Thanksgiving and many other holidays can be very meat-centric, but it doesn’t have to be! I have been making this Tofu Stuffing Casserole for 10 years now and I bring it to every Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, and Holiday party. It is always well-received and devoured by family and friends. It’s a great source of protein and has soooo much flavor!
One of my favorite Chinese dishes to eat is Mapo Tofu. I love the tongue-numbing features of the Szechuan peppercorns, the depth of chili flavors in the sauce, and the texture of the soft tofu that perfectly absorbs the sultry sauce. There are only a few restaurants I have been to that do Mapo Tofu excellently. I have been disappointed with most so I set out to make one of my favorite Chinese dishes from the Szechuan province. You can make this as mild or spicy as you prefer!
A restaurant of this caliber will cost you an arm and a leg, but it truly is a delightful experience with excellent service and memorable food. I will always look back on this experience fondly. I don’t tend to go to places like Spiaggia but I had an incredible food night here and recommend it for special occasions.
Ful is a perfect weekday snack, appetizer at a party, and veggie barbecue accompaniment during those warm, but limited summer months. And best of all it’s ethically guilt free insofar as it’s a vegan snack that is quite healthy and nutritious. You can find Fava Beans in the international section of most grocery stores.
While Machine is pricey, it is not just one of those instagrammable places without substance. Their drinks are fascinating, their plates are tasty and provide you those carbs to soak up their fancy cocktails. So go ahead and give Machine a try because you are bound to at least like one of their eclectic concoctions. Check out my bar reviews for more cocktail options.
The menu items are slightly different though from the one in Seattle. I found the options at the Seattle No Bones to be healthier and this was one of the reasons I was particularly eager to have one of these in Chicago. You see, Chicago has some great plant-based restaurants but they tend to have a lot of guilt-provoking, vegan junk food. I am all about eating this but I also like not feeling bloated. I was disappointed to see that some of the healthier options they had in Seattle were not offered at this one in Chicago (bring back the vegan sushi rolls please).
Logan Square’s ever so lauded CBD cocktail bar, Young American is as promising as it sounds ranging from the fun cocktail options to the ambience and carefully curated food. It’s a vast space as it has room in the back to chill out, relax, and drink in dim lighting with general soul/funk music playing from a DJ.
This recipe is perfect for a weeknight when you want something tasty and healthy but don’t have a lot of time. Upton’s and the Jackfruit Company also marinate their jackfruit ahead of time so you really don’t have to add that much flavor to them, but as someone who loves spicy, flavorful food, I still add many spices to fully bring out the flavor. You can easily eat these fajitas in a corn tortilla as a taco or just in a bowl by itself with some toppings. Either way it will be delicious.
Plant Chicago hosts a monthly farmers market and is also hosting the first of their Eating for Eight Billion meal series at Whiner Taproom this upcoming Sunday, April 14th from 1-3pm. Their meal series brings awareness of the world’s ever-growing population with the hope that people will become more aware of their daily choices as consumers and become agents of change. The first iteration of their meal series will include a 3-course vegan meal using Emergy Labs mycelium protein (derived from mushrooms) with a drink from Whiner Taproom.
Middle Brow Bungalow is the jack of all trades but the master of all things yeast. I am not a beer drinker so I haven’t had their beer but I am a huge fan of all things carbs so I have had their pizza and bread. I first went there for dinner on a quiet Sunday night the week they opened and found myself absolutely delighted with everything about this place.
Is Aviary just fluff? In my humble opinion, I thought the experience was worth every penny. And I have had some glorious cocktails in my days. The flavors were highly developed and were made to evolve throughout the night. Of course you can get excellent and more affordable cocktails in other neighborhoods, but the presentation and service are truly remarkable at The Aviary.
While I primarily post vegetarian recipes and restaurant reviews, I am an academic at heart who is committed to making philosophy understood by a wider audience. Vegetarianism is not just a healthy way of eating for me, but it is a means of active resistance against the unethical factory-farming industry. It is a way of life, a means of resisting so many oppressive structures in our society – though of course much more needs to happen than solely veganism.
Veganuary and Dry January are just a few of the goals people have been undertaking as a means of cleansing, changing, renewing, and growing. How hard is it to cut something out of your diet or to radically transform your diet and your relationship with food? While everyone may not become a sober vegan, there are many dietary changes people are undertaking – perhaps you are trying to cut meat out or eat smaller portions…
After doing some research and reviewing numerous restaurant week menus, I would say most restaurant week menus are not really made with pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans in mind. But there are a decent chunk of restaurants all over Chicago that have at least 1 pescatarian and/or vegetarian option on their prix-fixe menu. Here is a list I have compiled of the best restaurant week options for vegetarians and pescatarians…
When I do make brunch at home, I am going for healthy and tasty. So this is my interpretation of a somewhat healthy/tasty chilaquiles recipe. I had leftover ingredients from enchiladas I made a few days before so I thought why not make a brunch version of an enchilada with my favorite part of the enchiladas…the red sauce!
