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 restaurants 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?"
Many of these photos are iPhone photos pulled from my Instagram. 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.
This is Chicago—our vegan food is deep fried and covered with cheese. Luckily, that's starting to change, but in general, Chicago vegan food is no frills dining or international cuisine.
I've been vegan since 2005, and back then, none of the 100% vegan restaurants on the following list existed. Neither did many of the vegetarian and omnivore places, or they didn't offer as many vegan options. In fact, many of the vegan-friendly omnivore restaurants are still my favorites. One can only eat so many seitan sandwiches, you know?
If you're looking for more fine dining, I'd recommend a omni spot that has a separate vegan menu, or the new-ish plant-based restaurant, Althea, which is on the list below.
Chicago Vegan Restaurant Map
When I'm traveling, I like to make a Google map of all of the restaurants, sights, and places I want to visit. When you're unfamiliar with a city, sometimes it's easier to plan to eat dinner near a museum you're visiting, or maybe you're looking for a place to get dessert near a vegan restaurant you want to try.
Well, I did all the hard work for you! Just save this baby to your Google Maps account so you always know where the closest vegan restaurant is located.
The map layers are sorted by the same categories as the list below and color coded. If a place has more than 2 locations, I used a different color than the main color for the category so you're not clicking on the same chain restaurant over and over.
I also included more places than I've reviewed in this guide for the sake of being thorough. I have not visited all of the places on the map, or maybe only did once or twice, and this is still not 100% complete.
Now let's get to the list! There are a TON of restaurants on this list.
100% Vegan Restaurants
Urban Vegan (Ravenswood - 1601-1603 W Montrose Ave) & Vegan Plate (Lincoln Park - 1550 W Fullerton Ave #2023)
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. Vegan Plate in Lincoln Park has a very similar menu (it used to be another Urban Vegan location, but it is now under new ownership). Both restaurants are great, but I order Urban Vegan the most since I live closer.
*Okay, I make a trip to my front door to get the Urban Vegan delivery.
Upton's Breakroom (West Town - 2054 W Grand Ave)
Upton's Naturals opened up a restaurant in 2013 serving up dishes fresh from the seitan factory. Some favorites, picture below, are the Bacon Ranch Cheeseburger, Korean Tacos, and the Tempeh Caeser Salad, which is a rotating special. Also, soft serve!
Fancy Plants Cafe (Lakeview - 613 W Briar Pl)
Superstar chef Kevin Schuder opened up Fancy Plants Cafe in Lakeview after hosting dinners and popups since he moved to Chicago a few years back. Fancy Plants is more of a brunch/lunch spot, but they do themed ticket dinners regularly as well. Try the carrot lox bagel with cultured cashew cream cheese!
Chicago House of 'Za (North Center - 1939 W Byron St)
House of Za bakes up Chicago-style stuffed pizza and thin crust pizza with a large list of toppings. In addition to their namesake dish, they offer a full menu of Italian American comfort food like garlic knots, caprese salad, lasagna, and pasta. If you're drooling over House of 'Za's menu, but are not actually planning a trip to Chicago, you can make my deep dish pizza recipe in the meantime!
Althea (Streeterville - 700 N Michigan Ave)
Althea is one of Chicago's few vegan fine dining restaurants, and the food is amazing! The menu rotates regularly, so there is always something new to try, whether you're looking for flavorful vegan fare or raw dishes. Definitely order the cheese plate and one of their seasonal cocktails.
No Bones Beach Club (Wicker Park - 1943 W North Ave)
Originally from Seattle, No Bones Beach Club is such a fun place to go whether you're meeting up for drinks, brunch, or a night out. Their menu is light on seitan and mock meats, utilizing veggies, jackfruit, and tofu instead. My favorite dish is the brunch benedict.
Alice & Friends (Edgewater - 5812 N Broadway)
Alice & Friends used to be a Loving Hut that used to be Alice & Friends, and now they are Alice & Friends again. This Alice in Wonderland-themed Pan Asian restaurant serves up fresh stir fries, curries, noodle dishes, and appetizers.
