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April/May 2007
My Kind of Town: Veg Eats in Chicago
Restaurant Guide by Daniel Hauff


Capital of the Midwest, the Second City, the Windy City or Chi-town. Whatever you call it, Chicago is an urban delight with Midwest friendliness. For a city made famous by the Union Stockyards, Chicago is actually a great place for vegans and vegetarians.

Mercy For Animals is happy to present www.VegIllinois.com, your online guide to cruelty-free eats throughout the state. Simply select your neighborhood to see the best options for a good dining experience. And don’t worry about getting lost. We can give thanks to the O’Learys’ cow for kicking over a lantern and starting the Great Fire of 1871, that the Windy City was rebuilt on a grid. All the major streets are numbered. If you get lost, just do the math and you’re back on track.

The restaurants listed below are just a handful of what you’ll find on www.VegIllinois.com. Simply search and you’ll see...we’ve got it all!

Alice and Friends
Inspired by favorite Chinese, Japanese and Korean dishes, Alice and Friends offers patrons fabulous vegetarian faux meats, paired with traditional style noodles or rice. Try the Almond unChicken, Beef Skewers or Smoked Veggie Duck. These perfect entrées leave you pleased, with just enough room left for desserts like Cheesecake or their Green Tea Smoothie. Edgewater at 5812 N Broadway, (773) 275-8797.

Chicago Diner
The Chicago Diner, known as “The Diner” to Chicagoans, is the most talked about place for vegetarian eats in the Windy City. Located in the heart of Boystown, Chicago’s LGBT neighborhood, the menu is entirely vegetarian, can be made vegan and offers raw options too. The Diner’s ambiance is complete with a friendly wait staff, booths, neon signs and fantastic milkshakes (may I suggest the Cookie Dough Supershake). Local favorites include the Vegan Reuben and the Gyro. Don’t forget to get a slice of raw or cooked Cheesecake. Every second Wednesday of the month, from 5pm to close, 10 percent of profits are donated to Mercy For Animals! 3411 N Halsted, (773) 935-6696, www.VeggieDiner.com.

Cousin’s I.V. (Incredible Vitality)
With the raw food movement growing in Chicago, Chef Mehmet Ak created this raw vegan restaurant and non-cooking school. The food is organic, delicious and full of live enzymes to give patrons the energy they need to face the hustle and bustle of Chicago’s busy streets. Cousin’s I.V. focuses on Mediterranean dishes including burritos, wraps, falafel and kofte kebobs. Or simply opt for the salad bar where the best of the menu can be sampled daily. 3038 W Irving Park, (773) 880-0063, www.CousinsIV.com.

Dharma Garden
Just down the street from Cousin’s is Dharma Garden, a mostly vegetarian Thai restaurant offering dozens of vegan options, from soups and salads to entrees. Try the Stir-fried Duck with Red Curry Paste and Basil or the Deep-Fried Tofu. If you enjoy your food spicy, Dharma Garden can kick up the heat. Smoothies make a great compliment to each meal. 3109 W Irving Park, (773) 588-9140, www.DharmaGarden.net.

Handlebar
Located in Wicker Park, Handlebar has plenty of vegan options including Black Bean Tostadas, Grilled Tofu Sandwich, BBQ Seitan and Wasabi Baked Tofu. Add your choice of beer and your meal is sure to please. And if you can handle a rich chocolate sauce, the Raspberry Torte is a great end. Plus everything vegan is clearly marked on their menu. So relax at the bar, comfortably perched on a stool made from recycled bicycle tires, or grab a table by the window and enjoy. 2311 W North Ave, (773) 384-9546, www.HandlebarChicago.com.

Karyn’s Cooked Conscious Comfort Foods
Karyn’s Cooked was created by a 30 year-long raw foodist. Located in the Gold Coast neighborhood, it offers all of your favorite dishes made vegan. Even non-vegetarians rave about Karyn’s Cooked, with Ribs and Meatloaf entrees sure to please the most devout meat-eaters. If you like it spicy, try the Jerk Tofu made as a sandwich or wrap. Plus, there are always raw options on the menu. Karyn’s also offers an excellent selection of wines and a variety pies, cakes and other delicious desserts. 738 N Wells St, (312) 587-1050, www.KarynsRaw.com.

Karyn’s Fresh Corner
The other side of Karyn is her passion for raw foods. Karyn’s Fresh Corner is reasonably priced gourmet, raw, vegan food served in an elegant atmosphere. Start off with a Sweet Mango Tango Soup and then dig into some Basil Scented Ravioli with Macadamia Whipped Creme. To quench your thirst, have a healthy Elixir. And don’t miss the Tiramisu layered with Carob Puree, Strawberries and Golden Flax Seed for dessert. You can also order a side of Enzymes or visit the Oxygen Bar, raw market and Karyn’s Inner Beauty shop. 1901 N Halsted St, (312) 255-1590, www.KarynsRaw.com.

Pick Me Up Café
Up late? Pick Me Up Café is a great place to grab a vegan bite to eat when other places have closed. Open 24 hours on the weekends, Pick Me Up serves breakfast all day and night, including Tofu Scram, Vegan French Toast and Pancakes. If you are looking for dinner, try the Moo-Free Pizza, a local favorite with whipped tofu on top. If you need a little something in your stomach after a night on the town, go for the Chili Fries. 3408 N Clark St, (773) 248-6613.

Soul Vegetarian East
On the South Side you’ll find this delicious, all-vegan Soul Food restaurant. One can’t visit Chicago without having some deep fried goodies. Everything you want from Southern vegetarian fare can be found here. When you ask a local about Soul Vegetarian, it’s all about the Greens and the Mac and Cheese. And Soul Vegetarian makes tofu as no one else in all Chicagoland. Try the Protein Tidbits and the Lasagna. Brunch is also offered on the weekends. 205 E 75 St, (773) 224-0104.

Veggie Bite
If you want to get a great sloppy sandwich that’s both delicious and cruelty-free, Veggie Bite is the place to go. On Chicago’s South Side, this all-vegan restaurant is “fast food” made healthy and served with a friendly smile. The all-natural menu features Tofu Burgers and Nuggets, Veggie Tacos, Chili Cheese Dogs, Chili Cheese Steaks, Gyros and Italian Beef Melts. For dessert, don’t miss soft serve soy ice cream created by Chicago’s own Chicago Soydairy. The Bite is owned and operated by active animal advocates and worthy of your support. Your tummy will thank you, too. 3031 W 111 St, (773) 239-4367, www.VeggieBite.net.

Daniel Hauff is the Director of Campaigns for Mercy For Animals, Chicago. To order a free copy of the Vegetarian Guide to Chicago and Surrounding Areas visit www.MercyForAnimals.org.

 

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