7 Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants In The Heart Of Chicago
Chicago is home to some of the most inventive plant-based restaurants in the country, and we’re sharing our top picks. With restaurants that run the gamut from fast casual to high-end contemporary dining, there’s a delicious vegetarian-friendly destination for even the pickiest eater in Chi-town.
Mana Food Bar: Nestled in Wicker Park, veggie-forward Mana Food Bar puts a global spin on its fare, with its menu full of Italian, Asian and Indian-inspired cuisine. Mana’s menu is split up by cold and hot dishes, with healthy bites ranging from the seaweed-and-cucumber salad to the hearty Ethiopian ful bean dip. Nor does Mana’s cocktail menu lack robust flavors: choose from an array of boozy slushies, full wine list or selection of sakes.
Bad Hunter: Housed in a gorgeous, bright and airy space in the West Loop, Bad Hunter takes a veg-forward twist on New American dining. The polished establishment takes pride in providing diners with an all-around sessionable experience, from dishes on the lighter side to low-alcohol cocktails for easy drinking. Although Bad Hunter’s menu changes daily, current dishes include flavorful fried kale sprouts, a seasonal heirloom tomato salad and coconut ash maltagliati.
Native Foods Cafe: Native Foods Cafe is fast-casual dining’s answer to delivering healthy, plant-based dishes that pack ample flavor. With four locations across Chicago—in the Loop, Wicker Park, Hyde Park and Lakeview, to be exact—it’s easy to see why Native Foods is a neighborhood favorite. One of the eatery’s most surprising dishes? Southern-Fried Chicken and Waffles! But fear not—this delicious “chicken” is a creative blend of spices and non-GMO soy, wheat and pea protein.
Green Zebra: Led by James Beard Award-winning chef Shawn McClain, Green Zebra shares a contemporary vegetarian dining experience with guests. The West Town restaurant focuses on curating dishes with the freshest seasonal ingredients, sourced by nearby foragers and farmers. Kick off your dining experience with the scarlet beet poke, and don’t miss the barbecued jackfruit sandwich for a more hearty bite of Green Zebra’s well-rounded flavors.
Beatrix: This neighborhood coffeehouse and restaurant offers patrons a warm and inviting atmosphere to enjoy vegetable-based dishes for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Don’t miss Beatrix’s robust list of vegetarian-friendly lunch salads, like the enlightened caesar, crispy kale and three-grain. Looking to stay for dinner? Don’t miss the wild mushroom risotto, which pairs perfectly with one of the many vinos on Beatrix’s wine list.
Lula Cafe: Lula Cafe is a fun, inventive dining space located in Logan Square. In addition to serving up delicious eats, Lula also hosts seasonal art exhibits for patrons to enjoy during their meals. Don’t miss the cafe’s six-course vegetarian tasting menu, which shares an authentic taste of the restaurant’s signature flavors. Lula’s roasted honeynut squash is a hit with diners, made with sunflower seed miso, thyme, manchego and swiss chard.
Chicago Diner: With its signature ‘Meat Free Since ‘83’ slogan, it’s no wonder that the Chicago Diner is a go-to spot for Windy City vegetarians. Visit the Chicago Diner to get your fill of feel-good eats like Thai chili wings, poutine, country-fried steak and more–all without an ounce of meat. Want to indulge your sweet tooth? Don’t miss the diner’s selection of decadent vegan milkshakes that come in flavors like cookie-dough peanut butter, carrot cake and vanilla chai.
Cover photo by Eszter Biró