Anyone who has eaten a stale dining hall roll knows that not all bread is created equal. But if you dare to venture off campus to one of Evanston’s artisan (or not-so-artisan) bakeries, gluten goodness awaits.
Best cheap carb fix
1729 Sherman Ave. $
The “free smells” of baking bread that waft out of the Jimmy John’s on Sherman Avenue are tantalizing – before you remember how Jimmy John’s sandwiches actually taste. But for the low, low price of 50 cents, the cashier will hand over one of their squishy day-old sandwich rolls, sans meat and shredded lettuce. While a bit bland on their own, these rolls will more than do the trick as a solid vehicle for French toast or bread pudding.
810 Dempster St. $$$
Hewn bread is the craft beer of the Evanston bread world: non-commercial yeast, 100 percent organic ingredients and super-long fermentation times that result in more flavorful bread. Their country loaves and traditional baguettes are staple favorites, but they play around with tradition, too. Unconventional loaves such as polenta pumpkin seed rosemary or Nutella brioche rotate on and off the menu on a daily basis.
1000 Davis St. $$
Bennison’s might be best known for their impressive display of doughnuts, pastries and cakes, but they also churn out baguettes, enormous French sourdough miche loaves and special daily breads like sourdough and flaxseed. Each loaf has a crackly crust and a chewy crumb, thanks to the 30-plus hours of fermentation that allow the gluten proteins to break down and develop rich flavors.
1640 Chicago Ave. $$
Most people bypass the bread section en route to buying cereal or some other broke college student staple, but you can discover a treasure trove of options, including fresh-baked French bread, pretzels and challah. If the mood strikes, you can also pick up wine and cheese to keep your baguette company. Whole Foods is the best option for latenight carb cravings, too; it’s open until Great Harvest 10 p.m., much later than most bakeries.
Best sandwich bread
2126 Central St. $$
Sandwich bread isn’t usually this fancy (or pricey). Great Harvest’s whole wheat loaves, studded with seeds, nuts and other healthy things, cost $6-7 (luckily, samples are available). The clerk runs the bread through a machine that slices the loaf into the perfectly proportioned pieces found on grocery store shelves—or not, if you like your toast thick. And for something less fiber-filled or multigrain, try one of their giant buttery Apple Scrapple loaves or pans of monkey bread.