Finding food in Evanston for special diets

It’s 8:30 p.m. The last lecture of the day just ended. Someone says, “Hey, let’s go to Andy’s!” and a group heads to town.

Eating Andy’s Frozen Custard is a rite of passage for cherubs. But someone who is lactose intolerant, like me, will run into obvious obstacles.

This guide will show you the tastiest dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan foods in Evanston.


Strawberry and watermelon sorbets are available at Cold Stone Creamery. Photo by Jenna Anderson

For the situation described above, you have several options: stay on campus, go for a walk and get nothing, or take a Lactaid and hope that, this time, it will actually work. However, there is another restaurant with a dairy-free, creamy dessert. Cold Stone Creamery has sorbets and is just a block from Andy’s. They may not be as rich and creamy as custard, but the sorbets are sure to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Evanston provides plenty of local options for lovers of dairy-free coffee. Unicorn Cafe, Colectivo and Cupitol all carry plant-based milks.

For those who are lactose intolerant and prefer tea, Kung Fu Tea, a popular spot for cherubs this year, is perfect. Customers can swap out regular milk for lactose-free milk.

Another favorite joint is Insomnia Cookies where gluten-free cherubs like Allie Worchell have an option.

“Insomnia has ice cream, so I usually get a cup of chocolate ice cream. No cone because it has gluten in it,” said Worchell, who is from Los Angeles.

Another popular eatery for cherubs with restrictive diets is Pono Ono. The entire menu of this poke restaurant is dairy-free and gluten-free except for the crab, which contains wheat.

Poke bowl ordered for pickup from Pono Ono. Photo by Jenna Anderson

“Pono Ono is rare because their sauces are gluten free and normally soy sauce contains wheat,” said Talia Abrahamson of Los Angeles, a cherub who has celiac disease.

Gluten-free cherubs can get more treats on Saturdays at the farmers market. Defloured: A Gluten Free Bakery runs a booth and sells a variety of treats, from blueberry scones to bundt cakes.

Abrahamson said Defloured has great desserts. “I’m a huge fan of the vanilla cake. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it’s consistently good.”


Vanilla cake from Defloured: A Gluten Free Bakery. Photo by Jenna Anderson

Most Defloured treats contain dairy, but the bakery has several vegan options. Defloured sells vegan chocolate chip cookies, brownies, oatmeal creme pies and more. Its products can also be found at Colectivo and Whole Foods Market.

For a savory meal, cherubs with restrictive diets should head to Blaze Pizza. It serves gluten-free crust and vegan cheese. It is not the famous Chicago-style deep-dish of Giordano’s, but it is tasty and accommodating.

“Blaze pizza is always nice for the late-night snack,” Worchell said.

Evanston provides options for restrictive diets, but there are rare moments when no accommodations can be made. Abrahamson does not let this hold her back.

“I don’t think that food should restrict me at all socially,” she said. “If my friends want to go out to have cookies, I go for the experience of being with my friends.”