Bat 17, a restaurant and bar in downtown Evanston, attracts all sorts of crowds, ranging from families celebrating birthdays to college kids wanting to have a quick, filling meal.
Located on Benson Avenue, this tiny yet well-known restaurant established in 2007 is known for not only its food and drinks, but also its quintessentially Evanstonian atmosphere. At this restaurant that seats approximately 40, you’ll probably be sitting a foot away from the next table, with just enough space for a waiter to squeeze through.
If you only had one day to spend in Evanston, you might just want to stop for a meal at Bat 17.
There has to be a reason the Daily Northwestern rated Bat 17 as the “Best Evanston Restaurant” three years in a row. Is it because of the complimentary coffee bar? The sandwiches made with bread specifically baked for them by Bennison’s, a popular local bakery?
Yep! You read that right! Straight from page 10 of their menu:
Correctomundo, you heard right! BAT 17 features the city’s first free coffee outpost. Running late? Buzz in for a quick cup of java and out you go. NO CHARGE. On your way to the train and you do not have time for breakfast. Bingo. Pour yourself a fresh brewed cup of coffee with all the trimmings and off you go, no charge. Obviously, we are not idiots (maybe that is not so obvious?) and we would encourage and hope our coffee patrons will stay for breakfast or grab a quick bite. Hopefully, everyone will smell the intoxicating flavors at BAT 17 and come back at various times for lunch, carry-outs and dinners. Either way, we are glad to be a part of Evanston and we hope to be around for many, many years.
The free coffee that Bat 17 offers is not very strong but still earns my respect, because it really is the thought that counts. Shitty coffee is still better than no coffee.
The menu: concise yet diverse. It offers burgers, balawats (breakfast sandwiches), sliders, and breakfast all day. Think French toast, flapjacks, and more. Each item comes in at around $10-$15 each, but just wait until you see the serving sizes.
Oh, and their sassy Bat Observations are a clear sign that they care about customer service as long as the customer is a decent human being:
Bat Observations: We make everything to order. We have a kitchen smaller than a Chicago Cubs trophy room. If your order doesn’t arrive lickety-split, don’t go all Lewis Black on us. It’s coming.
Bat Observations: The drinking age is 21. We will ask for identification even if you look like a member of the Rolling Stones.
In addition, the menu lists bountiful chicken and turkey dishes, beef and pork signatures, fish and veggie options for the pescatarian/vegetarian in you, and interesting salads (like the asparagus-themed one) and gluten-free bread, among other things.
Natalie was a bit concerned the first time we visited. Her K-2 Bat 17 Burger ($13.99) was about the size of her head. This ground beef burger, topped with melted Cheddar, had fried onion strings stacked three inches up, and sat in between two thick slices of Brioche bun.
That Thursday afternoon for lunch, I ordered the Sausage Balawat ($11.29). This breakfast sandwich holds up well in a takeout box, because you will inevitably have leftovers. Topped with scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, and Muenster, this sausage on sourdough really hit the spot. The diced breakfast potatoes that I chose as a side were perfectly crisp and salty!
It seems that Bat 17 is never completely empty. There will always be an odd couple eating in non-peak hours or a loner at the bar, but when there’s a huge rush, you’ll likely never have to wait long for a seat. Once you do sit down, there will always be someone at your table within minutes, ready to serve you.
And you never have to wait long for the food. Our orders took about ten minutes on average, which is commendable for a substantial lunch/dinner crowd.
On a separate occasion, Maddy and I visited on a Tuesday evening. My order of Chicken Salad Sliders ($11.29) came with four huge sliders, about the size of a Shake Shack burger. Each was topped with a thick serving of chicken salad, some applewood smoked bacon, and skewered with a pickle chip. I finished about 1 and 3/4, and took the rest to go. I would have liked some sort of vegetable component, fries even, to balance out the protein-focused meal. Our waitress, however, said that the Chicken Salad Sliders were her favorite thing on the menu, likely because they are quick, inexpensive, and filling, three characteristics with which I agree.
The next time I visit, I’ll probably try their Cinnamon Roll French Toast (served only on the weekends!) or the Sampson & Delilah, described as “a mountain of homemade tuna salad (white albacore), Vermont white cheddar cheese served on grilled, hand-sliced sourdough.” You all know I love me some delicious tuna salad.
Oh, and do they accept the Wildcard student discount? YES!
1709 Benson Ave.
Evanston, IL 60201
One check per table! Download Venmo!