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Eat Green at Blue Elephant

By John DiGilio in Food on Aug 12, 2011 7:00PM

Any illusions we ever had about Chicago not being a great city for vegetarians have slowly been cast aside. It seems that the more we explore the culinary highways and byways of the Windy City, the more superb meat-free fare we find. It seems that there's a nice vegetarian surprise around almost every corner. Our latest came from a little place on Devon in Rogers Park. Blue Elephant is a little Thai restaurant that is small on space, but big on fresh vegetarian taste.

A stone's throw from the Loyola campus, Blue Elephant eagerly welcomes meatless diners. They specialize in noodles, curries, and an eclectic mix of Asian dishes, almost all of which can be made with either tofu or veggies alone. Most entrees come in at under nine dollars each and are nicely portioned. You can throw in an appetizer and drink and still come out under $20. On weekdays, Blue Elephant offers a special lunch menu that gets you a noodle bowl and an appetizer for only $6.95. You have to get there by 3:00 PM to take advantage of this, however.

We paid Blue Elephant a visit over an early lunch. Given our timing, the crowd was sparse, but the service eager and friendly. We started with the Roti and Mussamun Curry appetizer. A flavorful stew of carrots, potatoes, spices, and coconut, it was served in a deep bowl with plenty of roti triangles for dipping. It really whet our appetites! For entrees, we ordered the Mussamun Curry proper (no, we could not get enough of it) and a Thai Fried Rice. Of course the Mussamun was just as excellent the second time around, only in a much larger portion. The real standout, however, was the fried rice. It was light, fresh, and delicious. This heaping helping of jasmine rice was stir-fried with egg, onions, carrots, snow peas and tofu and was perfectly seasoned. Until we got through it all, there was no room for dessert. We are not complaining, of course.

Part of the joy of being a foodie in Chicago is being able to explore the sights, smells, and tastes of the city's many diverse and wonderful neighborhoods. You just never what you are going to find when you let your nose and your tummy chart the course. Blue Elephant was not only a sweet find, but is likely a new favorite. If only all of our travels ended so well!

Blue Elephant is located at 1235 West Devon Avenue.