Heartland Cafe Rises Again With A New Menu And New Commitments

By Anthony Todd in Food on Nov 25, 2013 4:00PM

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The exterior of Heartland Cafe. Photo by Stephanie Barto

We've always had a soft spot for Rogers Park mainstay Heartland Cafe. It's was one of the early places to do interesting vegetarian-and-health focused food back when it opened more than 35 years ago. It's a fixture of the neighborhood, it hosts a zillion events and, sadly, it's been in financial trouble for years. Looks like things are about to change.

One of the reasons why Heartland has never seemed quite "with it" is that their definition of good eating—sustainable, healthy, vegetarian or however you define it - seemed stuck in time. As the entire world moved towards local, produce-focused food, Heartland, originally a step ahead of the competition, first became less special and then seemed downright behind the times.

The new managing partner of Heartland Cafe, Tom Rosenfeld, is a farmer himself, and products from his Earth First Farms will start to show up on the menu. The new chef, Kim Gracen, has redone the entire menu, and there are now vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options throughout. Heartland fans, don't worry; the classic chili, sweet potato fries and buckwheat pancakes are still on the menu.

The whole story about the ownership transition isn't out yet, though we're sure some enterprising journalist will dig it up. The new leaders insist that it will remain a community gathering place, and we hope they keep the feel of the cafe intact. The new menu begins on Dec. 2.