Arya Bhavan (West Rogers Park - 2508 W Devon Ave)
This vegan Indian restaurant on Devon does themed buffets a few days per week and has a regular menu the rest of the time. If you are looking for gluten free, oil free, or generally healthier versions of traditional Indian dishes, this would be a good spot to try. For example, their samosas are baked instead of fried.
Over the years they started offering more fusion dishes and raw dishes, and do special events like pizza nights. The pizza is what you'd expect if you ordered a pizza from a place that's not a pizzeria so I would recommend going to the Indian buffet night or the regular menu.
Native Foods Cafe & Veggie Grill (many locations)
If you're vegan and live in the US, you've probably heard of Native Foods and Veggie Grill. They have several locations across the country, and many all over Chicago. I love going for a quick lunch or dinner, and getting extra chipotle sauce.
If you have a limited amount of time in Chicago, I would recommend visiting our local vegan restaurants over these chains. There are lots of locations near hotels and conference centers, which is helpful if you need quick bite.
The Chicago Diner (Lakeview - 3411 N Halsted St, Logan Square - 2333 N Milwaukee Ave)
Even if you're not familiar with Chicago vegan dining, you probably know the Chicago Diner. It's the home of the famous Radical Reuben (highly recommended) and delicious vegan milkshakes in many flavors. The Diner should definitely be on your list if you're traveling to Chicago.
Quesadilla La Reina del Sur (Bucktown - 2235 N Western Ave)
Quesadilla serves up authentic Mexican food made vegetarian. Their tinga made with soy chicken is super flavorful and tasty in a super burrito, huarache, quesadilla, or taco. And when they said super burrito, they mean super. You'll get 2-3 meals out of it. You don't want to leave without trying the tamales or tres leches cake!
Annapurna (West Rogers Park - 2608 W Devon Ave)
This cafeteria-style vegetarian Indian restaurant is a great spot for a quick, cheap meal or snack. My go-to order is a Masala Dosa and 2 samosas, which comes out to just shy of $10 for a meal that will leave you stuffed. I find their curries to be a bit oily, so I stick with South Indian fare when I go here.
Vegetarian Express (Ravenswood - 4747 N Damen Ave)
Vegetarian Express has a diverse menu and a juice bar, and everything is super affordable. I usually order the BBQ Seitan Sandwich or the Tamales Plate, and the guacamole, which is delicious. They closed their other location on Halsted, but the website and Google Maps entry have not been updated, so make sure to go to the Damen location.
Vegan-Friendly Omnivore Restaurants
Pick Me Up Cafe (Wrigleyville - 3408 N Clark St)
Pick Me Up has been around for over 20 years and is a staple in the community. 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 or Vegan Santa Fe Scram.
Handlebar (Wicker Park - 2311 W North Ave,)
Handlebar's vegan selection is smaller, but everything I've had for brunch or lunch/dinner has been absolutely amazing. My go-to brunch order is the Pepita Scramble, and the Buffalo Chicken Wrap is fantastic for lunch. You also don't want to miss the fried pickles, served with a vegan ranch.
Taste of Lebanon (Andersonville - 1509 W Foster Ave)
This family-owned Lebanese restaurant has delicious veggie combo platters, lentil soup, hummus, and salads served up by nice people. You can get a giant plate of food for less than $10 and walk away with leftovers.
We eat here almost every week, and the guys who work here have our order memorized. BTW, that order is a hummus appetizer, veggie combo #1 with extra hummus instead of baba ghanoush, and veggie combo #2.
Middle Eastern Bakery (Andersonville - 1512 W Foster Ave)
Also in Andersonville and across the street from Taste of Lebanon, Middle Eastern Bakery has a little grocery store, cafe, and deli counter with fantastic spinach, lentil, and potato pies.
Irazu (Bucktown/Wicker Park - 1865 N Milwaukee Ave)
Irazu is a Costa Rican restaurant with a sizeable vegan-friendly vegetarian menu. My favorite is the fried yuca with mojo, and the potato tacos plate, which comes with crispy potato tacos (they're actually more similar to flautas than a Mexican taco), beans, rice, guacamole, cabbage salad, and plantains.
