If you love sandwiches, ethnic food and adventurous eating but thought this wonderful combination couldn’t possibly exist within Evanston city limits, you’re in for a surprise: Soulwich, a fast-casual Asian sandwich shop that’s long been overshadowed by places like nearby Chipotle and Naf Naf, delivers big-time in all three categories. And it’s about time it gets some recognition for its great food.
Despite its location in a small, clean space on Orrington Ave., Soulwich is a colorful hub of exotic flavors ranging from coconut curry to wasabi teriyaki. There are eight different sandwich options on the menu, each of which come with a choice of a pork, chicken, steak or vegetarian base. But that’s where the similarities to Chipotle end. These delicious sandwiches—which somehow manage to be spicy, sweet and savory all at once—are all served with a standard, yet tasty combo of pickled carrots, cilantro and chili aioli, all atop a toasted, freshly baked roll straight from Bennison’s.
All menu items hover below $8, which is a pretty good deal considering the freshness and variety of ingredients. The employees are friendly and eager to provide menu recommendations, so they’ll probably do you a favor by suggesting the Indonesian ginger barbecue sandwich. Strongest in flavor, this option really provides all the tastes you could want: The sweetness of the ginger and pear juice go well with the hearty pork, complementing this sandwich’s smoky barbecue flavor.
But while Soulwich nails it with most of its innovative sandwiches, the Singapore Tikka is not one of them. Served with tomato, butter, onion and curry, it has a milder flavor, but not necessarily for the better. The curry and butter together give the sandwich an overly creamy flavor that overwhelms the flavor of the chicken. So if you’re trying to play it safe and choose a simple sandwich option, try the Paneer fig sandwich instead. It’s an excellent vegetarian choice that comes with goat cheese, homemade fig spread and infused, caramelized onion.
If sandwiches aren’t your thing, they have three salad options. The ginger peanut salad with cilantro rice, toasted sesame seeds and vegetables is a decent choice that will leave you satisfied. And don’t skip the sides here—the homemade Asian coleslaw is made without mayo and tastes more like a vegetable dish at your favorite Chinese restaurant. You can also choose between original homemade chips and Burmese chips—which have a spicy kick to them—to pair with your sandwich.
You may want to choose another location for your next date, however, because these sandwiches are extremely messy and difficult to hold together since they are packed with so many ingredients. But if you’re up for trying some unique eats in Evanston without spending too much time or money, you won’t regret having a meal at Soulwich.
Location: 1634 Orrington Ave, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thu: 11am to 9pm, Fri-Sat: 11am to 11pm