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 curious carnivore, we’ve here compiled a list of the 10 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.
1. The Chicago Diner
Ask any vegetarian or vegan in the city about their top vegan restaurant choices and it’s likely the 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 too.
Thai Chilli Wings, Chicken Shawarma, Italian Beef, and Gyros, are 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 is located at 3411 N Halsted Street and at 2333 N Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, Chicago.
2. Kale My Name
Kale My Name is a popular 100% plant-based restaurant and bar with no shortage of fans in Chicago. Nominated for the best brunch in the country by VegOut Magazin, you’ll find both the main menu and a brunch menu offering a wide eclectic mix of mouth-watering options for all hours of the day including a huge selection of vegan burgers, tacos, wraps, soups, and salads.
From “Organic Hand Crafted Local Kombucha” and “Chaider, Spiced Chai Apple Cider” to a range of 16oz vegan smoothies and shakes named after countries around the world, there are some equally fantastic drinks on the menu too.Kale My Name’s vegan menu can be found here.
📍Kale My Name is located at 3300 W Montrose Avenue, Chicago.
3. Planta Queen
With several locations in Florida, New York, Maryland, and now also one in Chicago, Planta Queen is a plant-based culinary utopia for vegans in several parts of the country. Walking into the upscale River North restaurant it’s easy to see why.
Originally planned to open pre-pandemic, Chicago’s Planta Queen finally opened a stunning venue with floor-to-ceiling windows at 413 N Clark St this year and has plans to expand to Fulton Market in the near future.
The plant-based modern Asian restaurant was Founded in 2016 by CEO Steven Salm and executive chef David Lee. “Our mission is to make an impact by celebrating the power of plants” reads the Planta Queen website. “We work tirelessly to continuously expand our influence, championing plant-based living as a way to better our health, our communities, and our planet.”
It’s the nigiri that is often name-dropped at Planta. While there are plenty of options for sushi and other Asian food over Chicago the nigiri here has earnt itself a loyal following for good reason. The Unagi Eggplant Nirigi with caramelized miso truffle and the Ahi Watermelon Nigiri with ginger and citrus soy are two unexpected mouthwatering options.Planta Queen’s Chicago vegan menu can be found here.
📍Plant Queen is located at 413 N Clark St, Chicago.
4. Soul Veg City
Previously known as Original Soul Vegetarian, Soul Veg City has been an outstanding vegan and vegetarian option in Chicago’s South Side since 1982. For nearly 40 years they have been serving healthy plant-based food options dating back to when food awareness and abstention were minimal.
The family-owned staple is also one of the oldest black-owned vegan restaurants in the country and has become a cornerstone of Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood.
After undergoing renovations in 2021 the iconic vegan restaurant now offers an expanded dining area, an expanded bakery section, a huge juice bar, a new pizza bar, and even more patio seating.
From the Zesty Cauliflower Wingz to the Vegan Shrimp Boat there are an array of mouthwatering meals of all sizes at this distinguished hub of plant-based soul food.The Soul Veg City vegan menu can be found here.
📍Soul Veg City is located at 201-209 East 75th Street, Chicago.
5. Alice & Friends Vegan Kitchen
Alice & Friends is another popular vegan restaurant in Chicago 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 plus the homemade 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 is located at 5812 N Broadway, Chicago.
6. Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria
With a large Mexican population and a world-renown food scene, Chicago has a great number of seriously good taquerias all over the city. The only problem is that, though many now offer vegan and vegetarian substitutes, with the traditional range of tacos meat is nearly always a fundamental ingredient so you’re often left with one or two vegan options.
Luckily for those who have a weekly tacos craving to fill (and let’s be honest who doesn’t love tacos) Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria in Chicago’s North Side neighborhood is the answer to the problem.
Chicago’s first plant-based taqueria it offers authentic plant-based Mexican cuisine alongside a fantastic variety of Mexican beers, mezcal, and tequila cocktails.The Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria menu can be found here.
📍Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria is located at 230 W Chicago Ave, Chicago.
Amitabul, which means ‘awakening’, is a truly unique vegan restaurant 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 are created using Bill’s ancestral recipes without oils or salts but bouncing with flavors.The Amitabul vegan menu can be found here.
📍Amitabul is located at 6207 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago.
Handlebar in Wicker Park offers a wonderfully 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, most certainly not the vibe.The Handlebar vegan menu can be found here.
📍Handlebar is located at 2311 W North Avenue, Chicago.
9. Ground Control
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 is located at 3315 W Armitage Avenue, Chicago.
10. Urban Vegan
While there are a few places you’ll find a range of vegan burgers, tacos, wraps, and salads, at Urban Vegan in Ravenswood you’ll find a fantastic menu of vegan Thai and Asian food.
Thai food is mostly vegan-friendly but dishes traditionally often contain fish sauce, oyster sauce, and other non-vegan ingredients which Urban Vegan has effectively managed to eradicate from their sensational creations. It’s considered one of the best Thai restaurants in town and you’ll struggle to find a better vegan Thai curry anywhere else in Chicago.Urban Vegan’s vegan menu can be found here.
Urban Vegan is located at 1601 W Montrose Avenue, Chicago.
Special mentions: Native Foods
Though we prefer to highlight the more independent, family-owned vegan spots and neighborhood linchpins of Chicago, there’s no denying the reliability of Native Foods.
The small chain of vegan restaurants originating from Southern California now has four different Chicago locations in Lakeview, Hyde Park, Wicker Park, and The Loop. Native Foods’ 27+ years of crafting 100% plant-based dishes and multiple locations together offer a fantastic and reliable vegan experience.
The Native Foods vegan menu can be found here.
📍There are several Native foods locations in Chicago all of which can be found at nativefoods.com/locations.
[Featured Image from Facebook / @kalemyname]