Cousin’s I.V. Raw foodists are rejoicing that chef Mehmet Ak is making 100% raw, 100% vegan and mostly organic renderings of Turkish and American classics. But they’re not the only ones who will enjoy his delicious “pizza”—a flaxseed cracker topped with garlicky tomato sauce, fresh avocado and marinated mushrooms—and his lively marinated spinach. The nutty “zoom” burger and sprout-heavy tabouli, on the other hand, are probably easier to swallow for raw foodists, if only because, for them, there aren’t many other options. 3038 W Irving Park Rd (773-478-6868). Bus: 80. Lunch, dinner . Average main course: $12.
Freshii This Canadian health-food chain has brought healthy options to the artery-clogging Loop lunch scene, but we’re more impressed by the swell-sounding menu descriptions than the actual food itself. Still, dieters can keep lunch low-cal with tofu and tempeh wraps, salads and brown rice bowls, but we prefer to get our calories with the tart frozen yogurt topped with fresh strawberries and toasted almond slivers. 311 S Wacker Dr (312-435-0311). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Pink, Orange to Washington/Wells. Breakfast, lunch (Mon–Fri). Average main course: $8.
Protein Bar After losing 60 pounds on a high-protein diet, owner Matt Matros decided to spread the healthy-lifestyle love to Loop workers with this acai-and-agave-nectar haven serving fruit-blended protein shakes and bowls of steel-cut oats. The peculiar mouthfeel of protein powder disappears into a hot bowl of McCann’s oatmeal—especially the “Pancake in a Bowl” version, hit with maple syrup and cinnamon—and quinoa topped with black beans makes for a hearty, healthy lunch. 235 S Franklin St (312-346-3746). El: Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Quincy/Wells. Mon–Fri 7am–7pm; Sat 9am–4pm (closed Sun). Average drink: $5.
Karyn’s Fresh Corner Karyn Calabrese’s menu is 100% organic, 100% vegan and 100% raw (that is, uncooked), but you don’t have to be a vegan raw-foodist to truly appreciate what she’s doing. A starter of stuffed mushrooms are superbly fresh and garlicky, and the “seaweed dim sum,” a dumplingesque appetizer, is filled with a creamy mixture of avocado and kalamata olives. 1901 N Halsted St (312-255-1590). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Armitage; Red to North/Clybourn. Bus: 8, 72, 73. Breakfast, brunch (Sun), lunch, dinner. Average main course: $16.