Chicago

Devour Best-Ever Lemon Fries at Cross-Rhodes in Evanston, IL

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Greek chicken with unforgettable, lemon-soused "Maria" fries are destination-worthy. [Photographs: Jennifer Olvera]

There are meals that just stick with you. Evanston's Cross-Rhodes is one of them. I first ate there back in my early food writing days and thought, "If this is what it's all about, I'm in for a treat." Fast forward to today. I haven't been... in years. Turns out, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

This unassuming, Greek-leaning diner is nothing fancy—just an in-room kitchen, tiled floors, and a handful of generic Isles prints. Tables are crammed together. It's loud with the clang of cooking and more than enough crying kids.

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Put it all aside and find the best damn fries around. They're a thick steakhouse-style cut and double fried. This is important because they're served swimming in a pool of bracing, herb-flecked lemon-white wine vinaigrette. Get them "Maria-style"—you'd be wise to—and a shower of salty feta comes into play. Arguably, the best are saved for last; that's when remaining nubs are saturated with near-drinkable "jus." Yes, jus, because much of whatever you order—the crunchety-skinned Greek chicken ($10.00), the juicy skirt steak Rhodes-style ($13.75)—is served on top or beneath, melding meaty juices with the wonderment below.

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As for the rest of the menu, it's filled with greatness. The avgolemono ($2.10), while chicken light, is boldy tart from a blast of lemon, a pitch-perfect comfort food that doesn't skimp on flavor. Just skip the oyster crackers and add hefty shake of black pepper instead.

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And the gyros ($6.00)? They're alone worth the trip. Carved from the spit, the caramelized meat is piled high in puffy pita bread and doused with requisite tzatziki. Feel like a charburger? Get yours like the locals do: in a pita, topped with sliced gyro meat.

There are heftier options on the menu as well, among them moussaka and pastitsio, but if you go that route, do yourself a solid: get those fries alongside. Maybe two orders, in fact.

Cross-Rhodes

913 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60202 (map)
847-475-4475
crossrhodes.biz‎

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