Oct 20, 2021

A commoner lands at the Little Island, Evanston, Ill.

As I’ve blogged about numerous times, whenever work takes me to the Chicagoland area, I like to resume my ongoing quest for the best Chicago-style hot dog I can find.  My “research” has taken me to places like Weiner’s Circle, the now-defunct Hot Doug’s, Nicky’s and Windy City Hot Dogs.  But a work assignment in the northern suburbs opened a whole new series of opportunities to go to the “dogs.”  And the first place I landed upon was an odd-shaped shack on an odd triangular lot on the western edge of Evanston.  It’s appropriately called the Little Island

The wedge of concrete where the Little Island stands is formed by the intersection of Central Street, Grosse Point Road and Crawford Avenue (it’s address is 2600 Crawford Ave., to be exact). 

Even with the building as small as it is, there isn’t a whole lot of space for parking.  And that works out fine, because there’s not a lot of room for dining, either.  So, plan to either east fast or take your order with you.  Fortunately, the lack of space for patrons means you probably won’t be waiting in line much, either. 

Despite its size, the Little Island offers everything on the menu you’d expect from a classic local Chicagoland dog and burger joint.  There’s your variety of hot dogs (all Vienna beef, of course), brats and polish sausages, along with an abundance of burger options, Italian beef, gyros … whatever meets your fast-food need.  Sides are equally wide ranging, from your standard fries and onion rings to Chicago standbys like pizza puffs.

You’ll also notice a large section of the menu and, in fact, the restaurant itself, caters to kids.  And sure enough, on my first visit, several kids rode in on bikes to get either a kids’ meal or a milkshake.  If Little Island has the endorsement of the neighborhood youth, that’s speaks volumes to me.   

Once you place your order, the cook starts the grill magic.  The oddity of the layout places the kitchen slightly below ground level with the dining area, but you get a great view of all the deep-fried and chargrilled goodness as it’s being prepared.    

So, with all the choices available, what did I order the first time I visited Little Island?  I’m sure any of their daily specials would be a good call, but since Little Island at its essence is a hot dog stand, get the everyday special of two Chicago-style dogs, fries and a drink.  My photo of the menu board is a little outdated, but you can still get the everyday special for around $9.  And you won’t find a better representation of the Chicago dog – they even splurge for the seeded buns.  And the snap of a Vienna beef wiener chargrilled just right seals the deal. 

I took my meal back to the hotel where I was staying, and you’ll notice the grease from the fries starting to seep through the bag in the picture.  What this doesn’t show you is how crisp the fries stayed on the ride home. 

Little Island seems to do everything right about fast food from a Chicagoland perspective.  If you’re in the north suburbs and you get a craving for good greasy grub, head to the little stand on the paved triangle in Evanston, Ill., and treat your inner child to a dog or sandwich and fries made to order.  You may even want to splurge for that milkshake. 


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