UPDATED JAN 16, 2020
It’s no secret that Chicago’s food scene is one of the best. But one of the (many) reasons it tops other cities is because it’s not hard to eat out and still stay on track with your health goals. Actually, it’s quite easy, regardless of where hunger strikes. All you have to do is keep reading.
Californians claim that the left coast is the best coast, and even though we technically aren’t allowed to take sides here in the Midwest, we certainly agree that Left Coast is one of our all-time favorite places to grab something healthy to eat (and drink) here in Chi-town. Between their refreshing variety of fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, and a food menu that lists each ingredient in every option, you’ll already be planning your next trip back to the Coast before you even leave. Head to Lincoln Park or The Loop for your very own taste of California, without worrying about your waistline.
If you have a gluten allergy or are trying to avoid gluten altogether, then this upscale restaurant in the Gold Coast is about to become your new mecca. The menu is 100% gluten-free, and the options are so rich in taste that you’ll forget what gluten even is after your first bite. And don’t let the name full you — there is nothing little about the brunch, lunch, and dinner selections.
Wicker Park's Clever Rabbit is veggie-centric, meaning they do actually serve some meat. However, when they do, it's always the garnish to a full plate of vegetables (instead of the other way around). For instance, when the season is right, you can expect the likes of a hearty gnocchi with fava beans, pecorino calabrese, peppers, and a golden egg (that's an egg that has been craftily scrambled before it's boiled). Come back every change of season for a different taste of their delicious, veg-forward creations.
Mediterranean food cooked California-style in Chicago... stick with us here. That's the premise behind River North's Ēma. Here, the spreads, dips, and small plates dazzle, including their Spicy Hummus, numerous kebabs, and Green Falafel with beet tzatziki. Brunch, lunch, or dinner, make sure you come with good friends with big appetites. Ēma also shares a kitchen with its sistering fast-casual concept Rotisserie Ēma if you want their incredible food faster. Fitt Tip: And if you lean more keto, try to score a reservation at Chef C.J. Jacobson's "Mediterranean Butcher" concept Aba.
True Food Kitchen, found in River North and further afield at Oakbrook Center, has an eclectic menu that accommodates nearly all healthy eating habits. Uniquely, the foundation of their menu is based on Dr. Andrew Weil's “Anti-Inflammatory Diet” in an effort to reduce inflammation in the body and promote optimum health. But if this doesn’t sound familiar, don’t worry — you’ll certainly recognize the items on the menu anyway (after all, there’s pizza).
If you’re in the Loop (and even if you aren’t) and are looking for something healthy, make your way to Wells Street Market, where you’ll find FARE. Whether you’re on-the-go or have time to dine in, you’ll be ordering from a menu of innovative dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients you can actually pronounce. No secrets here, just sustainable food that’s just as tasty as it is good for you.
LYFE Kitchen’s lengthy menu includes a variety of health-conscious breakfast items, wraps, flatbreads, salads, tacos, sandwiches, craft cocktails, and more. And if that’s not enough, they have gluten-free and vegan menus as well. Our only complaint is they don’t have nearly enough locations throughout the city, but luckily, the three they do have are easily accessible in Streeterville, Gold Coast, and River North.
When it comes to targeting city dwellers in search of something healthy in the midst of their hectic schedules, Goddess and the Baker nails it. Busy Chicagoans can stop at any of the numerous locations for a quick but mindful bite to eat, some coffee or fresh juice, and a mouth-watering cupcake from the hard-to-pass-up bakery. But be warned: the vibrant decor, friendly staff, and extensive menu make it hard to leave — you might as well just stay for your next meal, too.
If the name sounds familiar, that’s because this place used to be Real Good Juice Co. But the local chain revamped its brand in 2018, opening their biggest location to date in River North at the same time. The best stuff? It's hard to choose now. The menu is loaded with even more delicious food options to complement your favorite smoothie and juice concoctions. And just like their beverages, everything is full of all-natural, fresh ingredients, which also means most options are paleo, vegan, and/or vegetarian friendly.
At Centre Street Kitchen, they’re about more than just food. They play at the intersection of eating well, doing well, and being well. How? By sourcing locally and sustainably, by serving healthfully and flavorfully, and by raising funds for cancer research. Want in on the action? Head to Lincoln Park, grab a seat, have a bite, and then add the name of a cancer survivor or fighter to their wall.
It’s hip, it’s healthy, it’s animal-free, and it’s a bar. If you didn’t think these four things could coexist, then check out Handlebar in Logan Square to erase any doubts. And if you’re thirsty, this bike-themed vegetarian and vegan bar and restaurant has a beer menu that’s just as long as its food menu. FYI: they don’t accept reservations, so be prepared to wait a little bit, or start biking there now to beat the crowds.
Beatrix neighborhood coffeehouse and restaurant in River North, Streeterville, Oakbrook, and Fulton Market is making all of your health food dreams come true. The group of eateries is putting a good-for-you spin on all of your favorite dishes. Cue Quinoa Cakes with Poached Eggs and Supernatural Chopped Salad. And with fresh-squeezed juices and an entire menu dedicated to gluten-free eats, you’ll have to be convinced not to stay for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Support local farmers—and your taste buds—by dining at Range. As the name implies, this farm-to-table restaurant in Lincoln Park crafts every menu item using only locally-sourced, fresh ingredients. Whether you’re stopping in for bunch, dinner, or a cocktail, you’ll be glad you did.
If you haven’t already, you’ll want to experience this Wicker Park restaurant that’s 100% vegan. The beach-themed hang out serves up expansive brunch (on weekends), lunch, and dinner menus that will make you forget you’re in Chicago, and not permanently at the beach. And if you’re soy- or gluten-free, they’ve got you.
This place may not be a fully vegetarian spot, but at Beefsteak, they believe that veggies deserve a bigger place on your plate — and we couldn’t agree more. The concept from chef José Andrés pairs all your favorite varieties (marinated beets, pickled red onions, tomatoes, and more) with greens and grains, sauces and toppings, and proteins and fats to max out their full flavor potential. And you can get all the goods at Northwestern University. No need to be a student, but heads up: they’re closed on weekends.
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