Chicago is one of my all-time favorite cities. Though I was born and raised outside The Second City, my dad went to grad school in Chicago and I have been experiencing its beauty since before I could walk. Chicago offers the best of both worlds – you can enjoy the excitement of non-stop city life in a huge metropolis, while also feeling the kindness and authenticity of people around you. Chicagoans aren’t jaded, and neither is Chicago’s delicious vegan food! Here is my guide to some of the most delicious cruelty-free eats (and drinks) in the Windy City.
Vegan and vegan-friendly places to eat in Chicago
Rangoli: the most delicious and authentic vegan-friendly Indian food outside of Little India
I heard a lot about this amazing restaurant from online reviews and articles. I am Indian myself, and have been visiting and eating in Devon Street (Chicago’s ‘Little India’) from early age. Rangoli, however, is located in Humboldt Park, and is absolutely the best Indian food in the city without having to drive all the way north to Devon Street!
When I looked at their menu online, I nearly screamed and jumped out of my seat, realizing they serve a dish called Gobi Manchurian! I last ate this dish when I was visiting family in India and I haven’t been able to find anywhere in Chicago that makes it properly since. It’s a fusion of Chinese and Indian flavors; a semi-fried cauliflower dish with crispy herbs. It’s the perfect blend of spicy and sweet – do yourself a favor and order this if you haven’t already! The menu also has tons of vegan appetizers and mains. Be sure to try a few different items and share with friends.
Eat (your pizza) off beat at Dimo’s
The location I am referring to (there are two) is the Wicker Park (6 Corners) location, which has vegan pizza slices daily. This place is awesome! In addition to the classic variety, they do unusual toppings such as a vegan Philly cheese steak, vegan mac and cheese and even a vegan s’mores slice! Definitely go here if you want to eat outside the box!
The slices are bigger than your head, really cheap and not at all greasy. Be sure to ask for a FREE cup of their homemade vegan ranch as a yummy condiment for any slice you choose!
Head to Fritz Pastry for the best vegan brunch and bakes
This vegan place does amazing vegan doughnuts, cakes, and pastries. The owner even makes her own vegan Pop Tarts! Come here for the most amazing vegan doughnut you’ve ever had in your life (the size of your head!) and a filling and hearty brunch with friends! I got a vegan ‘soul bowl’ breakfast here, which was made up of biscuits and gravy, vegan cheese, potatoes, tofu and red peppers. It was so delicious and really hit the spot; it was also a super unique take on breakfast, which I loved!
Wormhole Coffee = my favorite funky little café
An old-school TV showing Super Mario Brothers, 80s and 90s memorabilia on the wall and a huge replica of the De Lorean (Vintage Back to the Future replica car) adorn this eclectic little café in the heart of Wicker Park. While I’m not a coffee person, I’m in love with their rich, vegan hot chocolate! If you are a coffee person, you can find everything from vegan-friendly lattes, to espressos and unique, seasonal drinks. I love coming here to work, relax and catch up with friends.
This place also carries pastries from Fritz (see above), so if you are craving something sweet, you’re in luck, because they have lots of vegan options! One of my favorites? The vegan Twinkies!
If you know and love Upton’s Naturals, you will love their awesome 100% vegan café attached to their headquarters in Chicago. When I first visited, I got the vegan bacon mac and cheese, a chocolate vegan soft serve, and a dark chocolate and lavender.
The mac and cheese was a pleasant surprise – it’s not your typical, run-of-the-mill vegan mac. It’s got a distinct flavor that’s absolutely delicious! The dark chocolate and lavender cookie was to DIE for. I love all things chocolate and all things lavender so I pretty much knew this cookie was made for me!! Ooey gooey, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. And last, I had the chocolate vegan soft serve! The only other place that has vegan soft serve is Chicago Health Foods, so be sure to treat yourself to this when you go!
Go to Urban Vegan for their famous Orange Chick’n
There’s only one way to describe the Orange Chicken: Holy Flavor Explosion! Please, Veg-Heads of Chitown, do yourselves a favor and go to Urban Vegan immediately and order the Orange Chick’n – it is quite possibly the BEST Thai dish I have ever had! The breading, the orange glaze sauce (which actually comes with fresh oranges in it) and the flavor and texture of the soy “chicken” were all beyond perfection! Best. Dish. Ever.
This vegan restaurant also offers a huge assortment of curries, noodle dishes and authentic Thai desserts. They only use high quality steamed black rice in their dishes so you get even more nutrients in your already tasty meal! P.S. Be sure to try the deep-fried banana dessert and vegan Thai iced tea!
The sexiest juice you’ll ever drink at Owen + Alchemy!
This is the sleekest juice apothecary you will ever find! I first saw their products and juices at the local Dose Market and thought their packaging was just as beautiful as a skincare product. They put so much time and energy into every single thing they do here and it really shows. I also love that it is part juice shop and part apothecary, with herbal blends you can get for different requirements such as immunity, calmness, healthy digestion, etc. They have the classic juices here, such as their green juices, but also a lot of seasonal and unusual juices, such as one with sweet potato which I found interesting and delicious.
They have recently come out with raw vegan smoothie bowls which are INSANELY delicious, nutritious and filling! Owen + Alchemy seriously sets itself apart from any other juice place I have been to ever.
Vegan groups and vegan events in Chicago
If you are looking to meet up and associate with fellow vegans, whether by attending vegan holiday meals, going to vegan potlucks and volleyball events on the beach along Lake Shore Drive, or other social opportunities, Chicago has you covered!
Groups like Vegan Chicago Meetup, Chicago Veg Meetup, and the Vegan Chicago Facebook page are a great place to start when finding vegan communities in Chicago. There is so much support and great advice in these groups, and I myself have made many lifelong friendships by attending events which have been held through these groups!
Annual vegan events
Annual events such as the Chicago Veggie Pride Parade and the Chicago Veganmania festival are wonderful places to take action against cruelty to animals. Both events grow each year and bring lots of attention to the plant-based lifestyle. Chicago Veganmania festival features countless talks by vegan activists and influencers from local, national and international levels, as well as food demos, and food samples from vegan and cruelty-free restaurants. The parade, which takes place in downtown Chicago, is also a great spot to get to know local vegans and businesses that you can enjoy year round.
As you can see, Chicago has lots to offer us vegans, from delicious food, drinks and cafes to a thriving vegan community; and as our community keeps growing, I am constantly meeting fellow, compassionate veg-heads! It’s incredible to be a part of it all.
Cover image: TVW.