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How To Be A Vegetarian At 6 Of Chicago's Best Steakhouses

By Chicagoist_Guest in Food on Apr 5, 2016 2:11PM

Chicago’s steakhouse scene is booming right now, which is great for carnivores but daunting at best for their vegetarian counterparts. Ordering a hulking, perfectly cooked steak drenched in béarnaise is a given for the former, but what meat-free options exist for the latter? We delved into the menus at several local steakhouses and discovered six spots with winning meatless entrees sure to impress even the most skeptical vegetarians.

By Kailley Lindman

The Boatload of Veggies at River Roast. Photo courtesy of River Roast.

Parisian Gnocchi at Community Tavern

The boutique-y steakhouse in Portage Park may be best known for its reasonably priced steaks, but its comforting Parisian gnocchi is a hearty option for those who prefer to go meat-free. The pasta is tossed in nutty brown butter and mixed with roasted root vegetables, goat cheese, basil, and pickled mushrooms that cut through the richness of the dish; pair it with a beet and burrata salad and a side of fried cauliflower for a complete meal.

Community Tavern is at 4038 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Eggplant Parmigiana at Gene and Georgetti

Thanks to strong Italian roots, this old school establishment has a lot more to offer than just its signature broiled steaks and chops, including a robust order of cheese-laden eggplant Parmesan that tastes just like your Italian Nonna’s heirloom recipe. There are also plenty of vegetarian-friendly pasta options and vegetable sides if eggplant just isn’t your style.

Gene And Georgetti is at 500 N. Franklin St.

Gnocchi at Community Tavern. Photo courtesy of Community Tavern.

Pappardelle Pasta at David Burke’s Primehouse

This River North mainstay serves masterful dry-aged steaks, but the pasta option under the “Ocean Treats & Non Meats” portion of the menu is no less impressive. The sizable dish of ribbon-like noodles is amped up with squash, walnut, and pecorino, which impart earthy flavors and plenty of texture. Team it with broccolini with Parmesan, chili flake, and egg yolk for a balanced meal.

David Burke's Primehouse is at 616 N. Rush St.

Spicy Fried Tofu at Roka Akor

Between melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef and breathtaking sashimi platters, this Japanese steakhouse is a veritable meat-lovers paradise, so what’s a vegetarian to do? Dig in to the spicy fried tofu with avocado, Fresno chili, and aioli dressing, that’s what. The tongue-tingling dish goes great with other vegetarian plates, like forest mushroom salad with truffle barley miso vinaigrette and steamed edamame, too.

Roka Akor is at 456 N. Clark St.

Boatload of Veggies at Boatload of Veggies at River Roast

Though not technically a steakhouse, this riverside tavern and roaster is nothing if not meat-focused, and navigating ones way through all the protein-rich offerings can prove challenging. Fortunately, chefs Tony Mantuano and John Hogan have strategically complemented their famous wood-smoked whole chicken and cider-brined pork rack with an equally colossal and aptly named “Boatload of Veggies.” The filling entrée changes at the season’s whim; the current iteration showcases roasted winter squash seasoned with orange, star anise, and cinnamon and served with Brussels sprouts, pearl onions, carrots, parsnips, and celeriac.

River Roast is at 315 N. LaSalle St.

Paella Vegetariana at Las Tablas

Enjoy a far from ordinary vegetarian twist on paella at this alluring Colombian steakhouse. The rice-based dish is flavored with criolla sauce, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, yucca, potatoes, and green plantains, and is available at both the Lakeview and Irving Park location.

Las Tablas is located at 2942 N. Lincoln Ave. and 4920 W. Irving Park Rd.