Yvolina's Tamales (Pilsen - 814 W 18th St)
Yvolina's makes a few different vegan tamales each day that you can order as a combo with beans, rice, and mole. All of their tamales are wrapped in banana leaves, which are my absolute favorite kind because the banana leaf holds in the moisture more than corn husks so the masa is more tender. If you need a sweet treat after your meal, head over to Panadería Nuevo Leon just 1 mile west.
La Cantina (South Loop/McCormick - 1911 S Michigan Ave)
This Mexican restaurant has a separate vegan menu where they use Upton's Naturals Chorizo Seitan and Daiya shredded cheese. If you really want to splurge, I'd recommend the Chimichanga. If you are in town for an event at McCormick Place, this restaurant is within walking distance from the convention center. So is a White Castle location if you want to try the Impossible slider, no judgment.
Sultan's Market (Wicker Park - 2057 W North Ave, Lakeview - 2521 N Clark St)
Sultan's has been around for a long time and makes delicious falafel. I'm a fan of the vegetarian dinner combination which comes with falafel, hummus, pita, your choice of rice, and tabouli or Jerusalem salad.
Ethiopian Diamond (Edgewater - 6120 N Broadway), Demera (Uptown - 4801 N Broadway)
Ethiopian food is one of my favorite cuisines, and these two spots are my favorite in Chicago. If you're not familiar with Ethiopian food, the stews, or wats, are served on a giant platter on top of a large piece of injera, a spongy sourdough flatbread. You'll receive a basket of extra injera on the side, which you use to eat the stews by ripping off pieces and eat with your hands.
By the end of the meal, the flavors from the wats will have soaked into the big piece of injera, so when you've finished eating them all, you can eat the big piece of flavorful injera! Ethiopian Diamond and Demera have similar menus, so I usually order the vegetarian sampler platter.
Budacki's Drive In (Lincoln Square - 4739 N Damen Ave)
I'd be remiss not to include a spot where you can get a vegan Chicago style hot dog! Budacki's has a veggie dog and burger menu. I'd recommend going for the 2 veggie dogs, fries, and a drink meal. Some other spots are Devil Dawgs and Chicago's Dog House.
I've also heard there is a hot dog cart that serves veggie dogs around the Museum Campus. If you're going to grab a veggie dog, maybe check out the Field Museum or Adler Planetarium while you're there! If you go somewhere else offering a veggie dog, make sure the brand they're using is vegan.
Pie, Pie My Darling (West Town - 2636 W Chicago Ave)
Heather of Pie Pie My Darling recently opened a storefront in West Town after popping up at markets around Chicago the past few year, where people lined up around the block to get a slice of one of her signature cakes in flavors like Cookie Monster and Funfetti.
George's Ice Cream and Sweets (Andersonville - 5306 N Clark St)
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.
Panadería Nuevo Leon (Pilsen - 1634 W 18th St)
This panadería has been around since 1973, and opens up everyday at 5:30am to serve vegan conchas and other pan dulce, cupcakes, muffins, and cookies. They even make vegan pan de muerto for Día de los Muertos and vegan Rosca de Reyes for Three Kings Day. Sometimes they will make special items for events, like a vegan concha ice cream sandwich.
Stan's Donuts (many locations)
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.
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!
- If I didn't include a restaurant, it means it sucks and I hate it. Just kidding. This list is far from 100% complete because I haven't been everywhere and these are just some of the places in Chicago that I visit regularly and recommend. And in Chicago, we're lucky to have restaurants rolling out new vegan options all the time!
- If a restaurant is on the list, I've visited several times (and some a lot more than several times) and wholeheartedly recommend their food. Also I'm more likely to frequent and have fully-formed opinions on places that are near where I live.
- While I've had great meals at restaurants that only offer a handful of veg options, I'm only including spots that have a substantial vegan menu. Just because a restaurant serves the Impossible* or Beyond Burger and zero other vegan options doesn't mean it gets a spot on the list. Also, you know that burger probably comes with cheese and mayo that you have to request for them to omit.
*The Impossible Burger at Kuma's Corner is actually very delicious. It has vegan cheddar, garlic mayo, tomato jam, and avocado on a pretzel bun!