Chicago may be known across the country for its deep-dish pizza, but there’s so much more to try in the Windy City. As a vegetarian, whenever I travel I have to do my due diligence to find eateries with meat-free options. And let me tell you, the research paid off! Not once was I ever hungry or wanting for more options while in Chicago. These Chicago vegetarian eateries may just make your trip.
With an already-booming food scene, the city continues to attract more and more delicious restaurants. If you’re a vegetarian traveling to Chicago, or someone who’s just interested in trying something new, I’ve done the legwork for you. Below are four of my favorite Chicago vegetarian eateries!
The Chicago Diner is a longstanding eatery on Halstead Street, in the middle of Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood. This area is home to one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the Midwest and has a fun and welcoming environment.
I’m from New Jersey, so I know my way around a diner. The quintessential diner has leather booths, a bar and stools, white coffee mugs, a glass case full of pastries, and 24-hour service.
The Chicago Diner has some trappings of a classic diner, but its menu blows most other diners out of the water. Inside this charming little restaurant, you’re presented with a menu packed with vegetarian options. Their slogan is “Meat Free Since ‘83,” after all.
They offer classic comfort foods with a vegetarian twist, such as burgers, vegan spinach artichoke dip, wings, nachos, chili, and more. The food at the Chicago Diner was so delicious that we were completely stuffed by the end of our meal. We ordered the seitan wings as a side dish, but we were so full that we barely got to them!
The Chicago Diner, like any good diner, offers milkshakes. But theirs are different than the ones you’ll find in a regular diner: they’re vegan! Even without the dairy, you’ll enjoy ending your meal with this delicious, sweet treat.
Chicago is filled with taquerias and taco trucks, so it can be hard to decide which ones to try. Tacos are my favorite food, so I was more than happy to do some firsthand research. While every taco I tried was enjoyable, nothing blew me away. That was until we visited Antique Taco.
Hands down, the lunch we had at Antique Taco was my favorite meal I had in Chicago. I’m not kidding when I say their potato poblano tacos were the best tacos I’ve ever had. For months after my trip, I was still thinking about them and telling everyone that would listen about how delicious they were.
We started things off with some delicious guacamole and chips, along with a pitcher of Antique Taco’s rosemary margarita. While rosemary and margarita may sound like an odd combination to some, trust me. It’s a delicious drink that will satisfy any margarita fan. It’s as refreshing as a regular margarita, with an ever-so-slight rosemary flavor that cuts through some of the acidity.
And as I mentioned before, the potato and poblano tacos were out of this world. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Chicago to return to my beloved Antique Taco!
I’m a big brunch fan—who isn’t? So when we were choosing where to go for this sacred meal, Handlebar stood out. If you’re a vegetarian, you might be used to going to a brunch place where you have minimal options. Well, you won’t be dealing with that at Handlebar!
Not only is every dish at Handlebar vegetarian, there’s a vegan counterpart available as well. There are so many incredible brunch options to choose from at Handlebar. The huevos diablos contain fried eggs, cheese, corn tostadas, and avocado, served with rice and beans. The vegan breakfast burrito is filled with seitan chorizo, peppers and onions, potatoes, avocado, spinach, salsa, and black beans.
Brunch is synonymous with cocktails, and Handlebar has plenty to choose from. I recommend the Cold Snap cocktail to start your morning off with a two-in-one drink. It features cold brew coffee, vegan Bailey’s ginger simple syrup, and amaretto.
One of the best parts about dining at Handlebar was their outdoor patio, a cozy and enclosed space with a wooden picket fence. Out there you’re surrounded by shady trees and flowers as you enjoy a delicious, made-from-scratch meal.
Native Foods Cafe
If I could recreate the exact meal I had at Native Foods Cafe over and over again, I would. This vegan restaurant had so many delicious options it was hard to choose. I went with the Chicken, Bacon, Avo Club because this is something I’d enjoy back in my meat-eating days. Every last bite was delicious, and if we weren’t on our way to the airport, I would have eaten another one.
Whether you’re a traditional eater or a strict vegan, you’ll be able to find something to eat at Native Foods Cafe. The person I was traveling with isn’t vegetarian and she thoroughly enjoyed her meal. It’s good food, plain and simple.
Unfortunately, the lunch we had at Native Foods Cafe was our last before leaving Chicago. I wish we had discovered it sooner because I would’ve gone back more than once. Luckily, they have locations around the country, so I’m sure I’ll get my chance again one day. I highly recommend that vegetarians check out one of the two Native Foods Cafe locations in Chicago.
Eating my way through the Windy City and trying their huge variety of food was one of my favorite parts of the visit. With these four Chicago vegetarian eateries as a starting point, I hope I’ve paved your way to exploring even more vegetarian restaurants! Have you tried other ones you’d recommend? Let us know!
- Chicago Diner, http://www.veggiediner.com/
- Antique Taco, http://www.antiquetaco.com/
- Handlebar, https://www.handlebarchicago.com/
- Native Foods Cafe, https://www.nativefoods.com/
- Choose Chicago, tourism, https://www.choosechicago.com/
- On our site: Caprese Salad Recipe, with Bufala Mozzarella & Nut-Free Pesto
– All food photos by Erin Ford. Chicago photos by Nancy Zaffaro.