I absolutely love Indian food and now that the weather is getting colder, I’m craving thick, hearty sauces even more than I usually do (which is usually a lot even when it’s the summer). While Indian food has the reputation of being challenging to cook, it’s all about having the necessary spices on hand! I have always found cooking with spices a very intuitive process, which lends itself really well to Indian cooking.
Girl & the Goat seemed like this legendary restaurant that was so hard to get a reservation for. I made a reservation here months ago for a Friday night at 10:15pm (the best time I could get). Considering how busy this place is, I had very high expectations. I watched Stephanie Izard on Top Chef years ago and was very excited to finally try her classic, legendary restaurant…
As a foodie, flavor has always been the most important element of cuisine for me and Casa Yari (3268 W. Fullerton Ave.) did not disappoint. Casa Yari offers some extremely flavorful food that is nearly impossible to find anywhere else because what it is doing is extremely innovative. I also appreciate that Casa Yari is BYOB, adding to its affordability. It is the perfect spot for a chill dinner with friends over some red wine…
Best Intentions serves non-dive bar, dive bar realness. If it were a true dive bar, they wouldn’t have super delicious cocktails and I wouldn’t go here because dive bars can feel creepy if you’re not an old man. What I love about Best Intentions is that it has a chill, relaxed feel like a dive bar without the bad smell and depression. The ambience is charming and eclectic with a dysfunctional juke box and some funny video games…
Who doesn’t love a hearty piece of breaded eggplant smothered in marinara sauce and cheese?! Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite cozy dishes to make for a dinner party because it’s delicious, filling, and serves many people. However, there are many components to it and it can get time consuming. If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this, you can definitely make the components at different times or make some shortcuts (e.g. sauce in a jar)…
I recently had a slew of disappointing dining experiences. You know that sunken feeling in your stomach after everyone on Instagram hyped up the restaurant and you found yourself scratching your head wondering what the big deal was? Then realizing you were deceived because of sponsorships and superficial realities like that. I cautiously entered Etta wondering if it was actually going to be a delicious dining experience or whether it was going to be yet another hyped up disappointment fueled by Instagram. Etta (the E is lower case) was nowhere near a disappointment.
I feel like there’s a plethora of delicious taco joints throughout Chicago, but I have a hard time finding delicious Enchiladas in the city. Maybe I’m just not going to the right places, but the more authentic places tend to not have the best vegetarian options for their enchiladas even though their sauces are phenomenal. They are always vibrant and flavorful. One of my favorite “Mexican” dishes are enchiladas because of how saucy they are…
Bellemore is the less traditional, let your hair out sibling of Boca. While Boca is fine-dining and more traditional, Bellemore is a little more experimental and hip with similar price-points and a similar level of refinement and deliciousness. The layout and aesthetic reminded me of Proxi, another favorite restaurant of mine that is across the street from Bellemore. I wonder if Proxi’s aesthetic influenced Bellemore’s style or if it’s a mere coincidence. The lighting was just right without it being too dimly lit but not too overly bright where you feel like you’re in a mall.
I was inspired to cook Szechuan Eggplant after purchasing some Japanese eggplant from the farmers market. While I have cooked with regular eggplant many times, Japanese eggplant is long, lean, and purple. It’s absolutely beautiful. Szechuan eggplant is also quite simple to make, but you do need to baby the eggplant a bit since it is really easy to overcook and undercook it.
While Portland has plenty of dive bars located in unassuming street corners, it has quite a thriving international food scene. Not only do they have amazing vegan and vegetarian food, they have a prominent Indian and Vietnamese food scene. I also had Swedish food there, which is not really a popular European cuisine in the U.S., so that was refreshing. Did I fall in love with Portland the way I fell in love with Seattle? No. But I am so happy I was able to experience Portland in its sustainable, vegan glory.
Have you ever been to a vegan prix-fixe dinner? I hadn’t been or even heard of this amazing concept until I went to Seattle. Most prix-fixe restaurants in Chicago tend to be pretty meat-centric with a sprinkling of seafood and it’s kind of a pain to switch because you want to get your money’s worth. But we didn’t have to worry about this in Seattle. We could eat everything on the prix-fixe menu, as is, and not pay an arm and a leg at $65 per person. It is definitely a special occasion, but it is much more affordable than other prix-fixe experiences.
