One Great Sandwich: Soul Vegetarian East's BBQ Twist

By Olivia Leigh in Food on Jan 30, 2008 5:00PM

bbq-140-2.jpgChicagoist's general rule toward our vegetarian tendencies is, if we wanted a dish-chock full of meat, we'd eat it. As such, plates full of fake meat masquerading as juicy animal parts (a vegan Reuben sandwich, for instance) generally hold little appeal, and we instead opt for dishes full of clearly identifiable veggies or simple marinated tofu.

That said, a recent sojourn to the south side neighborhood of Chatham might have made us a fake meat convert. Soul Vegetarian East, a well-known spot serving up plates of soul food seen through vegan lenses. Although we sampled a few of the restaurant's varied sandwich offerings, the waitress's recommendation of BBQ Twist ended up being the big winner. The fake meat at Soul Veg is unlike any we've sampled elsewhere--even in the huge, riblet-like chunks that are served up on a simple bun and topped with lettuce, the pieces maintained a surprisingly fibrous texture. BBQ pork and chicken sandwiches were popular in this writer's house growing up, but slathered in Soul Veg's sweet and mild BBQ sauce, this incarnation retains a chewy, juicy quality that we'd venture to guess could even convert our meat-loving parents.

Soul Veg's owners, African Hebrew Israelites, may maintain a vegan diet for religious reasons, but the food itself draws a wide range of diners to 75th street. Everyone from local businessmen to families; from U of C students to North Side vegans can be found at the simple tables and chairs in the modesty-decorated restaurant for cheap plates of favorites like collard greens, carrot supreme salad and veggie gyros. But don't let the promise of "vegan" food fool you into thinking this is necessarily diet food: if the greasiness of the delicious chicken nugget-esque "protein tidbits" are any indication, you might need to loosen up your belt if you're a regular visitor. But for vegetarians and vegans looking for a good guilty pleasure nosh, we'll see you at Soul Veg.

Soul Vegetarian East is located at 205 E 75th St.