Our Fave “Vegetarian Food”

This week I asked the Chicago Metrobloggers about their favorite vegetarian food in Chicago. The fact that some of their responses began with something like “well, right now I’m eating a pound of bacon, but…” suggests next week’s topic to me. But here are our non-carnivore favorites:

Rob says:

I have to give Chicago Diner Lasagna Dinner with a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Vegetarian Shake on the side the ultimate props. It’s so damn good it’s wrong. The combination of fresh ingredients, great bread, and nice portion (not too big/small) put it at the top of my list.

Chicago Diner isn’t the cheapest but they work hard, the food is great, and the selection simply rocks. The biggest problem I have with being vegetarian is the limited selection I get at a “normal” restaurant.
Chicago Diner has about 20 or more things on the menu so even a vegan has a wide variety to pick from.

If I have less than 5 dollars to spend, I’d go with Irazu‘s veggie burrito to go with some El Ranchero chips (yep. the ones in the green bag.) from the grocery store (Del Rey is good but I like the tooth-breaking snap of the El Ranchero’s). Beware, though, Irazu closes at 9 PM.

Jennifer says:

Kashkeh Bodemjam at Reza’s on Clark (or Ontario.) Almost as much fun to say as it is to eat, and I’ll be damned, if it isn’t made out of Little Miss Muffet curds and whey. And garlic and eggplant. And mint. Mmmmmmmm. Get it with their dill rice and maybe follow it with Vegetarian Sampler #3. Can’t go wrong. Really, you can’t go wrong.

Lauren says:

I am not much for veggie food in general, although I don’t eat much meat either. Had you asked me a couple weeks ago, I would have said far and away the veggie samosas at Hema’s Kitchen, but I got violently ill last time I ate there. I will say, just as a general veggie item, that soyrizo might be one of the greatest things in the history of time. Mr. Man and I recently replicated Avec‘s chorizo stuffed Medjool dates at home with soyrizo, and they were beyond excellent.

Alana says:

I love vegetarians. They taste like chicken.

Steven says:

Morningstar Farms® Chik Patties® Breaded Veggie Patties, hands down. I am the most skeptical eater when it comes to “it tastes just like real meat” veggie food. I was blown away by how good these patties are.
Take ’em out of the oven, slap ’em on a bun with some mayo, lettuce and tomato and you’re set. You won’t be able to tell the difference, trust me. If you can, you have my permission to yell at me.

CP says:

Back in my idealistic high school days, I went vegetarian for about 4 years. I did not eat meat for “ethical” reasons and I was raised in a household of raw meat-eating T. Rex’s, so I assumed the role of the bastard Brontosaurus for a while. Even though I don’t eat it as often as I like, I’d have to say I’m a sucker for falafel. Not a whole lot beats going over to Sultan’s Market. Whenever I go over to a friends house in Wicker Park I always try to stop by to pick some spicy falafel stuffed in a pita. I’m not sure if it’s the best in the city but I love it. Any suggestions for good middle eastern food? Particularly Lebanese?

Nikkos says:

Thanks to CP for providing me with an opening – cuz frankly, I wouldn’t have the first clue as to a good veggie restaurant in the city. My little sister went through a vegan phase for a while, which required us to celebrate her birthday at a Buddhist, hence vegan, restaurant. I am an adventurous eater and rarely turn my nose up at anything, but for my money, if it doesn’t cast a shadow, it ain’t dinner.

As for Middle Eastern food, the BEST can be had at the Pita Inn. Yes, it’s outside the city limits. No, despite my incessant pleas they refuse to open a downtown location. That being said, their baba ghannoug is awesome, as is their falafel.

For the carnivores in the house, their shawarma sandwich is without peer. I have a friend that went to Egypt and Israel on kibbutz, and he claimed that the only shawarma he had that even came close was at some end-of-the-world shawarma stand in the Egyptian desert. This could have simply been a hallucination, so I’d recommend the Pita instead.

Tankboy says:

I eat lots and lots of meat. The way I figure it, I’d better eat as many cows as I can before they start to evolve, form opposable thumbs and then start hunting us. I’m just doing my part at keeping the human race on a slightly higher level of the food chain.

I guess that’s my way of saying I don’t really have anything of substance to offer this particular subject. Or maybe I do. Come to think of it, Russell’s Barbecue does serve up a mighty fine ear of corn. There! A vegetable I like! I knew I could do it…

Roderick says:

The only thing that I eat that doesn’t have meat in it are salads.

There. Salads.