Mountains, evergreen trees, the Pacific Ocean, a haven for vegans – is the Pacific Northwest all its cracked out to be? Yes, it is, in every possible way. Is it the most racially diverse and cutting edge place? No. Is it celebrating sustainability and environmentalism? Yes…and they have a statue of Lenin. I didn’t know what to expect from Seattle and had grand expectations for Portland as a fan of Portlandia. I ended up falling in love with Seattle and as someone who isn’t an “outdoorsy” person, I fell in love with its gorgeous nature.
Lula has been part of the Logan Square community for 17 years prior to the more recent explosion of restaurants, bars, and cafes. I have had the pleasure of coming here for both brunch and dinner multiple times. While I am more of a fan of their dinner options, their brunch is also delicious and affordable. The environment is quaint and cute within a somewhat eclectic and charming space. Their patio is always packed full of diners on balmy summer nights. Their service has always been accommodating and the servers are knowledgeable and proud of their food.
Do you love grilling but are a vegetarian or vegan? While grilling in the Midwest tends to be meat-centric, you can go all out with delicious and satisfying plant-based options like Brussels sprouts. Just marinate the vegetables like you would need to marinate the meat and plan ahead a tiny bit so it can marinate for at least 30 minutes.
I’m happy to see a relatively affordable, quick, gourmet option in Logan Square where you can get a veggie burger for $10. I also appreciate that they are open all day and until 12am on weekends for us night owls! Take your meat loving and vegetarian friends to Mini Mott and enjoy the relaxed, unpretentious vibes and flavors.
You might have noticed a small shop that opened up in Logan Square by Mi Tocaya called Rosie’s Sidekick. What is it all about? Rosie’s Sidekick is a small, Italian sub shop that opened up a few months ago and aims to offer affordable Italian subs to the Logan Square community. While Logan Square has a plethora of restaurants, it is definitely in need of more affordable, quicker restaurants so I was happy to see Rosie’s Sidekick open.
Hosting or going to a dinner party? Not sure what to make? Want to bring something different from the usual cheese and crackers? A beet tartare crostini will not only impress your guests, it will also please your gut. While beets do take time to prepare, they are absolutely gorgeous and vibrant (oh and healthy) – I wanted to make a unique and fun appetizer for a dinner party I went to so I figured why not make a twist on a traditional beef tartare? The beet tartare crostini was not only beautiful to the eye but also extremely pleasing for the palate.
So what can I say, New Orleans is a weird city. I couldn’t live here, but I could live with the weather and all of its delicious food and cocktails. I appreciated the more relaxed vibe and how walkable of a city it is. It is easy to find what you’re looking for in NOLA, whether it’s a higher-end small plates restaurant or a binge when you’re hungover brunch spot. There are so many bars to choose from and with a selection of bars open till 5am or even 24 hours! If you’re looking for opulence or a chill night away from the tourists, you will be able to find your spot. Gritty and decadent, New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and flavors that will keep you coming for more.
My recent trip to New Orleans was quite inspiring when it came to trying and exploring new and dynamic flavors. I was exposed to amazingly delicious Creole and Cajun cuisine (and I learned that these are distinct from one another as well) and wanted to explore making a vegan version of a New Orleans classic, Crawfish Étouffée. The étouffée sauce is traditionally made with butter and a meat or seafood stock, but I used soy butter and a veggie broth instead. I also made it with pan fried tofu instead of crawfish.
Being a fan of dark techno, I made my pilgrimage to Detroit for Memorial Day Weekend’s Movement festivities. I was not going to just enjoy the music though, I was excited to embark on the culinary delicacies of Detroit. While Detroit is known for their Coney Island Hot Dogs, I obviously did not take part in this tradition being a vegetarian.
Lifestyle changes simply do not happen overnight. With many other lifestyle changes I have made over the years, changing my dietary habits has been slow, which, I must add, benefits me tremendously because it always gives me adequate time for self-reflection. Moreover, going at a slow pace helps me to truly let go of the habits so that I won’t re-acquire them in the future.
Passion House provides artisanal coffee and remarkable loose-leaf hot tea and sparkling iced tea with a sprinkling of baked goods. They put as much effort into their tea as they do their coffee. The barista provided wonderful descriptions of the tea flavors and was very enthusiastic about their products. They have authentic, loose-leaf black tea, green tea, herbal tea, and white tea with incredibly complex flavors.
Cellar Door Provisions is a cute, boho byob restaurant tucked away in Logan Square. Its front is unassuming, but as you walk in, you are greeted with gorgeous plants, sleek wood, and a minimalist decor nested in a small interior. It is an order at the counter type of restaurant, which gives it more of a casual vibe, though its prices are not casual. They have very unique, small plates with refined, complex flavors.