The 9 Best Vegan Restaurants In Chicago
Last year we here at Chicagoist offered our picks for the best vegan dishes in Chicago as a way of showing that switching to a meat, dairy and even egg-free doesn't have to be boring or bland on the palate.
This year we decided to expand on that a bit and offer our picks for the best vegan restaurants in the city. Some of them are old proven standbys that stick to their guns and let no meat or dairy reach their kitchens. Others on this list are more than willing to accommodate vegan customers. Most important, they make even the indiscriminate omnivores on Chicagoist's staff drool in anticipation.
We encourage you to offer your vegan restaurant picks in the comments.
This indiscriminate omnivore has been a fan of Dave Choi's cooking ever since his days at Jim's Grill in Lakeview a seeming lifetime ago. Choi still attracts a loyal, dedicated clientele at this "no meat, no egg, no dairy" restaurant in the shadows of Superdawg and Norwood Park. I've raved previously about Amitabul's "cure all" soup, "cure-all" soup, a spicy broth teeming with mushrooms, tofu, noodles, seaweed and vegetables that will have you sweating out of pores in your body that have been clogged for years. But Amitabul also offers a variety of soups, stews, dry pancakes and arguably the best bi bim bop in Chicago. If you're lucky, Choi will be in house, encouraging you to switch to a vegan lifestyle. the food is so tasty you may leave considering it. — Chuck Sudo
Amitabul is located at 6207 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Even limited to only raw plants, Chicago Raw creates some delicious treats. My favorite is the decadent carrot cake, made with fresh carrots, apricot, walnuts, and cinnamon. Grab a bag of coconut macaroons made with shredded coconut, almonds, maple and vanilla to take home.— Melissa McEwen
Chicago Raw is located in The French Market (131 N. Clinton St.).
A perfect stop for lunch after perusing the farmer’s market in Hyde Park, B’Gabs is not only animal-product free, but soy and gluten-free as well as raw. Their hearty burgers are made with healthy sprouted seeds and topped with a veritable garden of greens and other fresh vegetables. If that’s not enough vegetables for you, check out their deli selections such as kimchi and zesty jicama fries. Dessert-lovers will enjoy their raw “cheesecakes” made with coconut and cashews with an almond-date crust and topped with fruit. — Melissa McEwen
B’Gabs is located at The Experimental Station [6100 S. Blackstone Ave. (Green Door)]
A small and affordable nook dedicated to seitan, a vegan protein made of wheat that makes up for its unappealing name with plenty of flavor. Try it made into a pastrami on marble rye with agave mustard and sauerkraut. Or smoked into a bacon of sorts in their creamy bacon mac n’ cheese. If you aren’t in the mood for seitan, try their belgian waffle topped with fruit compote or banana split made with vegan soft serve. — Melissa McEwen
Upton’s Natural is located at 2054 W. Grand Ave.
Vegan can be a threatening word. People hear it and they think, “no taste, no fun.” I should know; I used to think that. I’m still on the fence about meatball substitutes, sorry. But I am into the vegan pastries and desserts at Delicious Café in North Center. For the “no taste, no fun” people I will say try the whoopie pie because “it doesn’t taste vegan.” To everyone else I will say try the whoopie pie because it’s two rich pieces of chocolate cake sandwiching a sweet, but not too sweet, creamy white filling. In addition to the pies, Delicious has a rotating assortment of desserts, breakfast and lunch sandwiches made to order, and an extensive coffee and tea selection. Grab a seat in the outdoor patio or sit along the counter facing Lincoln Avenue for some top-notch people watching to go with your “not vegan” vegan whoopie pie. — Allison Kelley
Delicious Cafe is located at 3827 N. Lincoln Ave..
Karyn’s On Green
Vegan dining in a meat-loving foodie town isn’t easy. Luckily Karyn’s on Green in fits all of your animal-free culinary cravings. Karyn’s takes an earth-friendly and vegan approach to classic American cooking, serving brunch, lunch and dinner items that are as satisfying as their cheese and meat-laden counterparts. Karyn’s also specializes in gluten-free, raw and seasonal eating. The food is bold and delicious, with imaginative options like fried “chicken” legs to more conventional meatless options like spicy basil tofu. I highly recommend the caramelized Brussels sprouts and the smoked carrots. — Erika Kubick
Karyn's on Green is located at 130 S. Green St.
Photo via Chicago Diner's Facebook page.
The Chicago Diner
The original Halsted Street location and its Logan Square sister restaurant offers the same smoky waffle fries and convincing vegan cheeses, but with the addition of a full-service bar. A little bit of truffle goes a long way to add richness to veggie dishes, and the portabella truffle melt stole my heart. Brunch is also worthwhile--the cinnamon roll French toast is the perfect sweet option, and Chicago Diner’s seitan sausage will satisfy even the die-hard carnivores at your table. —Lauren Larson
The Chicago Diner is located at 2333 N. Milwaukee Ave. and 3411 N. Halsted St.
Original Soul Vegetarian
Inspired by the African Hebrew Israelite beliefs of owner Prince Asiel Ben-Israel, "Soul Veg" has proven for decades one needn't go low on the hog to enjoy quality soul food. Their menu ranges across a wide cross-section of culinary styles including Mediterranean, Asian, Southern, and good old-fashioned American cooking. Even an indiscriminate omnivore like me can enjoy Soul Veg's Sloppy Joe (made with seitan and served on a whole wheat roll), steamed vegetables and tofu served up so many different ways you'll forget you aren't eating meat. — Chuck Sudo
Original Soul Vegetarian is located at 205 E. 75th St.
Devon Avenue has a spoil of wonderful Indian restaurants to choose from but one of my favorites is this one a couple blocks west of Western Avenue. Although Uru Swati is a vegetarian restaurant, their South Indian menu, comprising of a variety of dosas, umpas and vadas, is completely vegan. The rest of their menu can also be prepared for vegan predilections, expertly, with a simple request to your servers. —Chuck Sudo
Uru Swati is located at 2629 W. Devon Ave.