I just published a LONG article about becoming plant-based, or vegan, or whatever you want to call a person who doesn’t eat meat, eggs or dairy and tries to eat lots of plants but occasionally eats Pop-tarts and honey and wears leather shoes.
In the article I concluded that:
“Plant-based eating is not (and should not be) synonymous with over priced, trendy, vegan food. Vegans don’t have to be bougie. I am not saying you won’t ever see me out at my favorite vegan hot spots, because you will from time to time. But that’s not what it’s about. Becoming plant-based is a conscious simplification of food consumption in an effort to improve individual health, the well-being of humanity, and the environment.”
Even though trendy vegan food, and vegan hot spots, are not the focus of my plant-based lifestyle, they can be a fun treat. For those moments, I’ve created this list of my favorite spots in Chicagoland for vegan dining!
Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the Southside, this place is 100% vegan! The Big Ole Bowls have inspired my own plant-based creations at home. Not only is this a great spot for vegan eats, B’Gabs Goodies is constantly giving back to and inspiring the community!
“We believe that every person that desires to upgrade their food choices to include more live and vibrant fresh fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds should be able to do so.”
The Chicago Diner, famously “Meat Free Since ’83,” is a favorite among vegans and non-vegans alike. They have two locations, one in Lakeview and one in Logan Square.
The diners are 99% vegan, (offering dairy-cheese and egg options for certain meals).
The Chicago Diner is the perfect place for vegans to satisfy cravings for real food and for non-vegans to support their vegan friends without feeling like they are eating weird vegan food. Their signature dish is a Reuben and their milkshakes (my favorite is strawberry) can’t be matched!
This vegan soul food spot is located on the Southside. It is 100% vegan, despite vegetarian in the title. OSV caters to vegans and health conscious eaters without sacrificing the traditional flavors of soul food. In addition to a full-service restaurant they have an attached juice bar that sells dairy-free ice creams, smoothies and juices!
“We create food that is 100% plant based and completely free of animals and chemicals. Our food also uses no refined sugars, flours, or rice—allowing you to indulge in taste without the guilt.”
This little spot in Pilsen offers several different vegan tamale options (in addition to non-vegan options). All the tamales are steamed in banana leaves instead of corn husks to provide extra moisture. The masa exterior of all the tamales is 100% vegan, using olive oil instead of lard for a lighter, airy texture. This is a great spot for vegan and non-vegan tamale lovers!
My sister brought me to this vegan spot in Wicker Park and it did not disappoint! The Handlebar has a unique, hip, yet laid-back, vibe- which is right up my alley. The menu is full of clearly labeled vegan and non-vegan items, great for mixed groups! My sister and I are determined to make the Sambal Tofu entree at home.
A lot of Ethiopian foods are naturally vegan. I especially love this restaurant because they clearly label the vegan items (and the spicy items)! I went to this spot with my mom, we ordered five small portioned vegan/ veggie dishes to share and two appetizers. The veggie dishes were served with injera, a spongy traditional Ethiopian bread, used to scoop up the food. This restaurant was the perfect spot to explore a new cultural cuisine while staying true to my vegan lifestyle!
These donuts are as elusive as they are BOMB! As of this writing, Beacon Donuts does not have a store front. My sister was the one to first introduce them to me when she brought me home a Boston Creme donut from the Wicker Park Farmer’s Market last summer. I was lucky enough to get back there one Sunday morning before it closed for the season. The best way to find them is by following them on Instagram and staying tuned for updates!
This place sells vegan pizza (and regular pizza) by the slice!! It is good… and cheap! Located in Wicker Park, this is a great spot to satisfy a late night pizza craving, or, as was the case for my trip there, for a lunch date with your favorite 6 year old!
This one almost didn’t make this list! Not because it wasn’t delicious (it was BOMB), but because I just learned about, and ventured to, this spot YESTERDAY. This little diner, with walls covered in customer art and Garbage Pail Kids cards on the tables, is rad. It’s not an exclusively vegan spot but they have a lot of vegan options and take extra special care of anyone with dietary restrictions. They pride themselves on being a spot where any group of people can get together and order exactly what they are craving! (They do brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 3pm!)
This is a small town diner in Westmont, IL (not far from my sister’s house) that surprised me with their vegan selection. First of all, vegan dining is not a big thing in the burbs. There are a few places where you can find something vegan if you look hard enough, and a few salad chains that might hit the spot. But they are nothing compared to what can be found within the city limits!
Which is why this spot was a such a huge surprise!
They always have vegan chili, a jack-fruit pulled pork sandwich, and the BEST french fries of all time, as well as seasonal vegan dishes.
I will still be in Chicago for two more weeks. Between the holidays and goodbye get-togethers, there is a good chance I will hit up another vegan spot before I head out. If I do, I will update this post!
Ok, I ended up at a new vegan spot the day I posted this!
I had planned to spend the day with my sister in the city, knowing her favorite restaurant is Handlebar, I assumed we’d end up there. On a whim we decided to check out a vegan place that neither of us had heard of before!
Alice and Friends is in Edgewater, on the North Side of the city, about a block from Ras Dashan, the Ethiopian restaurant I listed previously. The food at Alice and Friends was out of this world good! The restaurant atmosphere, at least at 4pm on a Monday, had a small town, hippie-dippie, vegan vibe.
The menu is Asian inspired- I ate Crab Rangoons for the first time since going vegan. The mushroom popcorn nuggets were my sister’s choice, I was a bit hesitant, but they ended up being one of my favorite items! I highly recommend this spot for vegans craving traditional Asian fare! The whole menu and vibe of the place is very vegan, but I think even my non vegan friends would appreciate this spot- the food is that good!
What are you favorite spots for vegan eats in the Chicagoland area?