Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★
Service: ★★ ★★
Food Quality: ★★★★
Overall Rating: ★★★★
Mana Food Bar is a staple for vegetarians and it has an assortment of unique and eclectic flavors. I love the fact that I can come here and be able to eat everything on the menu, I am not quarantined to a quarter of the menu options. It’s so nice to have all of these delicious options here.
The ambience/decor make it a great place for a more intimate experience whether it is with friends or a date. I like that it is dimly lit and has a very sharp, contemporary aesthetic. The outdoor patio is also a gem in the summer. The service here has always been good. Sometimes I feel a little rushed by the servers, but everyone has been very nice and friendly. They have great cocktail options with unique flavors as well. But what takes the cake here is their diverse and delicious menu options.
Come here with the intention of sharing because you’ll get to try as much food as possible then. Everything is made to be shared but what’s nice is that if you come with a larger group, then they have larger sizes that can be shared, which makes it convenient for both small and large groups.
We started out with the Panzanella salad, which is basically a toast bread salad with a light vinaigrette, grape tomatoes, shallots, and cucumbers. The bread was toasted to perfection and soaked up the dressing really nicely. We also each got a slider and they had a nice texture and flavor. The mini Hawaiian bun was toasted nicely with a bit of spicy mayo on top of the patty. The patty was made from mushrooms and brown rice, which tasted very fresh.
The only dish we got that was a little disappointing was the Mapo Tofu. It had tofu chunks with sweet potatoes and both the tofu and potatoes were made really well but I expected there to be more of a mapo sweet and sour sauce to it. The sauce in Mapo Tofu is my favorite part of the dish so getting it without the sauce was kind of disappointing. It was’t bad, just not that exciting because there isn’t really a sauce.
But the gnocchi was delicious. The gnocchi had a soft, delicate texture that went really well with the crunchier zucchini and the tomato glaze. The asiago was also a perfect touch with its more prominent flavor. Our last dish was the saag paneer, which is one of my favorites. It’s a twist on the traditional saag paneer so it’s not the creamy spinach sauce.
It is a unique interpretation of the traditional saag paneer. The paneer was made perfectly and grilled or charred. The spinach was fresh and served with the paneer in a lighter yogurt sauce. Now I usually don’t like yogurt but this yogurt sauce is very light and the yogurt isn’t a super intense flavor at all. It’s served over brown rice which provides a foundation for the spinach and paneer.
This place is also more affordable for a smaller plates type of restaurant. It for sure is a staple of mine and I can’t wait for the next time!