Monday, June 20, 2011

Vegan Chicago: Restaurants & Chef Showdown!

As many of you may know, I am a Chicago Outreach Coordinator with Mercy For Animals. One of the many campaigns of MFA is our Vegetarian Dining Campaign. MFA works with restaurants to add vegan options to their menu and provides them with the support, PR, and connections to get soy cheese, faux meat, etc.

Recently, some great work was done by MFA in Chicago with the Vegetarian Dining Campaign. El Nuevo Mexicano has added vegan quesadillas, flautas, chile rellanos, enchiladas, fajitas, and more. There is even non-dairy, cruelty-free dessert! Daiya and local master seitan makers, Upton's Naturals, provide the vegan cheese and faux meat. A friend of mine and I went there for lunch to check out the new menu and were floored! We had never had flautas or chimichangas before, but I bet these were better than any filled with meat and dairy cheese. If you are in the neighborhood, come out and support the new vegan menu at El Nuevo Mexicano. Click here for the full new vegan menu. For more information, check out MFA's blog post here.
Grilled Cheeze Sandwich with Daiya from LooseLeaf Lounge
Tomorrow, MFA is having a launch party for a new vegan menu at another Chicago restaurant, LooseLeaf Lounge. They have already had a great vegan sandwich up on their menu, but it has been expanded to include a grilled cheeze sandwich, a seitan sandwich, a chorizo seitan wrap, a vegetable sandwich, and vegan cookies. Again, the cheese is provided by Daiya and the seitan by Upton's Naturals. If you are free tomorrow and in Chicago, check out the event! Click here for the Facebook event page for more information. This new menu is permanent, by the way!

I'd been aware of vegan pizza with vegan cheese from several different places here in Chicago including Ian's Pizza (also has Upton's Naturals seitan), Mista (not at their downtown location, though), Karyn's Cooked (to be expected, they're a vegan restaurant), Moonshine, and Pick Me Up Cafe (they have a very extensive vegan-friendly menu). Pie Hole Pizza Joint also carries pizza with Daiya which I just found out about. Thought I would share the news up on here since I'm updating about vegan restaurants! Here is a list of places that carries vegan pizza in Chicago. 

Pad Thai with soy chiken from Urban Vegan Chicago
Two new restaurants that have opened in Chicago in the past few months include Urban Vegan Chicago and Earth's Healing Cafe. Urban Vegan is a Thai vegan restaurant. Though I haven't been there yet, I can't wait to try it out. I've heard really good things from people who have gone. Their menu uses a variety of faux meats including soy chiken and vegan seafood. Earth's Healing Cafe is a raw organic cafe that boasts smoothies, juices, several entrees (pasta, wrap, pâté), and desserts (cheezecake, fruit pie, apple pie). If you are looking for a healthy, light meal, this is the new place to be! Also coming to town in July are three new locations of Native Foods, based primarily in California.  As a California native, I've heard fantastic things about this vegan chain for years now. I haven't tried it out myself, but I've had friends who have (and even were nice enough to bring me a reusable bag all the way to Chicago) and they all love it dearly. Native Foods makes their own vegan cheese which I hear is to die for (also, very impressive!). I'm looking forward to not one, but all three new Native Foods here in Chicago! I'm not sure of where all the new locations are to be, but for sure one will be in Wicker Park.

Lastly to report about here in Chicago is the very anticipated Chicago Vegan Chef Showdown sponsored by Upton's Naturals with the help of the Funky Buddha Lounge. All proceeds from the event will go to benefit Mercy For Animals. Twenty chefs will battle it out with yummy vegan food that includes Upton's Naturals seitan and the team or person whose food was bought the most wins the showdown. Guess what? Vegan Miss is participating! So, come out and show your support for Vegan Miss, MFA, and Upton's Naturals! We'll be serving a VM specialty that we're super excited to share (how often does the blogger get to cook the recipes she writes for her readers, huh?!). The more people come and show support by buying VM's delicious food ($1 per sample), the more money goes to MFA and their life-saving work. Win for everyone! Excited!


Second City Vegan said...

Quesadilla (2235 N Western), a Mexican Vegetarian Restaurant with vegan options, is also new to the area.
Check out my review for more info:

Anonymous said...

Shout out to La Cocina in Logan Square for offering Upton's Naturals in their tacos and burritos as well!,Chicago,+IL&cid=12212927662339278445

Amy Lynn said...

Thank you soo much for all this info! I live right near Chicago, so excited to try all these place!!

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