Tomate is the talk of North Campus. Compared to downtown Evanston, Noyes Street was really lacking in food options for us Northern off-campus dwellers. With Fraiche closing, the reduction of Rollin’ 2 Go’s hours and even losing the Great Room, there wasn’t much left. But that was before Tomate came to Noyes.
Tania Merlos-Ruiz, the owner of Tomate, is not new to the Evanston food scene. She started by selling her creative and locally sourced empanadas at Evanston farmers’ markets. When her food had great success, she decided that her own storefront was the next step. And boy, was that the right decision.
Tomate is carry-out or delivery only, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in charm. As soon as you enter, you’re greeted by Tania and her staff, all extremely warm, friendly and willing to answer any questions. The menu features several different meat options, such as carne asada, Panko habanero crusted tilapia and al pastor, along with the option to choose a taco ($3 each), gordita ($4 each) or burrito ($6 each). Although I’ve heard great things about the burritos, I opted to try three different types of tacos.
The carne asada taco fit my expectations to a tee — the steak, nestled in between two corn tortillas, was flavorful without being greasy. Next I tried the chicken tinga taco, at the recommendation of Tania. The sauce on the chicken was just spicy enough to balance with the sweet crunch of the onions. While these two tacos were great, the crowning glory of Tomate is its al pastor. All my attention was focused on its perfect seasoning — I could easily have had three more.
In addition to its variety of meat, Tomate has great vegetarian options, including caramelized onion and charred poblano tacos, yucca and chimichurri gorditas and sweet potato burritos with cauliflower, charred corn, guajillo sauce and cotija cheese. If that doesn’t get your vegetarian mouth watering, I don’t know what will.
Overall, Tomate Fresh Kitchen is a great addition to the North Campus food scene. It’s street food kicked a notch up, and I can’t wait to go back and try some of the empanadas that got this place started.
Location: 914 Noyes St. Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thu 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-4pm