Open since 1949, this Evanston shop charms in its attempt to replicate a French deli, with vintage posters and photos of France hanging on the walls and a sign that reads WE ACCEPT EUROS behind the cash register. A simple approach to European sophistication—the very same tactic that makes its food so enjoyable, from Mackie's haggis-flavored potato chips to chewy caramel macarons to an array of fresh sandwiches (my favorite: smoked salmon and brie on buttered boule). But the real triumphs at Al's are the soups, usually just one a day though sometimes two (and often a homemade chili as well). As a lifelong hater of pea soups, I was stunned by Al's cream of pea. My favorite is a chilled summertime soup: lemon-zucchini vichyssoise—zesty, savory, smooth, and surprising. Al's updates its website once a week to let customers know which soups are forthcoming, but be warned: though they look the same, alsdeli.com no longer updates its soups, whereas alsdeli.net does.