’s dining scene has come a long way from its meat-and-potatoes roots. These days, you can find veggie-centric menus anywhere from a corner coffee shop to a Michelin-starred restaurant. Here are a few must-try vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the Windy City.
Restaurant, North American, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Vegetarians flock to this Wicker Park hipster haven for comfort food with a vegetarian twist. Customer favorites at Handlebar include the fried avocado tacos – served with cabbage slaw, tomatoes, queso fresco, refried beans, and house-made ranch – and the pepita scramble, which includes your choice of scrambled eggs or tofu and comes with sweet potatoes, red peppers, kale, poblanos, and a pumpkin seed pesto. A majority of the menu can also be prepared vegan upon request.
Restaurant, Contemporary, Vegetarian, $$$
With three Michelin stars and a James Beard Award for Best Chef, Grace is one of the highest-profile vegetarian-friendly restaurants in town. The menu features two tasting menus: Fauna (for meat eaters) and Flora (for vegetarians). Both menus are updated seasonally, with the current Flora menu consisting of nine courses, which includes plates such as purple sweet potato with coconut, Buddha’s hand, and Thai basil or trumpet royale mushrooms served with oats, persimmon, and sea cress. This high-end experience also comes with a high-end price tag – $235 per person; reservations are a must.
Mana Food Bar
Restaurant, Vegetarian, Japanese, American, Thai, Gluten-free, $$$
The pocket-sized Mana Food Bar, located in Wicker Park, specializes in global vegetarian plates. Most dishes come in two sizes – small and large – making it possible to try a lot of the menu offerings in one trip. Order the rice noodles served with spicy Thai lemongrass and basil curry, sweet potatoes, green beans and topped with chili peanuts, or try the customer favorite brown rice and mushroom burger, served with a spicy mayo. Mana also serves vegan and gluten-free fare.
Restaurant, Vegetarian, $$$
Another option for vegetarians looking for an upscale dining experience, Green Zebra offers small plates dreamed up by James Beard Award-winning chef, Shawn McClain. Menus here change to highlight seasonal produce. For diners who have trouble choosing what to order, the Chef’s Tasting Menu is a safe bet (a recent five-course menu included sweet corn soup with pickled shiitake mushrooms and arugula pesto, and orange chiffon cake with blueberry frozen yogurt, orange caramel, and whipped goat cheese).