It seems that most people think the only vegetarian restaurant in Chicago is The Chicago Diner. Though I do enjoy the restaurant, there are definitely other options for people who don’t eat meat (and even those who do!).
One of my recent discoveries is a place called Native Foods. It is a chain restaurant that has a few locations across the country, and it just so happens that three of these locations are right here in Chicago. Venture into the Loop, Lakeview or Wicker Park, and you’ll find Native Foods.
Though some people may be put off by the fact that this place is not an old-fashioned sit-down restaurant, I like the ease and quick service that their Panera or Pompeii-esque setup provides. Their staff is friendly and extremely helpful if you have questions about the menu.
Native Foods boasts a vegan menu with a wide array of items that are also gluten free. With restrictions like that, one would think their food would be bland and boring. However, I am continually amazed by their generous portion sizes, the amount of flavor in each dish, and the amount of fruits and vegetables in each meal.
One of my favorites is the Ghandi Bowl. Broccoli, carrots, kale and green onions are layered on top of a mixture of jasmine and brown rice. The vegetables are cooked exactly the way I like- steamed so that they aren’t too crunchy, but not so much that they lose their essential crispiness. A curry sauce is drizzled on top, but it’s not overly pungent, and not spicy at all. The Tempeh adds another texture into the mix, and a handful of cranberries sprinkled on top adds a surprising (but delicious) sweetness.