The changing of the seasons brings a shift in wardrobe and activity, but most importantly, new specials at restaurants around Evanston. As winter rolls around and the temperature drops below zero, nothing warms up a cold winter’s day more than a hot coffee or freshly seasoned, well-prepared meal.

Earthy, deep and fragrant, winter spices add a level of complexity to dishes and boast a multitude of health benefits to ward off the common cold.

Evanston is home to an abundance of charming restaurants with delicious specials and freshly-brewed sips. The the addition of twinkling lights to lead pedestrians through the neighborhood make it easy to stumble upon a quaint place to eat or drink. With plenty of dishes to choose from and spices to enjoy, the Winter Wonderland doesn’t have to end in December.


Peppermint is a staple on any winter menu. Whether mixed into a Philz Iced Mint Mojito or the star of a chocolate bark, the cooling aftertaste is quintessentially Christmas and refreshes the palate in the new year. Aside from flavor, peppermint’s antibacterial properties fend off inflammation, congestion, headaches and cold symptoms. The strong flavor helps to open the nasal airways and fight off bacteria to clear congestion.

Lucy Jung


A pinch of fresh nutmeg is the sign of a master chef. This versatile spice can be used to cook up bechamel sauce (known as “the mother of sauces” in French cuisine), stirred into curries or dusted atop a glass of eggnog.

Evanston’s Sherpa Curry House has a multitude of curry options, some of which highlight nutmeg’s decadent flavor. The nutty, warm taste can even elevate the simplest of snacks like apples and peanut butter.

In minimal doses, nutmeg is found to inhibit enzymes that help to prevent aging, protect the body against various health conditions. It takes only a small amount for this magical spice to shine through stews or natural cold remedies.


Add cinnamon to sweeten up a winter dish! Cinnamon serves as a versatile and exciting spice; no apple crumble or glazed carrot is truly complete without the marriage between sweet and savory that cinnamon creates.

Though commonly the star of coffee and tea blends — like Cupitol's decaf Saigon Cinnamon brew — cinnamon is frequently found folded into baked goods. Head to Cinnaholic on Sherman Ave to personalize a vegan cinnamon roll with a few of their 20 toppings, including chai frosting, chocolate chip cookie bites and pie crumble.

On the health side, cinnamon aids nausea and indigestion, serving as the perfect post-meal tea flavor. Raw cinnamon sticks can be placed in a cup of hot water for a delicious homemade tea time.


With its origins in southern India, cardamom is an important cooking ingredient all over the world. Its taste resembles that of mint, eucalyptus and pepper, and can be found in a hot chai tea or Turkish coffee. For an afternoon pick me up, Colectivo serves a Cardamom Spice Mocha featuring housemade vanilla-cardamom syrup and a shot of espresso.

A common spice in garam masala, cardamom adds a richness to lentils, curries and meats. Mumbai Indian Grill in Evanston serves Galab Jamin, fluffy milk puffs doused in a rose and cardamom flavored syrup – the perfect follow up to their extensive array of Tandoori specials and traditional Indian dishes. 

Lucy Jung


Winter would be incomplete without decorating a gingerbread cookie, but this spicy root carries well beyond the Christmas season. Add a fresh punch to any protein dish like chicken stir fry or deepen the tart flavor of a fruit cobbler.

A crucial component in cooking and baking, ginger also serves as an herbal remedy for congestion. Thanks to its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, ginger lemon tea can help boost immunity and reduce inflammation. Find a seat at the three-in-one restaurant, Five and Dime, Lulu’s and Blue Horse Tavern for a sip of Liquid Confidence (LqC), a lemon ginger kombucha cocktail created by Northwestern Kellogg candidates in 2021. For those feeling adventerous, their Yuzu & Ginger Spritzer made with Q Ginger Beer and rhubarb bitters pairs nicely with a Plant Based Burger or Simple Prep of Salmon. 

No mattter the medium, these five flavors of winter offer a delightful turn of culinary events, with health benefits to boot. For those brave enough to bare the cold, Evanston offers an array of places to discover their wonders. 

Photos courtesy of Lucy Jung and Steven Zheng.