13 Restaurants Perfect For Vegetarians
The best Chicago restaurants for vegetarian food.
In some cities, the restaurant outlook for vegetarians is bleak. But a ton of interesting vegetarian (or mostly-vegetarian) spots have opened in Chicago recently, joining reliable favorites we’ve known about for years. This is our guide to the best places, new and old, for vegetarians and vegans—as well as the meat-eating friends they know, love, and still want to eat out with.
Consider it a vegetarian hit list, and enjoy.
Indienne, an Indian restaurant in River North, definitely falls into the fine dining category. Its large dining room is full of white tablecloths and staff bustling around in crisp jackets, and the menu’s dishes are plated artistically. Most of the food has some kind of French twist, so you’ll find things like katsu jackfruit sauced tableside, and eclairs filled with goat cheese and topped with truffle. Indienne has a seven-course vegetarian tasting menu for around $90, or you can order a la carte.
photo credit: Jack Li
Bloom Plant Based Kitchen
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.
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1308 in Goose Island closes at 9pm, has a great Happy Hour, and is exactly the kind of chill place you want to decompress after forgetting to turn your microphone off during this morning’s company-wide Zoom. This little bar and restaurant calls itself a “speak eatery”, which is kind of cute and spot on. It’s hidden in the courtyard of a small office building, only has about 30 seats, and serves outstanding cocktails and great mostly-vegetarian Southern-inspired food. Standout dishes on the short, delicious menu include crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside hot water cornbread served with blueberry butter and pimento cheese, and an absurdly good plate of grits and sweet roasted carrots topped with crunchy dukkah.
Eathai is a cute little Thai spot in the Logan Square. And like the ‘96 Bulls, its menu is a roster of nothing but standouts, almost all of which can be made vegetarian. 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.
photo credit: Derrick Koch
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.
Left Coast Food & Juice
Left Coast is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and everything on the menu sounds like something you plan on eating when you finally make it to that yoga retreat in California. You’ll find stuff like tofu wraps, grain bowls, and avocado toast with orange slices, ricotta, and sunflower seeds. They have two locations (one’s in River North), but we prefer the Lakeview space for its beach house feel and outdoor patio.
photo credit: Christina Slaton
True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen is a sit-down spot in River North that’s great for a healthy lunch or dinner during the week, but also nice enough to be a weekend evening option. Come for sweet potato grain bowls, spaghetti squash casserole, and quinoa burgers. Many of the dishes here are gluten free as well as dairy free, and there’s an interesting cocktail menu, not to mention some sort-of-healthy desserts. Take your SoulCycling boss here while she’s in town.
“Meat Free Since ’83.” That’s the motto at the Chicago Diner, which first opened up in Lakeview and now has a second location in Logan Square. Both are worth visiting, and whether you’re looking for something vegetarian or vegan, you’ll find plenty of options. There’s a massive diner-style menu that even has some good fake-meat options. (We’re not saying go on a seitan-only diet, but the seitan gyro here is pretty good, and this is coming from people who like real gyros.) Make sure you get a vegan milkshake, too - they’re really good.
Cumin is a restaurant in Wicker Park serving Nepalese and Indian food. The menu is so long that it’s impossible not to find something you like, and there’s an extensive vegetarian section with options like vegetable pakora, samosas, and too many entrees to list. White tablecloths and a full bar make it a good choice for date night, or a nice weekend dinner with friends.
Come to Urban Vegan in Lakeview for some very good Thai vegan food. You’ll find dishes like tofu satay, Thai basil with soy chicken, and a number of excellent curries. It’s a small sit-down spot that gets crowded fast, so consider getting takeout.
Five dollars can’t get you much these days, besides street parking in Lincoln Park for 30 minutes—and an awesome vegetarian Pakistani-Indian meal at Ghareeb Nawaz. This Devon Street favorite is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and everything on the menu is good, fast, and affordable. Try the channa masala.
All raw everything. That’s what’s happening at Chicago Raw—fully uncooked, 100% plants. Try something creative, like a garden burger with “the ultimate ratio of seeds and vegetables without an ounce of oil or nuts,” or just eat a basic kale salad with lemon dressing and avocado like we often do.
Demera is one of the best Ethiopian spots in town. The way to do it is go with a few other people and order one of their vegetarian Messob options, which is a communal dining situation that lets you try a bunch of different dishes. It's all served on a big round of fantastic injera, which is made fresh daily. Come with a mid-sized group, and be prepared to share.