherman Ave Ste 1, Evanston, IL 60201

In the mood for Italian? Look no further than Evanston’s infamous Trattoria Demi! Owned and operated by Denise Sieja for nearly 30 years, this gem on Sherman Avenue has been a staple in the community, offering a tasty inside to Italy’s infamous cuisine. Originally inspired by the dishes at Trattoria Peppino in Elmwood Park, Sieja envisioned creating her own Italian haven in Evanston. This iconic eatery just blocks from Northwestern Campus and numerous local businesses is the perfect spot for lunch or dinner any day of the week.

Melany Torres

Northwestern '26

Melany Torres (she/her) is a sophomore at Northwestern University majoring in Communications and Political Science with a minor in data science. Her hobbies include dancing, writing, and reading. She aspires to become an immigration lawyer in the future.