CHIGuide

The Best Places To Eat Vegan Food In Chicago

Our favorite restaurants serving vegan food across the city.
The Best Places To Eat Vegan Food In Chicago  image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Chicago is known for deep dish pizzas and strong opinions on how people should eat their hot dogs. So it’s understandable if you think it might be hard to find good vegan food here. But that really isn’t the case. We have a lot of great vegan-friendly restaurants serving everything from healthy and unprocessed options to not-so-healthy comfort food. So if you want to, you can in fact get vegan deep dish pizza and a vegan Chicago-style tofu sandwich—which technically isn’t a hot dog, but we’ll take it. Here are the best places to eat those things (and other vegan dishes of all kinds) across the city.

Looking for vegetarian food? We have a guide for that, too.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Jack Li

Vegetarian

Wicker Park

$$$$Perfect For:BYOBCasual Weeknight DinnerGluten-Free Options
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Just like how DARE called marijuana a gateway drug back in the '90s, we’re calling Bloom a gateway restaurant. The vegan food at this Wicker Park spot is so good, it has the power to become anyone’s favorite restaurant, whether they eat exclusively plant-based or not. The menu is full of complex, vegetable-focused hits. Like the banana blossom-filled tamal topped with a rich mole, mushroom asada tacos, and yucca gnocchi that we’re praying never comes off the menu. There’s a long list of vegan cocktails (the pisco sour uses soy protein instead of egg white), everything is gluten-free, and the restaurant is full of groups having what appears to be a great time. After a trip here you’ll be planting a rooftop garden complete with a beehive in no time.

We’re fans of all the vegan choices at Demera, an Ethiopian spot in Uptown. The list is long and clearly marked, with things like the shirro (a chickpea stew) and the misserana bowmia (lentils and okra in a spicy berbere sauce). But our favorite way to try everything is to order the sampler. That way you get to choose five vegan side dishes for $15, all served on a big round of fantastic injera, which is made fresh daily. And the food is so good, even the non-vegans of the group will be happy to share.


This Asian-fusion vegan spot in River North is the rare plant-based restaurant where the food is really good and enough of a scene to earn its downtown address. Planta Queen (which has locations in Miami, Toronto, and New York) is sleek, has a thump-y music playlist that may briefly make you consider going clubbing afterward, and the long menu is full of dishes that are objectively tasty—whether you’re vegan or not. There’s spicy tuna nigiri made with spicy dehydrated watermelon, jackfruit chicken wings that somehow mimic crispy skin, and firm udon noodles swimming in an unbelievably silky truffle mushroom cream sauce. The large space has plenty of seats for couples, but also enough big booths for a group of friends.


Eathai is a cute little Thai spot in Logan Square. And like the ‘96 Bulls, its menu is a roster of nothing but standouts, almost all of which can be made vegan. That said, there are a few dishes you focus on. In particular, we like the curry puffs, the wonderfully sweet and spicy khao soi, and the fantastic pad see ew–which has perfectly chewy noodles lightly coated in a not-too-sweet sauce. The restaurant is small and brightly lit, but our favorite place to sit here is when we can sit on their quiet, colorful sidewalk patio.


As the only vegetarian Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, Veggie House is a must-visit. The menu is long, with a lot of vegan options, too. To help you narrow things down, our favorite dishes at this casual spot are the orange chicken (mushrooms fried in an everlastingly crispy batter and drizzled with a sweet and tangy glaze) and the Mongolian beef, which layers a savory soy sauce on top of plant-based strips acting as tender beef doppelgängers.


Casa Yari is a small Latin American BYOB restaurant in Logan Square with friendly service and excellent entrees, many of which can be made vegan using seitan or jackfruit as a meat substitute. We suggest ordering one of the mofongos–garlicky mountains of mashed plantains topped with—and then finishing the meal with their flan, also available as a vegan option.


We’ll say it: Healthy Substance is not a very appealing name—it sounds more like item #D3 in a futuristic vending machine than a great vegan Mexican spot in Garfield Ridge. But don’t let that deter you, because the food here is fantastic. Everything from the shredded cashew cheese to the spicy al pastor, chorizo, and steak is made in-house, and none of it feels overprocessed. Plus, the space is cute—bright and decorated with pictures of historical activists and Joaquin Phoenix.


Chicago has plenty of food halls, but XMarket in Uptown is the only exclusively vegan one. The massive space has seven vendors, a coffee shop, a full bar, and tons of tables. And the wide variety of food stalls means there’s something for everybody—from smoky mushroom tacos at El Hongo Magico, to juicy Italian “beef” from Chicago Not Dogs, to savory eggplant “unagi” nigiri from Bloom Sushi. Plus, with a full grocery section, you can also pick up that vegan cheese your neighborhood grocery store never seems to have.


Kale My Name in Albany Park has tons of utility. It’s open daily from 11am-10pm, has a full bar, and serves weekend brunch too. The space easily transitions from a bright cafe during the day to a dimly lit dinner spot at night, and the sprawling dining room has plenty of tables. Plus, the food is good. The long menu has everything from salads and seitan wraps, to delicious fried things like cauliflower chicken wings and mac and cheese balls. It's not a bunch of frankenfood masquerading as meat (though you can find some of that if you want) and a lot of the dishes are gluten and soy free.


“Meat Free Since ’83” is the motto at the Chicago Diner, which has two locations - the Lakeview original, and a newer one in Logan Square. Both are very casual, and each is worth visiting (just know that the smaller Lakeview location gets more crowded). There’s a long menu with a lot of diner-style vegan options, like a reuben sandwich made with seitan and a lentil mushroom loaf. Whatever you order, get a chocolate peanut butter milkshake to go with it.