Officer Gleason says:

On occasion I go on a quest to find the best type of food around. Pizza, Corn Beef Hash… Anyway, lately, I’ve been looking around Chicago for my favorite Chana Masala. I’ve been to Monsoon, Hemma’s Kitchen, Bhabi’s Kitchen and Gaylord India. So far, in my quest for the perfect Chana, I’ve found that Bhabi’s Kitchen, off of Devon, is quite possibly my favorite.

Fuzzy says:

For nine years before I moved to Chicago I was a vegetarian in a small-town where there were no vegetarian options other than grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries (sweet, sweet french fries) at the diner or pasta primavera at the “fancy” restaurants (damn you, pasta primavera!). So when I got to Chicago and there were entire restaurants for vegetarians, I was in heaven. The Blind Faith Cafe up in Evanston is my favorite.

Bhabi’s Kitchen
6352 N Oakley

Blind Faith Cafe
525 Dempster St
Evanston, IL

Chicago Diner
3411 N Halsted St

El Ranchero Food and Products
2547 S Kedzie Ave

Hema’s Kitchen
6406 N Oakley

1865 N Milwaukee Ave

Russell’s Barbecue
1621 N. Thatcher Ave.
Elmwood Park, IL

Pita Inn
3 suburban locations

3 locations

Sultan’s Market
2057 W North Ave

10 Comments so far

  1. Dunl (unregistered) on July 28th, 2005 @ 1:32 pm

    To the above fine (esp. Irazu, Chicago Diner, Blind Faith) selections, I’d add:

    The Handlebar

    2311 W. North Ave.




    Soul Vegetarian East

    203 E. 75th St.


    (Also, this Chicago Reader RestaurantFinder list may be informative…)

  2. julie (unregistered) on July 28th, 2005 @ 1:38 pm

    Szechwan Garden

    2901 N. Broadway Chicago, IL 60657


    typical chinese food but a huge gluten/seitan/tofu selection too. the sweet and sour soy gluten is the best food i have ever eaten in my entire life.

  3. Leelah (unregistered) on July 28th, 2005 @ 1:49 pm

    Don’t forget the fabulous (ok, it’s expensive, too) Green Zebra.

    1460 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, 60622

    (312) 243-7100


  4. Alana (unregistered) on July 28th, 2005 @ 3:06 pm

    And now I nominate THIS as the Tshirt of the week:


  5. Fuzzy (unregistered) on July 28th, 2005 @ 4:19 pm
  6. JenniferRoche (unregistered) on July 28th, 2005 @ 8:58 pm

    Hey, back to Green Zebra, Leelah — I have to disagree. We had a celebratory, specialy dinner there at the beginning of the year, and it was good, but not as splendid as all the rave, I thought. Have you gone recently? What dishes make you go back?

    I also wish I would have mentioned Amitabul, which used to be on Southport and then moved to the 6200 block of North Milwaukee. I think their stuff is every bit as creative, flavorful, and unique as Green Zebra. And, it’s super affordable.

  7. Heather (unregistered) on July 29th, 2005 @ 8:20 am

    Irazu’s is great for a simple Costa Rican-style vegetarian meal. The quality isn’t always consistent as they can get very busy … try them for lunch for quicker service and a quieter meal. My favorite is their vegetarian plate which changes daily and comes with a pile of spanish rice, black beans, plantains and cabbage salad topped with beets. Just as great is their vegetarian burrito or sandwich and of course the black bean tacos. A must is a side of tostones with garlic. Order a fruit drink to sip while you wait – you can order them made with milk or water. Really great salsa too.

  8. Mac (unregistered) on July 29th, 2005 @ 1:38 pm

    Dharma Gardens on Irving Park near Kedzie.

  9. Andrew (unregistered) on July 29th, 2005 @ 1:39 pm

    This is fantastic! I just moved to Chicago and was looking for good places with which to impress a mostly meatless friend and this hit the spot. I’ve now spent the better part of a few work days reading the archives. (Not that I would have done anything constructive with the time anyway…) I feel like I’ve read an insider’s guide to the whole city. I thought I was hot stuff finding the beery deliciousness of the Map Room on my own, but I’m finding that I don’t know crap! Wish I could contribute, but all I have at this point is questions.

  10. Dave (unregistered) on July 29th, 2005 @ 4:08 pm

    For years I avoided the Wishbone restaurants, because usually restaurants with the word “bone” in the name aren’t a good bet for vegetarians. But then I got dragged there on a work outing and discovered that Wishbone’s black bean cakes are one of the most delicious and filling veggie entrees in the city, and if you do dairy, the mac and cheese is heavenly. The sauteed spinach is excellent too, and the desserts are top notch. And you can even get brown rice there!

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