Chicago Vegan Eats

Chicago Vegan Restaurant Guide

While Happy Cow can give you a comprehensive list of vegan restaurants in any given city (and we are all grateful for that!), people usually want personal recommendations. I’m often giving Chicago vegan food recommendations for traveling vegans, so I thought I’d put all of that info in one place, complete with photos and some of my favorite dishes. Here is my answer to “what are your favorite vegan restaurants in Chicago?”

My personal Instagram profile contains a huge amount of photos from Chicago vegan restaurants, so that’s where the photos are coming from today. I rarely bring my camera to restaurants in my own city anymore when I can easily grab my phone and Instagram it instead. Usually when I’m toting DSLRs around to restaurants, I’m working (note to Chicago vegan restaurants/shameless self-promotion: photographing for restaurants is a thing I do for a living!), so it’s nice to just have fun with it on Instagram.

Disclaimer: If I didn’t include a restaurant, it means it sucks and I hate it. Just kidding. I haven’t been everywhere, or Instagrammed everywhere I’ve been. This list is far from 100% complete because these are just some of the places in Chicago that I frequent and where I also have posted to Instagram. There are some great Ethiopian places in Chicago, but the dim lighting and a platter of stewed lentils doesn’t particularly translate well to a photo. Also, I spend more time at restaurants on the north side because that’s where I live, and there are tons of great restaurants up here. And in Chicago, we’re lucky to have restaurants rolling out new vegan options all the time!

Chicago vegan restaurants

Chicago Vegan Restaurants

Brunch/Lunch/Dinner

The Chicago Diner (Lakeview, Logan Square)

Even if you’re not familiar with Chicago vegan dining, you probably know the Chicago Diner. It’s the home of the Radical Reuben (highly recommended) and delicious vegan milkshakes in many flavors. Therefore, the Diner should definitely be on your list if you’re traveling to Chicago.

Upton’s Breakroom (West Town)

Upton’s Naturals opened up a restaurant in 2013 serving up dishes fresh from the seitan factory and some Chicago favorites, like Italian “beef” seitan, picture below. Also, soft serve!

Italian at @uptonsbreakroom at the #BrownDogPicnic! #vegan #chicagovegan #whatveganseat

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Pick Me Up Cafe (Wrigleyville)

The go-to place when you need chili cheese fries and a vegan milkshake at midnight, Pick Me Up is open late serving diner-style favorites. I usually stick to their brunch menu, served all day, and get the French toast.

Handlebar (Wicker Park)

Handlebar’s vegan selection is smaller, but everything I’ve had for brunch or lunch/dinner has been absolutely amazing. You also don’t want to miss the fried pickles, served with a vegan ranch.

Pepitas scramble from #Handlebar. Not pictured: fried pickles. #vegan #brunch #chicago #veganbrunch

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Vegetarian Express (Lakeview, Ravenswood)

Vegetarian Express has a diverse menu and a juice bar, and everything is super affordable. They make an amazing guacamole, and a tamale plate. And they recently opened a new location!

Lunch/Dinner

Urban Vegan (Ravenswood, Lincoln Park)

Urban Vegan is an all-vegan Thai restaurant serving lunch and dinner, and I make a trip almost every week. I love getting the lunch/dinner special which includes your choice of entree, a side salad, and spring rolls. Their Lincoln Park location is now called Vegan Plate.

Pad Thai lunch combo at #urbanvegan. #latergram #chicago #vegan #whatveganseat #chicagovegan

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Sultan’s Market (Wicker Park, Lakeview)

Sultan serves up the best falafel in Chicago, hands down. You can get a giant plate of food for less than $10, and walk away stuffed. I’m a fan of the vegetarian dinner combination which comes with falafel, hummus, pita, your choice of rice, and tabouli or Jerusalem salad.

Santullo’s Eatery (Wicker Park)

*UPDATE 5/2016: Every time I’ve tried to go to Santullo’s in the past year they’ve been out of vegan cheese and/or seitan. So, maybe don’t count on Santullo’s unless you call ahead?

If I could only eat one pizza for the rest of my life, it would be the Vegan Brickhouse from Santullo’s. They serve up giant New York-style pizzas every day, or you can get vegan pizza by the slice on certain weekdays.

Pizza #vegan

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Native Foods Cafe (Wicker Park, Loop, Lakeview, Hyde Park)

If you’re vegan and live in the US, you’ve probably heard of Native Foods. They have several locations across the country, and at least five in Chicago. I love going for a quick lunch or dinner, and getting extra chipotle sauce.

Yo Amigo Taco Salad at @nativefoodscafe #nativefoods #chicago #vegan #whatveganseat #chicagovegan #lunch

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Arya Bhavan (West Rogers Park)

This Indian restaurant on Devon recently went all vegan, and they do themed buffets a few days per week. I skip pizza night and raw night, and go for the traditional Indian buffet and load up on curry.

