Get us in your inbox

Search
althea
Photograph: Dave Markowski

The 14 best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Chicago

Serving vegan milkshakes and tofu wings, these are our favorite meat-free spots in Chicago.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen
Advertising

Chicago has long been known for its piled-high hot dogs and messy Italian beef sandwiches, but that doesn't mean that we don't eat our veggies. In fact, the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Chicago come in all shapes and sizes: Some are uber-healthy and all-raw, while others emulate indulgent meaty favorites. And over the last 10 years or so, a new wave of veggie-forward restaurants has created a happy middle ground for everyone to enjoy. Whether you're on the hunt for a vegan milkshake, tofu wings or a salad filled with goodies from nearby farms, there's a spot on this list for you. Take a look at the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best restaurants in Chicago

Vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Boystown
  • price 1 of 4

Even non-vegetarians know Chicago Diner. The vibe is that of a normal, everyday diner, albeit with soy whip, tofu and tempeh on the giant menu. And since the concept has been serving Chicagoans since 1983, you better believe they've got some tried-and-true eats on offer. The housemade tamales are topped with pepita mole verde, while the Thai chili wings are coated in a chili-lime marinade and served with Sriracha ranch dipping sauce. It doesn't matter what time of day it is—a vegan milkshake is always in order at Chicago Diner.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • South Shore

What started as a private catering company has blossomed into a brick-and-mortar empire that acts as a beacon for Chicago's vegan community. With locations in South Shore, the South Loop and inside One Eleven Food Hall, Majani keeps our mouths watering with meat-defying creations like the stacked barbecue roast sandwich, which is slathered in tangy sauce and served with roasted sweet potatoes. Be sure to save room for dessert: The homemade vegan cakes and cookies are not to be missed.

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Wicker Park
  • price 1 of 4

The multiple bike racks out back are packed with every kind of two-wheeler imaginable, no matter the time of year at this biker bar (and by biker, we mean bicycle-r). Eco-minded folks come together over tasty meat-free fare, like fried avocado tacos, sambal tofu and something called Vegan Chili Mac Attack (just trust us on this one). An ample list of diverse drafts rounds out the experience.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Greater Grand Crossing
  • price 1 of 4

Located in Chatham, Original Soul Vegetarian has been "serving food as medicine" to Chicagoans for more than 30 years. For vegans looking to escape boring lentil hell, the “BBQ Twist” platter is as close to real barbecue pulled pork as you'll get, and somehow the fried cauliflower tastes like chicken. If you have the time, sit for the full Sunday Supper: salad with tangy house dressing, "chicken" pot pie, collard greens, corn and potatoes. The vegan apple or peach pie that follows may not be conventionally healthy, but that was never the point of soul food.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • River West/West Town

House-made seitan is the base for most menu items at Upton’s Breakroom, a bright little café attached to Upton’s Naturals, a company that makes seitan and sells it in stores across the country. The café has a plentiful menu, including a tofu-seitan banh mi, a BBQ jackfruit sandwich and Korean tacos with housemade kimchi. For dessert, it's all about the chocolate chip cookies, crafted with oats, sunflower seeds and cacao nibs.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Logan Square
  • price 1 of 4

The vegetarian fare at this Logan Square café leans heavily on faux meats like tofu and seitan, which get used in approximations of carnivore favorites like chicken wings and Italian beef. Does the food taste like chicken or beef? No. But stuffed into crunchy Baja-style tacos, or layered into a spicy po’ boy sandwich, it is—somehow—just as satisfying, particularly when coupled with something from the small, but impressive, beer list.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Uptown
  • price 1 of 4

Once a Wrigleyville institution, this veggie organic alternative to late-night grease moved a couple blocks up Clark Street to Uptown in 2020, bringing some of its vintage hodgepodge decor and Haight-Ashbury vibes along with it. Thankfully, Pick Me Up Café remains a place where you'll find vegetarian- and vegan-friendly fare alongside diner grub made with meat. Start out with a bowl of vegan mac and cheeze or some vegan mozzarella stix and then dig into an eggplant grinder or tostadas topped with tofu. And if you need a real pick me up, you can grab coffee and espresso drinks made with oat, soy and almond milk.

