We rounded up the best Chicago vegan restaurants to help you find fresh, healthy, local meals. They’re well worth a look regardless of your eating preference.
What is a vegan restaurant? Should I be scared?
Not at all.
Simply put, vegan restaurants don’t serve animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and sometimes even honey. However, the menus at these places aren’t necessarily limited – they include many familiar dishes using tofu and other meat alternatives, which have come a long way from the early days of Tofurky… If this grosses you out, you can stick to noodle bowls, salads, sandwiches, or other options.
We don’t take a stance on the vegan lifestyle, but we do believe that eating an occasional vegan meal can be a good thing. The food at these places tends to be fresh, thoughtful, and healthy. The service tends to be friendly and accommodating (even to carnivores), and many meals are surprisingly priced under $10.
What are the best Chicago vegan restaurants?
Loving Heart | Uptown | 773-561-5399
Loving Heart, which opened last November in the former Purple Cow space, has quickly become a trendy destination for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone else who appreciates fresh ingredients. The space, like the food, is bright and refreshing. The menu has enough options to satisfy any craving, including soups, salads, wraps, soy burgers, and noodle bowls. You can get a great meal for less than $10, but it’s worth spending an extra $6.50 on the nacho chips, which you’ll find a way to eat even if you’re stuffed. Wash it all down with a coconutty smoothie or organic soda.
Kitchen 17 | Lakeview | 773-661-1757
Kitchen 17 is a relatively new addition to the vegan-friendly Lakeview neighborhood. It bills itself as a vegan cafe, but the BYOB policy (with no corkage fee) also makes it an attractive dinner option. The menu covers a wide variety of Middle Eastern and American dishes, including burgers, gyros, schwarma, and pizza. They also sprinkle in a little TexMex in the form of nachos, tacos, and burritos. It has been compared to Native Foods and Chicago Diner – both great options – but Kitchen 17 stands out for its affordable prices, delivery options, and AWESOME pizza.
Upton’s Breakroom | Ukrainian Village | 312-666-7838
Although Upton’s Naturals has been producing seitan since 2006, it wasn’t until last summer that they decided to serve it directly to customers. The result is Upton’s Breakroom, a small vegan restaurant attached to the company’s packing plant on Grand Avenue. The reasonably-priced menu features five sandwiches and a few delicious sides. As you may expect, seitan is the central ingredient in most options, appearing in bacon, pastrami, and italian flavors. The space can only accommodate about 10 diners, but delivery is available for a $5 fee. Also check out their by-donation yoga center.
Urban Vegan | Multiple Locations
Urban Vegan is a great choice if you’re looking to splash a little Thai into your veganism. The menu reads like your average Asian restaurant, except the meat is substituted by soy-based alternatives (including options for chicken, steak, fish, and shrimp). The portions are huge and reasonably priced, including lunch and dinner specials for $10-12. If you don’t live near Lincoln Park or Lakeview, you can order online through Eat24 (accessible via their website). Delivery takes about an hour.
Karyn’s on Green | Near West Side | 312-226-6155
Karyn’s on Green is a contemporary vegan restaurant located in an expansive space in Greektown. Their tagline, “making vegan sexy”, is reflected in the 22-seat bar as well as a stylish upstairs lounge. The menu features a variety of flavors, including soups, salads, pastas, and more. If your diet is even more restrictive than vegan, you’ll be happy to know that the menu includes raw, gluten free, soy free, and nut/seed free options. For a special occasion kind of place, the prices are pretty reasonable.
Native Foods Cafe | Multiple Locations
Native Foods Cafe was started 20 years ago in Palm Springs and has since grown to nearly 20 locations across the country, including four in Chicago (and another coming to Hyde Park in March). The menu encompasses the best flavors from several cuisines, including Moroccan, Greek, Mexican, and American. Honestly, you won’t even realize you’re at a vegan restaurant. It’s easily one of the best lunch options in the city and the locations are accessible from pretty much any neighborhood.
Chicago Raw | Multiple Locations
As you can guess by the name, Chicago Raw specializes in uncooked, 100% plant-based meals. After becoming a highlight of the French Market, the founders opened a second location across from the Whole Foods in River North. The space is small, but the menu variety is enormous, featuring salads, sandwiches, pastas, spreads, snacks, and more. They also serve a variety of smoothies and fresh juices, including coconut water that is far superior to what you can find at a grocery store. The prices are well worth the quality.
B’Gabs Goodies | HYDE PARK | 773-363-1505
B’Gabs Goodies is a great vegan restaurant (and more) near the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. As some Yelpers have pointed out, this spot really is a hidden gem – located on a quiet street near the east side of campus – but it’s well worth finding. The menu is 100% gluten-free, soy-free, peanut-free, and agave-free, yet the food is packed with flavor. Options include burgers, burritos, pad thai, and other favorites. B’Gabs also maintain an active calendar of events, including yoga, meditation, and other workshops.
Loving Hut | Edgewater | 773-275-8797
What does Edgewater have in common with Hong Kong, Vietnam, Tokyo, and San Francisco? Well, not much, except they’re all lucky enough to have a Loving Hut (not to be confused with Loving Heart). The menu of this international chain includes Asian-based favorites like hand-made dumplings, spring rolls, Korean BBQ, curry, and more, all priced under $10. The restaurant has a respectable drink selection (including a banana chocolate shake), although the dessert menu appropriately captures most of the attention.
Soul Vegetarian | Greater Grand Crossing | 773-451-9796
Soul Vegetarian is a family-owned vegan restaurant serving southern comfort food on the south side. The food is 100% plant-based and uses no refined sugars, flours, or rice. Options include BBQ roasts, burgers, gyros, falafel, and more. Some of the side dishes are not exactly easy on the fat (battered onion rings, fries, nachos, etc.) but they ARE vegan and ARE delicious.
- Yah’s Cuisine serves a rotating selection of organic vegan comfort food in the South Shore.
- Amitabul offers noodle soups, dumplings, and other Asian cuisine in Norwood Park.
- Arya Bhavan serves vegan Indian cuisine in West Rogers Park.
- Karyn’s Raw specializes in juices, smoothies, and sandwiches in Lincoln Park.
Please note that Green Zebra, MANA Food Bar, Delicious Cafe, The Chicago Diner, and other great restaurants do not appear on this list because they are not strictly vegan. However, they will be featured in our upcoming article on the best vegetarian restaurants in Chicago. Stay tuned.