We heard the rumors. Cheesie’s Pub & Grub, a Chicago favorite, was coming to Evanston. It was going to serve grilled cheeses that surpassed our wildest dreams and would be open until 3 a.m. It sounded too good to be true and I refused to believe it until I saw it with my own eyes.
On October 3, the dream became a reality and Evanston residents flocked to the convenient location on 622 Davis Street, around the corner from Edzo’s. The line ran out the door and down the street. After a glimpse of the food in the window and a couple of heavenly whiffs, people happily stood in line for an average wait of 45 minutes to an hour. Once inside, you’re immediately engulfed in a world of cheesy goodness, with bright orange walls adorned with images of everyone from Stephen Colbert to Willie the Wildcat enjoying gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, music hums in the background, and a jar of chalk sits on each table for customers to scribble on the chalkboard walls. While you wait for your food, you can catch a glimpse of the kitchen where the chefs are busy concocting deliciously cheesy creations. Appetizers include fried pickles, cheese curds, mac ‘n’ cheese bites, chicken tenders and loaded tater tots. If you’ve never had fried pickles before, it might be hard to imagine quite how good they are. The lightly sour, salty taste of fresh pickle slices combined with a crunchy fried encasing is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten.
The centerpiece of the meal is, of course, the grilled cheese sandwiches, which range from $4.50 to $9. Each of the 12 sandwiches has been given a unique name and is served with an complementary dipping sauce. My personal favorite, and what the friendly staff confirm as the most popular, is the Tenderizer. Nestled between two fat slices of Texas toast lies a melted combination of cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, hot sauce, bacon, fried chicken tenders and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, served with ranch dipping sauce. Each bite promises a mouthful of thick, lightly golden brown buttered bread and chicken dripping with melted cheese.
Another favorite is the Popper, a fiery mix of cheddar cheese, cream cheese, cheddar sauce, fresh jalapeño slices and bacon served on sourdough bread with a spicy chipotle mayo dipping sauce. The Napoleon boasts cheddar cheese, blue cheese crumbles, tater tots, bacon and hot sauce served on Texas toast. Other fillings can be found in the Frenchie, which is filled with classic thick-cut cheesy fries, or the Mac, which is stuffed with a portion of homemade mac ‘n’ cheese.
For obvious reasons, Cheesie’s is quickly becoming a Northwestern favorite. With unforgettable grilled cheese sandwiches, an affordable bar which will begin serving alcohol within the next couple of weeks, a 10 percent Wildcat discount, the option for delivery, and a closing time of 3 a.m., we can definitely agree with what customers have been writing on the walls.
Price range: $$
Address: 622 Davis St (between Orrington Ave & Chicago Ave), Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun, 11:00 a.m. to 3 a.m.
P.S. Check out Cheesie’s in Chicago.