Chicago has vegan options from all corners of the world.
Chicago is a city of diverse superlatives. One of the best skylines and some of the most revered architecture in the country are complemented by stunning parks and blue water beaches. Some of the world’s most renowned museums host masterpieces from all over the world, whilst a local art scene impresses on a global scale. Of all our boasts and sources of pride, however, few would dispute the prowess of Chicago’s vibrant food scene.
Our great metropolis is home to a wonderful amalgamation of international cuisines. Vegetarians and vegans have long been left bereft of options but now through the combination of a flourishing vegan community and Chicago’s great cultural diversity, there are a plethora of plant-based dining options all across the city. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or a curious carnivore, we’ve here compiled a list of the 8 best vegan restaurants in Chicago for brunches, snacking, and dining out, so you can cut to the chase and enjoy the very best vegan options in Chicago.
Ask any vegetarian or vegan in the city of their top restaurant choices and it’s likely Chicago Diner will be one of the first names on their lips. Whilst a motto boasts that The Chicago Diner has been “Meat free since ’83” its reputation is such that The Chicago Diner is loved by meat-eaters and vegans all over the city. A large menu offers anything ranging from pancakes to black bean veggie burgers but it’s what they can do with seitan and tofu that will really blow your mind, and your taste buds. Thai Chilli Wings, Chicken Shawarma, Italian Beef, and Gyros, and all, believe it or not, just a few of the astounding vegan options over at the legendary Chicago Diner.
The Chicago Diner vegan menu can be found here.
The Chicago Diner can be found at 3411 N Halsted Street or at 2333 N Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, Chicago.
Alice & Friends is another popular vegan restaurant with a wonderfully diverse menu. Their website reads that they “proudly celebrate the flavors, beauty, and diversity of vegan cuisine from all over” but they also pride themselves on wowing non-vegans with their tasty dishes. Founded in 2001, Alice & Friends offers a variety of Asian style dishes as well as traditional American favorites like burgers and fries. Everything is made with fresh organic vegetables and spices and home-made dessert choices and soy ice cream are some of the best vegan options in the city.
The Alice & Friends vegan menu can be found here.
Alice & Friends can be found at 5812 N Broadway, Chicago.
Amitabul, which means ‘awakening’, is a truly unique option in a sea of extraordinary dining options. A menu of vegan Buddhist Korean cuisine offers bright and nutritious dishes in a tranquil setting but it is the backstory that will captivate you before you’ve even tasted their divine creations. Every dish cooked up by Chef Bill Choi brings with it a little bit of his history. Raised in Seoul, South Korea, Chef Bill would watch and learn traditional Korean fermentation techniques from his mother and grandmother.
Bill and his brother later moved to Chicago and ran Jim’s Grill on Chicago’s north side using vegetables that monks would bring from the brothers’ Buddhist temple. With these, they would make a vegan Bi Bim Bop. The dish was such a hit that they honed in on a vegan merging of traditional Korean preparation and Western taste setting up Amitabul in 1995. Today vegan dishes bouncing with flavor are created using Bill’s ancestral recipes without oils or salts.
The Amitabul vegan menu can be found here.
Amitabul can be found at 6207 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago.
Althea is one of the younger options on this list of Chicago’s vegan dining options. Established in 2018, it has been offering a remarkable variety of globally-inspired meals within a sensational setting ever since. Located up on the seventh floor of Saks Fifth Avenue, the venue boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that swamp the restaurant with natural light and provide sublime views of Chicago’s skyline. But with the city views and the prismatic plates of vegan food, you won’t know where to look. The menu, crafted by celebrity chef and plant-based pioneer, Matthew Kenny, offers a variety of unique dishes made using fresh, organic ingredients as well as some interesting interpretations of traditional dishes.
The Althea vegan menu can be found here.
Althea can be found at 700 N Michigan Avenue (7th floor of Saks Fifth Avenue), Chicago.
Whilst up at Althea you’ll find a ritzy vegan dining experience, down at Handlebar in Wicker Park you’ll find a laid-back vegan retreat offering “food, booze, and good times.” Made-from-scratch vegetarian and vegan dishes have been surpassing customer expectations since 2003 and the small, casual neighborhood restaurant has become an authentic favorite with a beloved beer garden to boot. To raise the bar even higher, Handlebar has teamed up with the popular vegan bakery Pie Pie My Darling to offer the bakery’s delectable vegan cake slices. Sourcing produce from local farms, brewing fair-trade coffee, and serving all organic eggs, you can’t fault anything about Wicker Park’s Handlebar, especially not the vibe.
The Handlebar vegan menu can be found here.
Handlebar can be found at 2311 W North Avenue, Chicago.
Logan Square’s favorite vegetarian spot does not disappoint. Like Handlebar, it’s a relaxed space with a wealth of vegan options. It’s not lavish, it’s not luxurious, it’s laid-back and low-key, offering a down-to-earth vibe and more magical seitan-based creations. Options like the Tofu Wings, BBQ Deluxe Sandwich, and Beet Burger 2.0 are standouts on an eclectic menu.
The Ground Control vegan menu can be found here.
Ground Control can be found at 3315 W Armitage Avenue, Chicago.
Many of you will likely be familiar with Beatrix. Since opening in 2013 they now have a small collection of well-located coffeehouses and restaurants in River North, Streeterville, Fulton Market, and Oak Brook. The original in River North offers incredible breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with exceptional coffee and an extensive variety of vegan options. It has a patio, a gluten-free menu, some unparalleled risottos, and vegan home-made desserts that will have you coming back for more.
Beatrix’s River North vegan menu can be found here.
Beatrix in River North can be found at 519 N Clark Street, Chicago.
Vegan options aren’t always endless and if you’re a tried and tested vegan you’ve likely covered a fair few on this list so we’ve reserved the last spot for Rooh. The Indian restaurant in West Loop prides itself on its progressive Indian cuisine. The menu offers an array of exquisite moderately-priced dishes merging exquisite regional flavors and modern gastronomic techniques. There aren’t as many vegan options as previously mentioned plant-based businesses but they’re building exclusive vegan and gluten-free menus with some interesting options. Ask and they just might alter their 4-course prix fixe ‘culinary journey’ that offers an experience of local flavors and traditions from various regions of India.
The best part? Rooh is now also home to a unique 17-foot thermal hexadome tent with high ceilings and infrared heaters so you can safely tuck into some fantastic vegan food whilst catching up with friends or family.
Rooh’s vegan menu can be found here.
Rooh can be found at 736 West Randolph Street, Chicago.
[Featured image from Shuttershock]