B'Gabs Goodies: One Love, One New Location

By Carrie Laski in Food on Feb 26, 2015 5:00PM

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A selection of goodies. Photo credit: Carrie Laski

"Corporate vegan" may sound like an oxymoron to some, but with the expansion of popular vegan fast casual restaurant Native Foods to around 25 locations nationwide (and growing), the term is anything but inaccurate. Just step into the Loop location at lunchtime and behold the snaking line of power-suit and high-heel clad professionals if you need proof.

Veganism is on the rise and vegan-friendly products are more accessible than ever. This is good news for those who follow a strict plant-based lifestyle and feel isolated by their limited choices. However, many people (including vegans) are taking issue with the proliferation of ‘fake meat’ and mass-produced, sugar-laden, pre-packaged vegan substitutes. They wonder if the movement is losing its core values.

Then there’s B’gabs Goodies (1450 E. 57th St.), a raw, vegan juice bar and cafĂ© with a newly opened location right across from Powell’s Books in Hyde Park. Their aim is to promote a holistic, clean lifestyle by offering high-quality, nutritious vegan cuisine that is free from soy, gluten and over-processing. This means no meat substitutes, no additives and instead a focus on legumes, nuts, seeds, spices and fresh fruit and vegetables. Every ingredient is listed on the menu so you know exactly what you’re getting. With a mission statement like “It’s not the food in your life, it’s the life in your food,” they are truly going back to the basics of nourishment, and in doing so are creating something entirely different.

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Chili Tacos, Cauliflower Salad, and greens. Photo credit: Carrie Laski

B’Gabs’ food menu offers made-to-order sandwiches like the Chipotle Burger, made with a spicy seed patty and tons of fresh greens, cucumbers, avocado, tomato and more, all piled on house-made bread, and a Pad Thai Salad with zucchini and carrot noodles with almond dressing. Also excellent are the Chili Tacos, made with nuts and vegetables, topped with avocado and sunflower seed cheese and nestled in bright purple cabbage leaves. Sides include Cayenne Chili Jicama Fries and a wonderful Cauliflower Salad with raisins and cashew cream. Some experimentation with cooked foods is in the works, possibly prodded by recent frigid temps, so stay tuned for menu updates.

The juice and smoothie bar is a significant part of B’Gabs’ business, and the vast beverage menu includes options like the Sweet Serena juice with kale, ginger, apple, lemon and cucumber or the Fiji Hammer Time smoothie with peach, banana, strawberry, maca root and yohimbe bark. Also available are hot teas, lemonade and kombucha.

So what are the “goodies” at B’Gabs? Almond Silk Chocolate Cheesecake, Lemon Squares, Brownie Bites and more, all raw and all sweetened with dates, coconut, cacao and other wholesome ingredients. In addition to food and beverage, B’Gabs also sells incense, dried herbs, teas, spices, shea butter, various oils and even some handmade jewelry from local artists. The sense of community is strong here and it is clear that the owners’ hearts are very much dedicated to the work they are doing.