UPDATED JUL 14, 2020
We hope you’re prepared for the best plant-based food you’ve ever eaten. These are all the Chicago restaurants doing crazy and delicious things with veggies.
Uptown’s Kal’ish (which opened in 2017) is billed as “a 100 percent animal-free zone", but it doesn’t stop the plant-based diner from serving up hearty goodness in the form of its mouthwatering burgers or unique pulled pork-n-jack (pulled braised jackfruit), all of which are made from scratch. This spot is especially great if you're looking for veggie versions of all your favorite classics (see: Uptown Ruben with beetroot sauerkraut or Bad-Adz Mac with vegan bacon). Is your mouth watering yet?
With a hip, eclectic space, and a vegetarian menu that spans continents with multi-cultural offerings such as Vietnamese báhn mì and Nashville Hot Tofu, this Logan Square eatery is downright cool. We dare you to find a vegetarian who won’t go crazy over Ground Control’s beet burger — it looks almost exactly like a meat burger, but the taste is out of this world.
This neighborhood bar and restaurant may look like your average hipster hot spot, but its extensive vegan menu is anything but ordinary. In addition to great entrees, like the Sambal Tofu (house-made sambal, kale, broccoli, collards, edamame, green beans, and brown rice), this Bucktown café offers plant-based bar favorites, too, including fried pickles, vegetarian chili cheese fries, and BBQ seitan.
Make no bones about it: this 100% vegan Seattle transplant, which set up shop in Wicker Park, evens out the score after the loss of longtime healthy go-tos such as the Green Zebra and Mana Food Bar. In addition to all the usual suspects (tofu, veggies, and beans — you name it), there are plenty of nods to the beach club’s West Coast roots (you know, aside from the whole tiki theme) in the form of chowder soup, sushi, and more.
Bursting onto the Chicago dining scene in 2017 with vegetarian and vegan options galore, Clever Rabbit is a surefire bet for those looking to partake in clean, simple dishes of good old fashioned greens. We’re talking beet, tomato, and lettuce salads straight from the garden (literally — many of the veggies are served raw). Throw in some heirloom eggplants and veggie-filled flatbreads and you’ve got a recipe for plant-eating bliss.
Kitchen 17 alum Kevin Schuder created Fancy Plants Cafe, a spot offering coffee, tea, pastries, an assortment of gluten free pastries, soups, salads, and a fancy 5-course reservation-only dinner on Saturday and Sunday evenings. (Some of his creations include smoked seitan bacon, pot-baked cauliflower, and seared polenta cake.) Its all in the intimate space that was once Kitchen 17’s original digs. Keep a look out for a rotating chef guest list, dinner pop-ups, and occasional classes (like vegan cheese-making). Sign us up!
Thai food is usually a safe bet for vegans, but Urban Vegan in Lakeview—along with its rebranded sister restaurant, Vegan Plate, in Lincoln Park— take things a step further by offering a wholly vegan Thai menu, complete with some of the best imitation meat you’ll find in Chicago. Plus, with its multiple locations and delivery options, you can enjoy cashew nut stir-fry and wonton noodle soup at any time!
Locally grown? Check. Overflowing with healthy fruits and veggies? Check. Growing by leaps and bounds? Triple check. Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, The Publican) has truly outdone himself with Left Coast, where you can stuff yourself to the gills with avocado toast, buckwheat fruit pancakes, and dressed-up grain bowls of brown rice and garnet yams. With locations in Lincoln Park, River North and The Loop, this is one veggie-friendly locale you’ll surely want to visit.
There’s no such thing as a dispassionate vegan, but becoming a raw vegan may be the most enthusiastic of the bunch. Take Chicago Raw: between its Gold Coast cafe and French Market outpost, you’ll find totally unique options that are uncooked, full of fresh veggies, and served with a purpose — to heal your body from the inside out. Fitt Tip: you can almost always catch free samples at the French Market stall!
Celebrity chef Matthew Kenney’s windy city vegan venture, Althea, is causing a big splash. The internationally renowned cookbook author’s reputation for crafting mouthwatering vegan menus in an upscale setting precedes him, and it’s no wonder — staples like the Kelp Noodle Cacio E. Pepe and Spicy Udon Soup sound mighty nice indeed!
The Chicago Diner, which opened its doors in 1983, practically wrote the book on vegan and vegetarian dining in Chicago. Its decadent menu—chock-full of reuben sandwiches piled high with corned beef seitan, vegan milkshakes, and seitan barbecue wings—has been perfected over the years. With two locations in Logan Square and Halsted, this one is worth a visit.
The vegan cuisine served at this longstanding North Side restaurant, which has been making its mark on Chicago’s vegan scene for more than 20 years, combines traditions of Korean food preparation with modernized Western tastes. Feeling under the weather? Try Dr. K’s Cure-All Noodle Soup, which warms the soul with spicy broth, mushrooms, seaweed, noodles, and more veggies. If you're looking for some fuel for your soul, try the Amitabul Energy Nut dish (whole wheat noodles with flavored veggies and tasting nuts).
To call B’Gabs ‘beloved’ by its Hyde Park’s community would be an understatement. Whether you’re vegan, raw vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, or peanut-free, B’Gabs has your back (and belly). Good luck choosing just one of their Just the Fruit concoctions or Next Level Blends! Their tagline is "food for the soul" for a reason!
Recent vegan convert? Take heart: Kitchen 17, which moved to a larger space under new ownership in 2017, serves a vegan deep dish that is actually good! Then again, the house-made seitan gyro, Philly cheesesteak, and Buffalo Cauliflower Wings at this all-vegan joint aren’t half bad, either! Bring on the veggie grub!
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