The beginning of your freshman year brings a lot of new. New room, new friends, new classes, but most importantly, new food. Evanston has nearly 100 restaurants to explore, so you better start eating your way through town now.  

1. Dave's New Kitchen

Price Range: $7 - $17

Address: 815 Noyes St.

Highlights: A tragic reality for the carb-lovers of Northwestern University is that the dining halls aren't super privy to pasta. When dorm room Easy Mac just doesn't cut it, head to Dave's for homemade pasta of every shape and size, paired with your choice of sauce. This snug, cozy restaurant also serves up house-made pizza, calzones and other Italian classics. 

2. Clarke's

Price Range: $4.99 - $12.99 

Address: 720 Clark St.

Highlights: Dining hall menus can be limiting. Clarke's' menu certainly isn't, featuring extensive breakfast options, 18 different burgers, and a slew of entrees. You definitely won't regret rolling out of bed on Sunday morning to indulge in the restaurant's cinnamon roll pancakes (an indulgence you won't find on Clarke's' regular menu. You're welcome). Extra points for their purple 'Cats decor, obviously. 

3. Shang Noodle & Chinese

Price Range: $7.95 - $16.95

Address: 608 Davis St.

Highlights: My idea of a perfect picture? A table filled with sizzling orange chicken, bubble tea artfully served in glass mason jars and hand-crafted dumplings. Fans of Chinese food, large portions and fast service will adore Shang. Plan a squad outing into downtown Evanston, grab dinner at Shang and order entrees for sharing so you can grab a bite of everything. Don't forget to take a snapshot of your tasty table to capture the envy of your friends who couldn't make it.

4. La Cocinita Restaurant

Price Range: $6 - $11

Address: 1625 Chicago Ave. 

Highlights: If you've never eaten Venezuelan cuisine and all the newness of college has you feeling adventurous, La Cocinita is the place for you. For a quick bite, try the heavenly empanadas, which are kind of like the Venezuelan version of dumplings: fried dough pouches stuffed with melted cheese, shredded chicken or pork. Another standout are the arepas, which are round dough pieces that can be stuffed with various ingredients to make a delicious Venezuelan sandwich. 

5. Le Peep

Price Range: $6 - $12

Address: 827 Church St.

Highlights: Pancakes or eggs? Sweet or savory? The struggle is real when it comes to choosing what to eat for breakfast. But why make that agonizing decision when you can have both (both?! yes, both!) at Le Peep? Try the pancake sandwich, which substitutes two mini pancakes for the bread of a traditional BEC (bacon, egg and cheese, duh). Le Peep's menu has something for everyone, especially those dejected freshmen that just missed the cut-off for the daily omelette bar in Sarge (we've all been there). 

6. Smylie Brothers Brewing Co.

Price Range: $8 - $24

Address: 1615 Oak Ave. 

Highlights: Meat lovers, meet your maker. Western-inspired Smylie Brothers never fails to please with Texas barbecue and homestyle comfort food. When final exam grades are posted at the end of your first quarter, drown your sorrows or celebrate your success with Smylie's rich, Wisconsin cheddar mac and cheese dusted with bread crumbs. 

7. Giordanos

Price Range: $7.95 - $21.25

Address: 1527 Chicago Ave.

Highlights: Observation: Chicago is in a perpetual state of indecision about where to find the best deep dish. Hypothesis: Giordano's has better deep dish than Lou Malnati's. Experiment: Try a slice of deep dish at Giordano's, then subsequently forget there was ever a debate. After a slice of cheesy goodness at Giordano's, the only question left will be why you ever voluntarily ate thin crust pizza. 

8. The Budlong Hot Chicken 

Price Range: $9 - $17

Address: 1999 Campus Dr. 

Highlights: The best part of The Budlong Hot Chicken? It's right here on campus, on the ground floor of Norris University Center. Sing your praise to Music City with an order of hot chicken tenders or a hot chicken sandwich topped with pickles. Can't handle the heat? No need to get out of the kitchen. You can choose how spicy you want your chicken to be prepared. 

Sure, overcrowded dining halls are a hallmark of your freshman year, but dare I say a nice meal at an Evanston staple should be too? Save the cereal and tater tots for another day. You deserve to eat out.