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Chicago Raw dishes
Photograph: Courtesy of Chicago Raw

Chicago Raw brings plant-based dining to Time Out Market Chicago

The raw vegan cafe offers an expansive menu of nutrient-rich foods.

Jeffy Mai
Written by
Jeffy Mai

Time Out Market Chicago is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, and the lineup has just gotten even more diverse.

Chicago Raw has joined the Market, bringing its inventive brand of raw vegan cuisine to Fulton Market. Opened in 2009 by Polly Gaza, the plant-based concept empowers diners to take control of their well-being by specializing in nutrient-rich foods. 

“I believe your body’s a fireplace and the better quality fuel that you put into your system, the bigger of fire you’re going to glow. You’re going to be more radiant, your immune system is going to be better, you’re going to feel better,” Gaza said.

The restaurant prepares more than 130 recipes daily, and over 50 of them are offered at the Market. Everything is plant-based, produced with fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and served uncooked to retain the nutritional value. In addition to being vegan-friendly, all items are certified kosher and gluten-free as well. 

The expansive menu features options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guests can start the day with hand-pressed juices, smoothies, açaí bowls or blueberry protein oats. For heartier bites, Chicago Raw has favorites like empanadas, chili croquettes, kelp noodle pad Thai with almond butter sauce, and a pizza made of sprouted wheat berry crust, cashew cheese, marinara and red onions. There are also desserts, such as lemon squares and tiramisu. 

The recipes have all been created by Gaza and her team, and she says switching to a raw vegan diet has improved her health tenfold. That breakthrough inspired her to launch Chicago Raw to help others achieve a similar enlightenment.

“You don’t have to sign a contract. You can take baby steps and be open to looking at your plate—if 50% of it is animal protein, maybe back it down to a third or a quarter and then fill the rest of your plate with really high quality plant-based items,” Gaza said.

Awareness for alternative diets is higher than it’s ever been, according to Gaza, and at the end of the day, she hopes customers get more than just delicious food out of the Chicago Raw experience. 

“I hope that they’re inspired and the next meal that they consume, they’ll be open to taking a look at what they’re eating and eating a little healthier and taking a little more responsibility for their health so that they feel better,” Gaza said, adding “people that have clear minds and eat healthy, you know, live longer and have happier lives.”

You can check out Chicago Raw at Time Out Market Chicago seven days a week (Monday through Saturday from 11am–10pm, Sunday 11am–9pm).

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