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The Best Places To Eat Vegan Food In Chicago

PHOTO: Sandy Noto

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 actually, 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.

the spots

7.3
MAP

“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.

Photo: Christina Slaton

Handlebar

Wicker Park
2311 W. North Ave.

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.

Alice & Friends'

Edgewater
5812 N Broadway St

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.

Chicago House of 'Za

Lakeview
1416 W Irving Park Rd

As the name suggests, you should come here for one reason - pizza. In particular, deep dish pan-style pies. This is a counter service spot with limited seating, so it’s a good idea to order ahead and take your food to go. Each pie takes a while to prepare (they say 45 minutes and they mean it), and everything from the cashew-based cheese to the seitan toppings is made in-house. While it’s not as gooey as real cheese, the cashew cheese still has enough melty-ness that when combined with the sauce, it doesn’t feel totally inauthentic. This is definitely not healthy food, but if you’re a vegan Chicago native (or an NYC transplant who needs to expand your pizza repertoire), you should give it a try.

Bad Hunter

West Loop
802 W Randolph St
8.2
MAP

Bad Hunter might not be for you if you don’t want to be surrounded by other people eating meat. It’s a mostly vegetarian restaurant (with a seperate vegan menu) that doesn’t hesitate to put real bacon on a veggie burger when asked. But its vegan dishes, like coconut pasta and tempura broccoli, are seasonal and always delicious. It’s in the West Loop, and has a trendy, low-key feel. This spot is great for getting dinner with friends - even if they’re bacon-eaters.

Photo: sandy noto

Kitchen 17

Lakeview
613 W Briar Pl

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 Lakeview spot is BYOB, but the space feels like a bar (dark, with lots of wood and dim lighting). Just don’t look for a salad on the menu - you won’t find one.

Clever Rabbit

Wicker Park
2015 W Division St
7.3
MAP

A few years ago, vegetable-focused restaurants started popping up around Chicago, and Clever Rabbit was Wicker Park’s contribution. So most of the menu items are vegetarian or vegan, with dishes like carrot dumplings and braised mushroom fettuccine. But there are also some meat and fish dishes, which makes this a good place to come with a group that has mixed preferences. The space is casual, and there’s a large outdoor patio that’s good for warmer weather. Hang out there with a carrot margarita.

Sunda

River North
110 W Illinois St
8.5
MAP

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.

Mana Food Bar in Wicker Park is a vegetarian restaurant with a modern feel (the decor is minimal, consisting mostly of wooden tables and brick walls). Each dish can be ordered as a large or small option, so a good strategy is to come with a group and share. Order the sweet and sour tofu, sesame noodles, and the vindaloo, then prepare to fight over the last bite of all those things.

Girl & the Goat

West Loop
809 W Randolph St
8.8
MAP

Most of the restaurants on this guide are destination spots for vegan food. The Girl & The Goat is not one of those places. But it’s worth knowing about because it’s a very popular restaurant (known for having meat-heavy dishes like pig face) that also has a separate vegan menu. And the dishes on that menu really do hold their own against the regular menu items. The vegan menu isn’t long, but things like toasted tabouli and vegan adaptations of menu staples (for example, the roasted broccoli) are excellent. So if your non-vegan friends invite you here for a celebratory dinner in the West Loop, say yes.

Majani Restaurant

South Shore
7167 S Exchange Ave

Majani serves very good vegan soul food on the South Shore. This means entrees like BBQ cauliflower and jerk tofu, served 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.

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

River North
131 N Clinton St Ste 7

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. At least it tastes better than that steam-in-the-bag raw broccoli from the grocery store.

8.2
MAP

This is the Chinese restaurant from the same people who own Girl & The Goat, and like that spot, Duck Duck Goat has a separate menu for vegans. In this case, though, that menu is much more extensive. 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.

Kāl’ish

Uptown
1313 W Wilson Ave

Kalish is an all-day vegan comfort food spot in Uptown. They have burgers, pulled pork sandwiches made with jackfruit, and (seitan) chicken and waffles. Come here when you want to eat the kind of food that sends you right back to bed. The good news is that you can wake up and just come here again. If you want.

Urban Vegan

1605 W Montrose Ave
MAP

Urban Vegan is a vegan Thai restaurant in Ravenswood. It 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.

Ground Control

Logan Square
3315 W Armitage Ave

Everything about this place is what you’d expect from a vegetarian spot in Logan Square. It’s a laid-back, funky spot that’s decorated with touches of ’80s space nostalgia, and the menu is eclectic. There are appetizers like fried green tomatoes, plus sandwiches like a banh mi made with tofu and a torta ahogada with seitan. It’s great for a low-key dinner during the week, and on the weekends it’s open for lunch, too. The friendly service and great food make this a good contender for your new go-to neighborhood spot.

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