Arya Bhavan #vegan buffet #chicago

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Coffee/Bakery/Dessert

George’s Ice Cream and Sweets (Andersonville)

One of my favorite summer afternoon activities is walking around the shops of Andersonville and stopping in George’s for ice cream. They usually have two vegan flavors at a time, and rotate them often. Check them out for vegan versions of Oreo chip, Blue Moon, Butter Pecan, Raspberry Nebula, Mint Chip, Vanilla Chip, and more.

#soy butter pecan cones at @georgesicecream #vegan #icecream @popularpays

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

The Chicago Diner (Lakeview, Logan Square)

The Chicago Diner also has a dessert menu! If you’re not stuffed from your milkshake, also check out the Caramel Crunch Torte.

Caramel Crunch Torte from @chicagodiner! #birthday #cake #vegan

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Intelligentsia (several locations)

Intelligentsia is not necessarily a vegan destination, but they have excellent coffee. You can get Intelligentsia at many coffee shops around the city, or visit one of their locations.

@IntelligentsiaCoffee soy cappuccino @popularpays

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

West Town Bakery (West Town)

I haven’t gotten a chance to try West Town Bakery’s brunch, but I’ve sure eaten many a donut and cake ball from their bakery case. As with any bakery, show up early before they sell out of the good stuff.

#donut from #westtownbakery #vegan

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Pie Pie My Darling (various markets)

I first tried Pie Pie My Darling at the Vegan Vortex market, where she usually sells out of pie very quickly! Follow her social media pages for updates on where she’ll be vending next so you can get your pie fix.

#breakfast courtesy of @piepiemydarling #veganvortex #vegan #pie

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Paper Moon Pastry (Vegan Vortex, Logan Square markets)

Paper Moon Pastry runs the quarterly Vegan Vortex markets, and also pops up at markets around Logan Square. She always has a variety of goods, including some of the best peanut butter cookies.

Vegan Vortex is open! @papermoonbakery

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

The Grind (Lincoln Square)

The Grind is a neighborhood coffee shop that has a few vegan baked good options and some light lunch items. If you’re wandering around the north side, it’s a great coffee shop to check out.

Soy latte and spinach pie at #thegrind #chicago

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

delicious cafe (North Center)

delicious cafe is a mostly vegan coffee shop with tons of quick vegan brunch options. Also, they have a bakery case filled with desserts from bakeries like Bot Bakery and Fritz Pastry.

#vegan cinnamon roll from Delicious Cafe #chicago #kitten

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Stan’s Donuts (Wicker Parket, Streeterville)

Stan’s has one or two vegan donut options each day, and they are open late! They keep the vegan donuts simple, but it’s a great option if you’re looking for a tried-and-true glazed and sugar-coated donut.

It’s #donut time. @stansdonutschicago @popularpays #vegan #whatveganseat

A photo posted by Kelly Peloza (@kellypeloza) on

Hopefully this selection gives you more than enough options for a long weekend in Chicago! I’m always posting about food on Instagram, so follow along for more Chicago vegan food posts!

So, what is your favorite Chicago vegan restaurant?

Kelly Peloza is the blogger and photographer at Seitan Beats Your Meat, and the author of two vegan cookbooks: The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, and Cheers to Vegan Sweets.

She lives in Chicago and runs a photography business called Kelly Peloza Photo.

10 Replies to “Chicago Vegan Eats”

  1. This is a great write up!

  2. Thank you for this! We’re planning a trip to Chicago this fall!

    1. Ooh, have fun! There’s so much great food here.

  3. Hmmm… I might have to go back to Chicago again. Though let’s be real, I’ll probably just eat at the Chicago Diner every day again. 😉 I thought I recognised those burgers in the top photo. 😉

    1. Good eye! 😉 I couldn’t find a reuben photo and these looked the best!

  4. This is such great timing! I’m going to Chicago this weekend, and along with visiting my usual favorites, I wanted to branch out and try some new places. There are a few I’ve been considering, and I wondered if you’ve tried them: Quesadilla de la Reyna, Soul Vegetarian, and Ground Control.

    1. Oh, and I’m thinking Demera for Ethiopian, but that’s the only Ethiopian restaurant in Chicago that I’ve tried. Are there others that you prefer?

    2. Oh yeah, Quesadilla is great! I went to Soul Veg a very long time ago and it was also great. And so is Ground Control. I’ll have to add to this list sometime!

      I love Demera for Ethiopian and go there the most because it’s close to my apartment, but Ethiopian Diamond is also amazing (and next to an antique market that I love to get lost in for an hour or two). You can’t really go wrong with either.

      1. Fantastic! I’m glad to hear that any new places I try will be winners. Atmosphere-wise, would you say Ethiopian Diamond is similar to Demera?

        1. Yep, pretty similar! Diamond is a bigger space.

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