  • Restaurants
  • Wicker Park

If you're into the idea of a plant-based diet but can't fathom giving up sweets, pasta and sushi, the menu at Uncooked might pique your interest. With locations in Fulton Market and Wicker Park, the vegan spot offers uncooked, plant-based eats that emulate dishes like ravioli, ramen, sesame noodles and cacio e pepe. There are juices and smoothies, too, but perhaps most intriguing are the cakes, which are free of gluten and sugar but taste deliciously decadent (chocolate almond butter is a fan-favorite). Even sweeter, Uncooked is a family operation that's helmed by Carole Jones, her son (Jeremy Jones) and his wife (Kaitlyn Jones)—a trio that's dedicated their lives to feeling good through food.

Advertising

Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat

When you see the food coming out of the kitchen, the name of this Hyde Park restaurant makes perfect sense. The "flexitarian" menu puts plant-based products on a pedestal, forging a delectable path ahead for those who are transitioning to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. The loaded Philly cheesesteak and the meatless Chicago dog might distract you, but you're here for the "Who Betta" burger, which finds a quarter-pound Impossible patty dressed up with fresh greens, tomato, pickles, grilled red onions, Epitome sauce and cheese (go vegan or dairy).

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Lake View
  • price 1 of 4

Vegans and vegetarians who love Thai food can breathe a sigh of relief. This may look like every other neighborhood joint, but there is no fish sauce hiding in the peanut satay nor egg wash coating the spring rolls: Everything on the menu is 100 percent vegan. Omnivores won’t notice a difference in dishes like a fragrant green curry rife with Japanese eggplant or curried tofu skewers with chunky peanut sauce. If you need a “meat” fix, the light faux-chicken is benign enough; the chewy, heavy faux-steak seitan, however, is best left to the leaf-eaters.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Jewish
  • Uptown

Traditional Jewish delis are synonymous with carnivorous delights, from pastrami and corned beef to lox. Imagine our surprise, then, when a Jewish vegan deli opened in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. What could easily sway into blasphemy is made lovable by husband-and-wife team Andy and Gina Kalish, who painstakingly recreate the classics sans meat. Vegan versions of smoked whitefish, corned beef, pastrami and lox grace the menu, as do iconic add-ons like homemade bagels, latkes and giant black and white cookies.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Lake View

This vegan café in Lakeview focuses on foods made with its house-made seitan, a meat substitute crafted from wheat flour dough. Find the protein-rich gluten in menu favorites like the crave-worthy deep dish pizza and the super saucy chicken parm sandwich. There's also a decent selection of five burgers, with patties made from a medley of ground and roasted veggies plus soy protein and chickpea flour.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • West Ridge
  • price 1 of 4

Carnivores seem to think that without meat on their plates they’d starve. But this 100 percent vegetarian South Indian spot puts an end to that theory with its famous dosa—a gigantic cumin-, potato- and onion-filled rice and lentil crêpe that comes in a dozen varieties. Other good bets include baingan bharta (a roasted eggplant rice dish) and the “Madras-style” okra curry that regulars swear by.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Streeterville

Ladies who lunch go vegan at Matthew Kenney's 100 percent plant-based restaurant located on the seventh floor of Saks Fifth Avenue on the Magnificent Mile. The California chef helms similar concepts around the globe, from Baltimore to Bogota and San Fran to Sydney. Here in Chicago, he sends guests globetrotting with dishes like the barbacoa tacos, which are loaded with meaty maitake and oyster mushrooms, as well as the fan-favorite kelp noodle cacio e pepe.

Dig into more local eats

  • Restaurants

Like most great food cities, Chicago is a veritable melting pot of cultures. The metro area is home to strong, vibrant immigrant communities that have not only shaped the city's neighborhoods but have also infused the food scene with rich, traditional eats. Check out the most iconic Chicago foods you have to try.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising