Chicago’s Vegetarian Victories

Food — By adamgauzza on February 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Vegetarian cuisine continues to build in popularity, and while almost all restaurants keep veggie-friendly options in mind, some are designing outstanding menus that will please carnivores and vegans alike.  Here is a rundown of some of Chicago’s finest vegetarian dining.

photo courtesy of Bambi M. of

Stylish soup at Green Zebra

In West Town, Green Zebra’s sleek interior represents the new face of contemporary vegetarian cuisine–creative, sumptuous, and stylish.  The menu will thrill any avid eater with items like the chestnut and truffle tremor agnolotti with forelle pear butter,  roasted fennel, and celery leaves and mustard and caraway spaetzle stroganoff with hon shimeji, smoked cipollinis, dill, and creme fraiche.  You must have dessert here (pear tarte tatin, blue cheese ice cream, balsamic, pear chip) and perhaps just a sip of dark hot chocolate with thai Basil, coconut, and cinnamon whipped cream.

Mana Food Bar in Wicker Park offers a wide range of inspirations and flavors, from bi bim bop to tofu bulgogi to mac and cheese to caponata.  It’s a comfortable setting, and all of their dishes are available in small or large portions, so you can either have one entree or make a meal of small plates.  Head in between 4:00 and 6:00pm for their daily special: two mana sliders (brown rice and mushroom burger with spicy mayo) and any beer for just $7.50.  You can even take your meal to go.

Photo by James M., courtesy of

Out of this World Bread Pudding from M. Henry

M. Henry is a Chicago breakfast destination, and they have an incredibly vegan and vegetarian friendly menu.  The standout dish has to be the Vegan Epiphany: organic tofu scrambled with red & green peppers, baby spinach, yellow onions and spices, served with yuba and house potatoes.  You certainly can’t leave without trying the Out of this World Breakfast Bread Pudding with warm blackberries and peaches.  The only question: half or full portion?

East Lakeview’s Falafill is perfect for vegetarian fast food.  You can choose from falafil wraps, sandwiches, and bowls, and you’ll get a trip to their beautiful toppings bar.  Try the roasted beats, the minted cabbage, the garlicky cauliflower, Jerusalem salad, tabouleh, and plenty of hot pink pickled turnip.  Each month they offer a gourmet wrap created by one of the city’s top chefs.  The price is right, too: all options are under $10.

Vermillion offers stylish, more upscale dining in River North.  With a combination of Indian and Latin influences, the flavor-packed menu serves up small plates and entrees as well as their favorite “truckstop dhabafare” like Methi-sarson-palak Paneer with Indian cottage cheese and seasoned mustard greens, spinach, and fenugreek or Punjabi Chole with spicy garbanzo beans with chaat and ginger.

Tags: Falafill, Green Zebra, M. Henry, Mana Food Bar, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vermillion