Believe it or not, before I read the book that changed my life and led me to a plant-based diet, I scoffed at the idea of going to a vegan restaurant. I so clearly remember, back when I lived in Chicago, the night my friend suggested we check out The Chicago Diner, a famous Chicago vegan restaurant. My response was, “No way. WTF would I order at a vegan restaurant?!” Pretty crazy how much things can change! I recently got back from a quick trip to Chicago and, with a whole new mindset, got to try out some of the delicious vegan-friendly juice bars and restaurants popping up around the city. Today I’m highlighting some of my Chicago favorites here on the blog.Who doesn’t love nachos? Especially when they’re loaded with so much deliciousness like the ones above. My sister introduced me to Native Foods Cafe and we both thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate. The nachos were delicious and came with cashew cheese instead of dairy cheese. The chipotle sauce was also delicious and I loved that the nachos were loaded with so many toppings. Next time I visit Native Foods Cafe I will definitely be ordering the nachos again.Native Foods Cafe also serves vegan “chicken” that will really blow your mind. It tastes exactly like chicken but it’s completely made out of plants like soy, wheat, peas and seasoning. Vegan meats don’t make up a big part of my diet, but when you’re in the mood for them this is a great place to go. Pictured above is my sister’s favorite, the twister wrap. It comes with fresh baby greens, cucumber salsa, avocado, crispy (or grilled or buffalo) “chicken” with a creamy ranch dressing. Native Foods is also great if you’ve never had vegan food before because you’ll be able to order things that are familiar to you – just vegan!
One morning I stopped by Harvest Juicery near the Fulton District. It’s a super cute, clean, bright space that offers juices, nut milks, smoothies and some plant-based eats too. Their juice combos are really unique and healthy. Some of those unique juice flavors include fennel juice with orange, lemon and mint and melon juice made with cantaloupe, honeydew, lime, cilantro and lemongrass. They also offer pitaya bowls too!Left Coast Food & Juice is one of my new favorite lunch spots in Chicago. It’s a California-inspired restaurant that offers clean healthy eats in another super cute spot. The acai bowl pictured above was fantastic. It had everything I want in a smoothie bowl.The hermosa avocado toast at Left Coast was also fabulous. It comes with toasted semolina bread, smashed avocado, mojo rojo, basil and red onion. Definitely order it if you find yourself at Left Coast! You can see our whole Left Coast spread below. YUM!
I fell in love with this blue magik drink from Real Good Juice Co located in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. Not only does it taste amazing and look beautiful with those all natural blue hues, but it’s so good for you too! This drink gets its color from blue spirulina, which is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It contains over 65 good-for-you vitamins, minerals and nutrients including B vitamins, bio-available iron, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, antioxidants and omega-3s, to name just a few. It helps with everything from detoxing our bodies of heavy metals to treating allergies and lowering cholesterol. Who knew such a pretty drink could pack such a healthy punch?!
Chicago is also now home to Bad Day Donuts, a 100% vegan donut shop. I first heard of Bad Day Donuts when my sister went to the Chicago Vegan Food & Drink Festival where she said the lines for the donuts were a hundred people deep throughout the whole event! She didn’t get to try them that day so I knew we would have to check them out while I was in town. The dough of these donuts was absolute perfection. You would never ever know that they were any different from “regular” donuts. Bad Day Donuts doesn’t have a brick and mortar location yet, so you can order donuts by the dozen or find them at street fairs, festivals, pop-up shops and farmers markets around Chicago.
And there you have it! Some of my favorite vegan eats from my recent trip to Chicago. Comment below with your favorite Chi City veg-friendly places for next time!