From a comment made on the Triangle Park Cultural Fest post says more than enough.
Back in the 70s, there were some decent restaurants on Paulina NOH and on Howard nearby. The street drew more of a mix of people. Believe it or not, people came from Evanston to shop and eat there. People went to the bowling alley and next door Chinese restaurant where the Howard entrance to the mall is now. There was a good Mexican place on Paulina that appealed to a wide range of customers.
When the large concentration of low-income housing landed NOH in the 80s, conditions became less welcoming for the previously healthy businesses and their customers. Many of those spaces went vacant and were later changed to other uses, or to restaurants offering cheaper, greasier stuff.