Go Green: 10 Great Plant-Based Eateries

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Chicago may be known for its deep dish pizzas, traditional hot dogs, and Italian beef but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer plenty of plant-based eateries. The city’s diversity extends to its food scene, and we’ve rounded up 10 great plant-based eateries across the city that offer vegetarian and vegan menus, from classic comfort food to traditional Latin and Ethiopian cuisine.

1. Chicago Diner

This Chicago classic isn’t award-winning for nothing. Meat free since ‘83, the Chicago Diner’s vegetarian and vegan foods include everything from poutine and Philly cheese steaks to Romanian tofu kabobs and gyros.  With locations in Logan Square and Lakeview, be sure to stop by and dine in or just stop by for a milkshake.  The Chicago Diner is open every day except Tuesdays.

2. Native Foods

If you’re looking for something more quick and casual, check out Native Foods. This plant-based restaurant’s menu includes burgers and other handheld sandwiches, salads, soups, desserts and more.  Originating in California, Native Foods has three Chicago locations in Lakeview, Hyde Park, and Wicker Park.

3. Alice & Friends

This vegan eatery on the northside was nominated for The Reader’s 2021 Best Vegan Restaurant.  In addition to offering both plant-based and seasonal menu items, this business is also women- and minority-owned.  Alice & Friends is open from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 12 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekends.

4. Smack Dab

If you’re craving comfort, this Rogers Park bakery offers something for everyone with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options.  Smack Dab was once a pop-up in a neighborhood bar, but it now has its own space on Clark and Pratt, serving a variety of breakfast and lunch options. They’re also known for their fun—and vegan—donuts. Flavors rotate daily but have previously included raspberry, passionfruit sprinkle, strawberry banana, and chai puppy chow.  Smack Dab is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. 

5. ALTHEA by Matthew Kenney

Under the direction of renowned chef and plant-based pioneer Matthew Kenney, ALTHEA offers a wide variety of organic, thoughtfully sourced and globally inspired ingredients.  Its guiding principle is that the future of food is plant based.  The menu includes fresh interpretations of traditional dishes as well as some of Kenney’s signature classics.

6. Veggie House

If you’re in the mood for Asian, try out the plant-based Veggie House. It’s Chinatown’s only vegetarian Chinese restaurant, and it has plenty of vegan options. Stick to classic crispy tofu dishes and veggie dumplings, or try their plant-based Mongolian beef and the fried mushrooms impersonating orange chicken.  Veggie House is open weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

7. Casa Yari

Casa Yari is a Latin restaurant with a unique flair. The restaurant’s executive chef and owner Yari Vargas taught herself to cook vegan and vegetarian dishes to offer at the restaurant.  Nearly every menu item can be made vegan. For example, you could replace the pika pika’s grilled chicken with banana blossoms or sliced seitan.  Casa Yari is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays through Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

8. Demera

Demera is an Ethiopian favorite in the city, growing in both popularity and prestige since its opening in 2007. The traditional Ethiopian menu also features a vegan section filled with lots of lentil, potato, and legume dishes.

9. Handlebar

Handlebar is yet another eatery in Wicker Park that serves vegetarian and vegan comfort food. The restaurant’s sustainability doesn’t end with its plant-based menu—it also recycles, brews fair-trade coffee, and serves organic and locally sourced eggs.  Handlebar is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.

10. True Food Kitchen

River North’s True Food Kitchen is an establishment focused on sustainability and wellness, with plenty of plant-based options for vegetarians and vegans. The spinach and mushroom pizza is a vegan fan favorite, but there are plenty of salads, grain bowls, burgers and sandwiches to choose from as well.

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