CHICAGO - The neighborhood around Washington Park, on the city's South Side, has plenty of fast food joints, but few independent mom-and-pops.
However, our Hungry Hound said a five-month-old restaurant on South State Street is bringing some new energy to the neighborhood, with a huge menu to match.
Evelyn Shelton is a proud graduate of Kendall College - the area's premier cooking school. But rather than take her newfound skills to some North Side restaurant, she wanted to bring them home, to the South Side.
Fast-forward five months since she opened on South State Street, and you can taste why the neighborhood has embraced her with open arms.
Heaping plates of roasted chicken, fried catfish and sides worthy of a Thanksgiving table, give you the impression that Evelyn's Food Love near Washington Park is all about home cooking, and that's exactly the point.
"As you can see, this neighborhood is filled with fast food restaurants and they needed some home cooking so we brought that here intentionally," said Shelton, the restaurant's owner.
Shelton's recipes range from heart-healthy burgers to decadent fried lobster tails with french fries, a creamy remoulade sauce and coleslaw. An addictive shrimp and crawfish saute contains scallions and tomatoes, and is then served over a bowl full of cheesy grits.
"All of our vegetables are fresh, we don't use canned vegetables at all," she said.
Why would you, when the black eyed peas and rice or the stuffing, topped with cranberries are this good? Mac and cheese is a winner, as are the stewed greens.
"We're not a soul food restaurant even though we prepare soul food also; that's typically done on Sundays," she said.
Desserts are plentiful here - try one of her parfaits, or the cobbler - but the biggest thing here is the level of appreciation, mostly on the part of her neighbors.
"The community has welcomed us, they support us. We have been exceptionally well-received and we are so appreciative," said Shelton.
Extra Course: Dessert at Evelyn's
In Steve's extra course, he talks about all of Evelyn's desserts, including her peach cobbler and banana pudding cake.
Evelyn's Food Love
5522 S State St.