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The best vegan and vegetarian barbecue in Chicago

Ditch the tired old black bean burgers and veggie skewers for more flavorful plant-based BBQ this summer

Emma Krupp
Written by
Emma Krupp
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Everyone loves a summer barbecue—and thankfully for folks who don't eat meat, we've come a long way from the days where the only veggie-friendly options plucked from the grill were zucchini kebabs and soggy portobello burgers. Now, tons of grocery stores and Chicago restaurants have dipped their toes into the vast world of plant-based meat creations, grilling up everything from tender jackfruit pulled pork to flame-kissed vegan burgers that give the real deal a run for its money. Channel that backyard cookout energy this summer with meat-free BBQ dishes from the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Chicago and a handful of barbecue stalwarts. Whether you're a vegetarian looking for BBQ sauce-slathered veggie dishes or a meat-eater in search of alternatives, these restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian barbecue will keep you satisfied all summer long.

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Best vegan and vegetarian barbecue in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • South Shore

Majani is a vegan mainstay in Chicago, with locations in South Shore, the South Loop and One Eleven Food Hall, and its expansive menu houses enough BBQ-friendly choices to please a whole horde of vegan diners. Go for the delicately-battered, sauce-coated fried BBQ cauliflower when you're in the mood for something a little crunchy, or the thin-sliced BBQ roast sandwich (concocted from soy and wheat) to quell cravings for classic BBQ.

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

Known as Original Soul Vegetarian for almost four decades, Soul Veg City embraced a new name, debuted renovated digs and expanded its menu in early 2021 in honor of its 40th year of cooking up delectable plant-based dishes in Chatham. For a summery barbecue meal, grab one of the restaurant's famous Down Home BBQ Twist sandwiches, made with seitan and topped with raw onion, lettuce and tomato, or the thin-sliced Pulled Soul sliders.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Uptown
  • price 1 of 4

Though it's menu is not exclusively vegetarian, this eclectic cafe—which moved from its longtime home in Wrigleyville to a new Uptown location in 2020—serves up a generous list of meat-free options, including a BBQ seitan sandwich (playfully referred to as a “sammitch”) piled with crispy housemade onion rings. Veg diners can also opt for a vegan flame-grilled burger stacked with all the toppings you'd find in a respectable summer barbecue spread.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • River West/West Town

Housemade seitan might have been the vegan protein to launch Upton's Naturals to the meat-free aisle of your local grocer, but we're especially fond of the Bar-B-Que Jackfruit Sandwich available at the factory's adjoining restaurant in West Town. Pair it with the restaurant's rotating list of vegan soft serve flavors for dessert, and don't forget to snag a few packages of the tangy jackfruit to take home for your next backyard barbecue.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Hyde Park

Plant-based burgers, hot dogs and brats abound at this Hyde Park vegan joint. Grab a 1/4 pound “Who Betta” burger, which comes equipped with a side of seasoned fries—add bacon and make it a double if you're extra hungry. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegan
  • Chatham

Feast on flame-broiled vegan burgers, onion-topped brats and more plant-based riffs on junk food at this Avalon Park restaurant, which debuted in 2020. The smothered brat, layered with grilled onions, mustard and sport peppers and served atop a steamed pretzel roll, comes with a side of hand-cut fries—grab it to go and eat in a park for best results.

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

Bored of endless faux-meat concoctions? Logan Square vegan-friendly stalwart Ground Control keeps it simple with Asian BBQ tofu wings, served coated in sauce alongside a carrot-cucumber-onion slaw. There's also a housemade beet burger to contend with, offering a slightly unusual (but no less delicious) take on the traditional veggie burger.

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