Ryan Adams gets it.
I'm going to visit Chicago in 8 days, for the first time since I moved back to California, a year and a half ago. From Chicago, I'm going on a road trip to Austin, TX for SXSW. Talk about an adventure! And it just so happens my travel mate is also a vegan. Two vegans, on the road, through the south. Wonder how that will turn out? Conveniently for us, a few popular fast food chains have vegan options - Subway, Panera, Taco Bell....we won't starve. I refuse to live on potato chips, chips of any kind for that matter, or french fries. And that's that. I have a figure to maintain!
Chicago has the best vegan options at restaurants that I have ever had (sorry SF!), and I can't wait to get back there! In an ideal world I would be able to eat at both Gracias Madre (SF) and The Handlebar (Chicago) whenever I wanted.
My favorite restaurants in Chicago include:
The Handlebar - By far, my favorite restaurant in Chicago, and it's vegetarian at that! I like the crowd of bike messengers, punk rockers and hipsters. Downtown Brown on tap (yo, Humboldt County), vegan ranch, samosas, a buffalo 'chicken' wrap, BBQ seitan sandwich...I miss it so!
Sultan's Market - Vegan spinach pie and a falafel sandwich that only costs $3.75?! I have had one falafel sandwich since moving to SF and was so extremely disappointed I haven't had one since. Sultan's Market has ruined me for life, in the best way possible.
The Bourgeois Pig - I worked here as a Barista on nights and weekends! Great people and awesome food. The sandwiches are phenomenal. Sun dried tomato bread, with basil hummus and an assortment of veggies-yes please. Plus, my good friend Stephanie works the line - all the more reason to stop in. I was also a big fan of the mint mocha with soy milk. More tea varieties than I have ever seen offered, anywhere, and the owner is going for a very old European vibe. So...the DePaul kids love it and I'm sure you can imagine that I was thrilled to wait on those stingy tippers.
Lula Cafe - eclectic cafe located in the heart of Logan Square (my old neighborhood!). I know it's a good idea to try new things, but once I had their Peanut Butter and Tineka sandwich, with spicy soy sauce, tomato, red onion and cucumbers, I never looked back. They are known for their seasonal, organic menu.
Veggie Bite - Organic, vegan fast food. I swear, their cheeseburger tastes like a regular meat burger. I can't even describe how happy that makes me. I've heard incredible things about everything on the menu, but I have to say I have only ever ordered the cheeseburger. Boring! Haha, that's okay with me!
The Chicago Diner - Another restaurant I have worked for. As a baker. I've had pretty much everything on this menu and it's all phenomenal. The items that really stick out for me include the Green 'Eggs and Ham' (add soy mozz), the mushroom, spinach and soy mozz quesadilla, the bbq bacon burger, the pumpkin ravioli, the huevos a la Mexicana! Don't be fooled by veganism, nothing on this menu is healthy. Except maybe the raw food options and desserts, which they do really, really well. I can't ever show my face here again, though. I'm too embarrassed after an incident involving a street fair, an empty stomach and too much free champagne. Definitely shot myself in the foot with that one.
On a side note, I have a strong aversion to reading restaurant reviews written by most amateurs (Yelp, I blame you for this phenomenon - my morbid curiosity usually ends up getting the best of me and I read anyway ). I despise reading them, they gross me out. I hate the adjectives people use to describe what they are tasting, I'm disgusted at seeing the word 'drooling' used so many times, I dislike reading about people tearing their server a new one. I tried to make my descriptions as painless as possible for both you and I. Basically, if you are in Chicago, you NEED to go to these places. Just don't expect your hipster server to give you the time of day, and you'll be fine! Just kidding hipster servers-I feel you.