Chicago, The Windy City Caters To The Vegan Lifestyle

By on January 21, 2015
Chicago Vegan Restaurants

When out-of-towners think of Chicago comfort food, they generally think of Chicago style deep-dish pizza or their famous all-beef hot dogs on a poppy seed bun. As a matter of fact, the Windy City has more hot dog establishments than they do fast-food franchises such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King combined. However, Chi-Town is equally equipped to accommodate all the vegans who live and visit their fair city. Chicago is loaded with vegan eateries devoted to preparing foods that are not only healthy and nutritious, but creatively tasty as well. Most of all, many places boast menus that are not limited to light soups, leafy salads or boring sandwiches. The following list is merely an appetizer to what the Chicago vegan restaurant community has to offer.

Chicago Diner Vegan Restaurant

1)The Chicago Diner
This extremely popular diner which first opened in 1983, was initially met with criticism for going against the grain by not fixing the tradition “meat and potato” meals. Now serving at two locations, The Chicago Diner’s idea of comfort food are a veggie burger instead of a hamburger, vegan milkshakes, and a Philly Cheese “steak” made with homemade seitan (wheat gluten) in place of ground beef. Chef Jo Kauchner and other kitchen collaborators decided to share their ideas by penning “The Chicago Diner Cookbook.”
Urban Vegan Restaurant
2)Urban Vegan
The folks at Urban Vegan made it their mission to create an authentic Thai/Asian restaurant with an international theme. Satisfied customers can attest to their mission being accomplished. The cooks use vegetarian meat alternatives without sacrificing taste and use only the finest ingredients. Urban Vegan’s menu selections are a delight for any vegan or non-vegetarian.

Original Soul Vegetarian Restaurant

3)Original Soul Vegetarian
For over 30 years now, Original Soul Vegetarian has proven themselves to be capable of providing healthy and delicious meals. The Chicago Sun Times had this to say about the Soul Vegetarian culinary experience: “One restaurant even non-vegetarians can appreciate.” The chefs create food that is 100 percent plant based, free of animals and chemicals and use no refined sugars, flours or rice. Their slogan is: We Know Your Health Is Your Wealth.

Munch Vegan Restaurant

Aside from vegan and gluten-free options, quality and taste means everything to the people at Munch. They want their customers to feel right at home while enjoying a homemade meal. For breakfast, vegan lovers can choose something as tempting as the “Groovy Breakfast Plate” (organic tofu scrambled with sautéed portabella mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and spinach), which comes with a side of sautéed greens, mashed sweet potatoes and whole-wheat toast. If you’re looking for a light but filling lunch, why not try the “Kale Munch a bunch Protein Salad” which is a combination of chopped kale, roasted beets, shredded carrots, red onions, lentils and almonds and tossed in their special orange garlic dressing. Note: It is cash only.

Mana Food Bar Vegan Restaurant Chicago

5)Mana Food Bar
Travel and Leisure named Mana Food Bar one of Chicago’s best vegan spots to visit. In 2009, Time Out Chicago pointed out that Mana Food Bar is an ideal start to a night out on the town and wrote: “This tastefully designed restaurant offers meatless meals in small and large portions.” Favorites include their grilled asparagus with spicy miso mustard sauce and roasted peppers as well as their sesame noodle dish. Located in Wicker Park, Mana Food Bar has a take-out window for vegan food to go.

Karyn's on Green Vegan Restaurant Chicago

6)Karyn’s on Green
Karyn’s on Green serves a variety of creative platters of nutritious, dairy-free food, organic wines, wheat grass shots and alcohol-free elixirs. Ferocious appetites are easily appeased by the eclectic mix of raw and home-cooked fare. This classy upscale restaurant is located in Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood which is in the northwest side community. Karyn’s on Green is also well appreciated for its mood setting ambiance.


Raw serves up everything from breads and spreads to fare complimented with vegan mayonnaise. Also, diners may quench their thirst with a glass of fresh coconut water, smoothies concocted out of hemp seeds, goji, bananas and strawberries. Hungry vegans can look forward to Raw’s hearty entrees, sandwiches and/or desserts. This establishment is take-out only.

Being a vegan is not just about what you eat, it is a lifestyle. Sometimes the decision to switch to a healthier diet is brought on for medical reasons. The process of going vegan can happen overnight or a person may have to take a gradual approach. No matter the reason or length of the process, Chicago has over 400 vegan friendly restaurants fully able to satisfy the most discriminating of taste buds.

About Dean Iodice