Evanston diner offers 'funkalicious' fare

February 3, 2012 10:02:45 AM PST
Students come and go over the years in Evanston, but one thing hasn't changed in nearly two decades: The Lucky Platter.

The staff at the Platter has never taken itself that seriously. On their website, they bill themselves as serving "funkalicious post-hippy eclectic world cuisine." What does that mean, exactly? For a few generations of locals and Northwestern students, it translates into sheer comfort food at a fair price.

As it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, The Lucky Platter hasn't had to worry about keeping up with trends, because its regulars know they can count on the funky, off-beat diner for solid, reliable, homemade food.

"We've been around about 20 years now. It's a very notable place, a lot of people come here on a regular basis. Say 75 percent of our business is regulars," said Erik Masheimer, one of the employees at The Lucky Platter.

For breakfast, most folks go with a benedict. Imagine a base of roasted tomato sauce and griddled cornbread (rather than English muffins), topped with sauteed spinach and thick, fried green tomatoes; poached eggs are eventually drowned in a creamy-rich hollandaise and topped with chopped scallions.

"Our benedicts, people love our benedicts. Crab benedicts, the fried bendicts, that's our mark, people love them," Masheimer said.

At lunch, nearly every table has sweet potato fries, but there's also a great selection of sandwiches, like the tuna melt, which is also served over cornbread slices, finished with tomatoes and avocado, with a massive mound of hand-cut fries - either sweet potato or cajun - on the side.

Dinner brings the familiar and the hearty. Tilapia is crusted in cornbread and horseradish then sauteed until crisp; it's plated over roasted parsnips and a charred tomato sauce. Pot roast is perfect this time of year made even more comforting with a side of mashed potatoes and some crunchy bok choy that's been drizzled in honey mustard. But these kinds of dishes won't last forever.

"It's a seasonal thing, we do change our menu every couple of months, so you can't come here and get pot roast 12 months out of the year, unfortunately," he said.

One of their best-loved soups, also worth checking out, is the Caribbean pumpkin; just $3.50 a bowl.

The Lucky Platter
514 Main St., Evanston
(847) 869-4064