Handlebar is a mostly vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Wicker Park, and it’s an enjoyable place to eat, drink, and hang out. The menu is heavy on comfort food—so there’s a buffalo seitan wrap with ranch dressing and a Chicago-style tofu dish that’s inspired by our city’s obsession with hot dogs. Come here for a casual weeknight dinner, and in the summer, make sure to sit in the beer garden out back.


Lucy’s feels like a small-town cafe that was teleported to Roscoe Village. It’s the type of place where decorative punny signs make you wonder if it’s a Home Goods-sponsored restaurant while you sit in a comfy booth and the staff has a quick stop-and-chat with regulars. And not only is the vegetarian food here good—most of it can also be made vegan. The menu has plenty of tasty breakfast dishes like fluffy french toast flights or soy sausage breakfast burritos, plus lunchier options like “chicken” wraps and Impossible burgers.

Kitchen 17′s menu is another good reminder that not all vegan food is supposed to be healthy. Don’t come here looking for something light, because what you’ll find is vegan bar food like pizza, nachos, and burgers. Everything tastes good—their housemade seitan in particular has a great texture. This spot recently relocated to Avondale, where they were able to expand with two stories and a full bar.


This spot is Temporarily Closed.

$$$$Perfect For:BYOBVegetarians

This casual vegan restaurant in Edgewater, with motivational quotes like “share the world with all beings” on the wall, is probably exactly what your non-vegetarian friends expect a vegan restaurant to be like. The Asian-inspired food is great—for example, the seitan skewers, marinated in turmeric and other spices, are moist and flavorful. Plus, they have a fantastic shrimp substitute (add it to the spring rolls). The fact that you can BYOB also doesn’t hurt.


As the name suggests Penelope's, a casual Mexican spot in River North, is vegan. And their variety of dishes, from burritos to chilaquiles, will make even the most meat-centric eater second guess the vegan-ness of it all. Our favorites are the Beyond Meat asada tacos, and the enchiladas. These crisp, rolled tortillas come loaded with spiced potatoes, and are topped with spicy red salsa and smooth vegan sour cream. Come in for a relaxed solo bite or to just grab some takeout.


It’s not the most subtle name, but it definitely gets the point across. This counter-service spot in Hyde Park focuses on plant-based comfort food, meaning you can get things like nachos, a Philly cheesesteak, and chicken and waffles, and everything can be made vegan. Just know that this place is very small with limited seating, so plan on getting your vegan pizza puffs to go.


B’Gabs is another spot in Hyde Park, but this cafe focuses on healthy vegan options for breakfast and lunch. Almost everything is made on-site, and the menu includes lots of fruits and vegetables along with plenty of gluten-free and raw dishes, too. You’ll find things like smoothie bowls, breakfast scrambles made with chickpeas, and a zucchini noodle pad thai salad. Everything tastes light and healthy-ish, and it’s a good way to balance out the vegan pizza puffs you’ve been eating.


Majani serves very good vegan soul food on the South Shore. This means entrees like BBQ cauliflower and jerk tofu, along with sides of cornbread, greens, and black-eyed peas. The space is small and upbeat, full of reclaimed wood and tall windows that let a bunch of light in. This is a great spot on the Southside for lunch or dinner, even if you weren’t already in the neighborhood. Make sure to get a piece of carrot cake.


The food at Amitabul in Norwood Park can best be described as nourishing, and we mean that in the best way. This cute, casual spot makes “spiritual vegan Korean cuisine” which, we admit, sounds a little woo woo. That said, we’ve yet to order something here that didn’t make us feel swaddled in our childhood blankys, and like we just took our vitamins. From spicy soups filled with rice cakes to mandoo dumplings with housemade miso sauce, everything is warm, flavorful, and crammed full of vegetables. The quiet space is relaxing, and a great choice for a weekday dinner after a busy day.


If you’re vegan and want to have dinner in a sceney River North spot, go to Sunda. This Asian fusion restaurant is another non-vegan place that has a separate vegan menu. You can get sushi rolls, tofu pad thai, and a version of their crispy brussels sprout salad. Will it be loud and crowded? Yes. But that’s why you’re in River North.


True Food Kitchen is a sit-down spot in River North that works well for lunch or dinner during the week, but is also nice enough to be a weekend evening option. They have lots of dietary restrictions covered—so there are vegan dishes like butternut squash pizza and quinoa grain bowls, and many things on the menu are also gluten-free.


Chicago Raw is (unsurprisingly) a 100% raw restaurant. Everything here is vegan, and even if you’re not keeping a raw diet, the food is worth seeking out. They have a pad thai dish that’s fantastic (it’s made from kelp noodles), and ravioli made with shaved turnip and cashew cheese. There are two locations, one in River North and one in the French Market. Just be aware that everything here is expensive.


The Original Soul Vegetarian, a vegan Southern and soul food restaurant, has been “serving food as medicine” in the Chatham area for 40 years. But they recently renovated and revamped, and are now known as Soul Veg City. Family-owned and operated, Soul Veg City provides a takeout or dine-in experience, with deli-style dishes and a $9.95 per pound hot station. That’s where you can get dishes like smothered seitan steak and gravy, cornbread dressing, and delicious vegan mac and cheese.


This is the Chinese restaurant from the same people who own Girl & The Goat, and Duck Duck Goat has a separate menu for vegans. And this is where you go for a fun night out. You’ll be eating dishes like pecan cauliflower and glass noodles in a blueberry sauce. The bigger tables with lazy Susans make it easy to share a lot of things, so go with a big group if you want to try as much as possible.


This vegan Thai restaurant in Ravenswood used to mainly be a carryout spot, but now it’s a full sit-down restaurant. You’ll find dishes like tofu satay, soy chicken with peanut sauce, and a number of curries. It’s a fantastic neighborhood option for vegan Asian food.

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