Eat Your Veggies! Chicago's Hottest Vegetarian Restos

the best vegetarian dining in chicago
Truth time: We like meat. Peking duck, Angus beef, crisp prosciutto, all of it. That said, we have learned that a vegetarian meal can be just as delicious as its meaty counterpart. Balance is the spice of life, after all. Vegetarian dishes are often more complex, colorful, and packed with yummy healthiness. Don’t believe us? Make a no-meat reservation at one of our favorite vegetarian, vegan, and even raw (it's okay!) restaurants in Chicago. Vegetarians are people, too!
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Green Zebra
Tell all of your Girl and the Goat-obsessed, pork belly-loving friends that you don’t have to love meat to be a foodie. Green Zebra has an ever-changing seasonal menu with mouth-watering vegetarian selections, like cardamom spiced carrot soup and foraged mushroom risotto. The optional $55 tasting menu offers four savory dishes and a dessert, and the Sunday brunch menu has everything from dim sum to sticky buns. No wonder PETA voted Green Zebra one of the best vegetarian restaurants in America. Bonus: The resto is located on a prime strip of Chicago Avenue real estate, perfect for a post-dinner stroll (or sip!). Green Zebra, 1460 West Chicago Avenue (at Greenview Avenue); 312-243-7100.
The Chicago Diner
Favorite alert! Diners usually evoke memories of bacon cheeseburgers, juke boxes, and poodle skirts. But this ain't your tired greasy spoon. The Chicago Diner offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free courses that emulate your favorite meat dishes; a falafel burger, seitan “wings,” and a vegan chocolate peanut-butter shake. Elvis would be pleased, but since he can't be with us today, we'll drink his. The Chicago Diner, 3411 North Halsted Street (at Roscoe Street); 773-935-6696.
Mana Food Bar
Mana is the perfect place for vegetarian newbies (and terrified meat-eaters) because it offers small and large size plates well-suited for sharing. In other words, the more pals you bring, the more yummies you can try. Sample the almond currant quinoa, eggplant ravioli, and sweet-potato pancake. Indulge in at least one sake cocktail (if not more), and pick from flavors like pineapple and fresh ginger, or rhubarb and nigori. Mana Food Bar, 1742 West Division Street (at Paulina Street); 773-342-1742.
RAW
Trust us, we like the same things as you (pedis and maxi-skirts), but we're also entertaining the idea of going raw. RAW, located in the Chicago French Market, serves up unique dishes like salmon pate (made of ingredients like butternut squash and seaweed) on Bavarian sunflower bread. Every product is fully uncooked, 100% plant-based, and nutrient-rich. We know it sounds intimidating, but so is Gwyenth Paltrow’s workout regime. That doesn't mean it's not awesome. RAW, 131 North Clinton, Suite 7 (at Washington Boulevard); 312-831-2729.
Karyn's Cooked
Veganism strikes us as a bit tough, but we're keeping an open mind. Alicia Silverstone’s doing it, and if it's good enough for Cher Horowitz, it's good enough for us. There’s no better place to take the plunge than Karyn’s, which specializes in meat substitutes such as BBQ ribs (tofu/seitan substitution), a jerk tofu sandwich, and a grilled seitan taco salad bowl. Karyn's will also get you started if you want to go raw for real, and offers take-home diets you can purchase a week at a time. Why don't you try it first, then tell us how it goes, hmm? Karyn's Cooked, 738 North Wells Street (just South of Chicago Avenue); 312-587-1050.
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Ethiopian Diamond
While this little gem is not exclusively vegetarian, it offers an extensive vegetarian menu that has impressed all of the meat haters on Yelp (impressive). We’re craving sambusas, thin, dumpling-like shells that come stuffed with spinach, lentils, and a variety of beef options for the carnivorous friends who didn't want to miss out. All dishes are free from artificial flavoring and preservatives, and no butter, eggs, milk, or honey are used. Bring a group of rowdy friends and eat Injera (a pancake-like Ethiopian bread) with your hands while listening to live music. Not a bad night, if you ask us. Ethiopian Diamond, 6120 North Broadway Street (at Glenlake Avenue); 773-338-6100.
Victory's Banner
Brunch is by far the easiest meal to veg out (in more ways than one). Victory’s Banner puts a creative spin on good ol’ favorites. Create your own scramble with basil pesto and smoked Dutch gouda, or try a curry omelet with apple chutney. We've been nudged toward the award-winning French toast with peach butter, and we're happy we took the bait. Since this Roscoe Village eatery serves breakfast all day, we suggest you come here for some B.F.D. (breakfast for dinner, y'all). We’ll go vegetarian for any dish that involves maple syrup. Victory's Banner, 2100 West Roscoe (at Hoyne Avenue); 773-665-0227.
Cousin's Incredible Vitality
If you’re still having doubts about vegetarianism, Cousin’s Incredible Vitality will get you excited. Seriously, try ordering the Tropical Extravaganza (described as “diced pineapple, papaya, currants, shredded coconut, love, and gratitude”), or the RAWmazing antipasto without breaking a smile. We’re not quite ready to enroll in the restaurant’s raw culinary bootcamp, but it’s good to know it exists. Just in case. Cousin's Incredible Vitality, 3038 West Irving Park Road (at Whipple Street); 773-478-6868.
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