Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!
Recently, Ryan & I took a little trip to the Windy City of Chicago. With a great group of friends there & lots of excellent dining options, I thought I would show Ryan why I enjoyed it there so much last time & try some spots I didn't make it to before!
We arrived in Chicago late evening & hungry as can be, enter Pick Me Up Cafe, the perfect place for a night time bite. While not an all vegan restaurant, you won't be short on options here! We decided to go for it & get the Jalapeno Poppers, Chili Cheese Fries, & French Toast. While the Jalapeno Poppers were less than memorable, the Chili Cheese Fries were a delicious indulgence with cumin spiced chili, & cheese sauce by Teese, & perfectly crisp fries. Although, the highlight of our dining was certainly the French Toast! Ryan is a serious French Toast lover & is rarely impressed by the offerings available, but we were both blown away by the cinnamon & nutmeg flecked coating on thick, fluffy, locally baked bread. With maple syrup, this was heaven on a plate, & we were glad we listened to the many people who recommended it to us! Rumor has it, the locals prefer the vegan version. On another late night, we popped in again for a bite & noticed dessert options such as rice krispie treats & cake, but we were looking for savory items, so we opted for the Buffalo Tofu & salads. Let me just say, stick to the French Toast, it's too good to pass up!
Chicago knows junk food & so does Veggie Bite. If you like neon cheese sauce, then you'll LOVE this spot that claims to be the first 100% vegan fast food joint. We headed here with Natalie from Bake & Destroy, plus her husband & Veggie Bite lover, Tony. She warned us it was going to be gnarly & boy, was she right! When selecting photos for this post, one thing I noticed was all the food looks the same! It's like Taco Bell, the food may have different titles, but it all has the same ingredients. We started with Chili Cheese Fries for the table, then moved on to a Chili Cheese Dog with Fries for Ryan & a Taco Salad for me. Guess what? They all had (slightly burnt) beans & neon cheese sauce with something fried! I could see this being a late night drunken dining spot, but I couldn't imagine eating here regularly, unless you enjoy having a boxing match in your stomach!
After checking out Millennum Park with Natalie & her crew, we headed to a new spot for vegans called Delicious Cafe. While it's more of a coffee shop with light food options, there's some tastiness to be had here. First of all, they have a case full of sweets, some made in-house, others made by Fritz Pastry, which included cupcakes, pie, scones, & even S'mores! On the savory side, you'll find a McMuffin-like Breakfast Sandwich, plus sandwiches like my grilled Peanut Butter & Banana. Ryan opted to make his own sandwich with Tofurky & lots of veggies, which came with a side of chips. While nothing we had was epic, it was a nice bite to eat & a great option for the neighborhood. If anything, I would go back to support this vegan owned & operated business!
You can't go to Chicago without going to The Chicago Diner. In fact, we went there twice, once before a Cubs game & once for a night out with friends & we may or may not have ordered the same thing both times. The bottom line is The Radical Reuben totally lives up to its name & even as someone who would likely not order a reuben, I just have to have this sandwich when I'm there. Perfect seitan from Upton's Naturals, tangy Sauerkraut & Thousand Island dressing, plus melted Teese, I'm powerless! I can't seem to get away without ordering the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough milkshake as well, Temptation ice cream makes a killer shake! We also had some tasty nachos, some not-so-buffalo tasting wings, & I tried a raw strawberry cheesecake that was pretty good. I think I may be a Reuben & Shake girl for life!
On sunny afternoon, we headed over to Handlebar, another vegan friendly spot in Chicago, to meet up with Leanne from Vaute Couture & have lunch. If you don't know, Leanne is the beauty & brains behind Vaute Couture, a 100% vegan, eco-conscious, fashionable line of winter coats! She also has a blog On Our Sleeve, where she writes about news regarding her line, plus her life has a vegan, model, & activist. We had a great time chatting about our lives in the fashion industry & what's coming up for us next, Leanne is an awesome gal! On the food front, Ryan had one of the staples of Handlebar, the Buffalo Chicken wrap with a side of fries. I opted for a salad version, taking the "Fried Chicken Salad" & adding buffalo sauce. It turned out to be a good call & it totally hit the spot!
I always like to try to meet up with friends & bloggers when I visit other cities & this was no exception. A group of awesome ladies including Kelly of Vegan Cookies, Julia of SnarkyVegan, & some PPKers joined me for a feast at Soul Vegetarian East. We started with a big ol' basket of fried food! Onion Rings, Cauliflower, & also the Protein Tidbits were passed around & we all filled our bellies with far too much before our entrees came out. Most of us went for the Dinner Special of Pot Roast, Red Beans & Rice, Collard Greens, & Yams. I also had to grab a piece of Cornbread, since it's a favorite of mine. Everything was well seasoned & I enjoyed it, especially the yams. For dessert, we ordered soft serve & that's when the confusion began. Our waitress just plopped all of the (tiny) servings on the table, never telling us which was Mango & which was Pineapple! You would think we could taste them & figure it out, but that wasn't the case. Needless to say, none of us were impressed. Next time, I think I'll pass!
On my final day in Chicago, I spent most of the day in a tattoo chair with Hannah Aitchison laying down a little over 6 hours of ink on my arm. All that tattooing gets a girl mighty hungry, so I met up with friends Cas, Mary, & Megan for dinner at Amitabul, home of "Healthy Korean Vegan Cuisine". Everything on the menu sounded SO good, it was hard to decide what to get, but we all started with some delicious dumplings, & I ordered the Spicy Kimchi Noodle dish as an entree. It was a HUGE plate of food that was super flavorful & spicy! Mary ordered the Dark Side of the Moon & I have to say, it was so good, I would likely order that next time! I loved the fresh vegetables & flavorful dishes at Amitabul, it really did feel healthy for restaurant fare & I hope to get back there soon!
Once again, Chicago showed me a good time on the dining front. While everything may be a bit heavier than I would normally eat, it's fun to let loose sometimes & load up on vegan cheese products & fried treats. Speaking of indulgences, next time I'll be bringing you the sweet side of Chicago! Stay tuned!