I have seen many lists compiled recently on how to support Black-owned restaurants. So instead of recreating a list that has already been made. I wanted to compile these lists together since these lists have unique perspective and features. I also wanted to highlight vegan/veg-friendly black-owned restaurants as well given that I am a vegetarian blogger.
Restaurant week isn’t always the most vegan/vegetarian friendly, which can be quite frustrating. Plant-based eaters need something to get through the worst part of the winter too! After scouring the menus on the Chicago Restaurant Week website and doing my own research, I have compiled a list of restaurant week menus that are vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian friendly.
Check out my list of the best new restaurants of Chicago in 2019 through a vegetarian perspective. 2019 has been an incredible year for Chicago’s international food scene. We have an explosion of South Asian spots ranging from progressive Indian at Rooh to street food at Moti Café and Tikka n’ Curry.
Spanish-Mediterranean restaurant, Papa Cenar, is now serving a Spanish-American brunch in addition to their tapas style dinner! It’s a smaller menu with more traditional American options like French toast while still holding onto their Spanish influence with their Spanish omelet (which I like more than American omelets). Brunch is a laid-back affair at Papa Cenar with Velvet Underground casually playing in the background making it really feel like a Sunday morning.
ROOH is one of my favorite new restaurants that has opened this past year. You can find extremely unique dishes where so much attention is paid to detail with every bite, every ingredient, every texture. Every dish we tried was perfectly composed and insanely delicious – experiences like these are rare so treat yourself and try this spot because you will not be disappointed!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Elske is New American restaurant tucked away in the West Loop offering beautiful Danish inspired cuisine. I was very excited to try Elske having been to Copenhagen this past year. The decor definitely brought me back to Copenhagen as it’s minimal and all about the mid-century modern vibe. They also have a lovely outdoor area with a fireplace for when it will eventually be warmer outside. We were here for a celebration and had been wanting to try Elske for awhile.
Same Day Cafe is a picturesque, relaxed cafe in the heart of Logan Square. Its sign and exterior is unassuming but their food and beverages are everything but unassuming. It’s a smaller cafe with a wonderful collection of records and natural light. There are some cute plants on the wall, but it’s not overdone. It feels unadorned with sparks of a rustic ambience.
S.K.Y is a newer, creative restaurant with a sleek, minimal decor serving New American fare with an “Asian” influence. It is unpretentious as it is in Pilsen rather than the West Loop, which is quite refreshing. This is one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in Chicago. Everything I ate here was absolutely mouthwateringly delicious between the fun textures and well-seasoned/spiced flavors. Everything about this restaurant screams minimal decor but their flavors are everything but minimal.
Ugo’s, an Italian neighborhood gem of Logan Square is set to close its doors to the public on Sunday, March 18th after being open for 2.5 years. Ugo’s is located on 2833 W. Armitage Avenue and is a cozy, casual Italian spot serving delicious, yet affordable Italian fare. It’s often overlooked by Osteria Langhe across the street. And while Osteria Langhe is quite delicious, it is also quite expensive so Ugo’s is more of the down to earth, neighborhood Italian spot where you don’t have to pay an extravagant amount of money to have a delicious meal.
La Boulangerie is a small, cozy and modern looking Parisian boulangerie with a wide assortment of traditional French pastries, breads, coffee, and tea. They also have some substantial lunch items like sandwiches and savory crepes. I am a big fan of savory crepes and and while they weren’t on the menu at this specific location they let us customize the crepe to our liking.
Proxi represents the best of fine, creative, and adventurous cuisine in Chicago. Their concept is eclectic twists on global street food served tapas style in an open, beautiful, and modern dining environment. I love how open this restaurant is without it feeling overwhelming and chain-like. High-ceilings, chic lighting, and a rustic decor create a refined, but not stuffy ambience. Over-sized leather booths and brass mirrors give it a funky, yet sophisticated feel. It was a special occasion so we were seated at the Chef’s Table with a lovely view of the chefs and all of the live action in the kitchen.
I had been wanting to try Imperial La Mian for quite awhile as I’ve seen it recommended in food blogs but was reticent as it’s located in River North and I don’t really enjoy River North vibes. I am willing to brave River North for delicious food though. Upon walking in you are greeted by the hosts and there are two separate areas, one is kind of separated from the rest of the restaurant with brighter lighting and families (didn’t want to sit there) and another area is more open, dimly lit, and by the bar (much better choice). It was a busy Saturday night and we had reservations so we were sat down almost immediately, which I appreciated.
Situated between The Game Room and the lobby at the Chicago Athletic Association, The Milk Room is an 8-seater, with spirits dating back to actual speakeasy times. Think of Milk Room as you would a tasting menu through time, and with cocktails curated for you. Milk Room, like many culinary experiences in Chicago is a ticketed event through Tock.
Mon Ami Gabi is a classic Parisian style Bistro, it is upscale, but not stuffy. You walk in and are taken by the charm and ambience of a bistro in Paris with their dark wood pillars and accents interspersed with little chalkboards that have seafood specials written in French. The tan/beige wall color with the darker wood and larger windows provided that cozy, French ambience. The lighting is dim making it a perfect space for an intimate friend dinner or romantic date.
Katherine Anne Confections is a cute, small cafe in Logan Square that has a fabulous assortment of chocolate truffles, candies, hot chocolates, and surprisingly sandwiches. After being gifted a box of chocolate truffles from here, I can’t go back to eating truffles that can be found at Walgreens even though that makes me sound super bourgie. These truffles are fresh and heavenly. They have unique combinations like goat cheese walnut, which literally melt in your mouth.
Spice Room finally graced the Logan Square restaurant scene in the spring of 2016. It’s a small, quaint restaurant with club music, pretty decorations and lights, and a very attentive staff. The service is consistently friendly, quick, and on top of things. The older gentleman is always excellent with those water refills, which is necessary if you are sensitive to spice.
Bite is one of my favorite brunch and dinner spots. I love everything about the ambience here. It’s easygoing, unpretentious, and the servers aren’t too cool to give you decent service. I always enjoy the music as its eclectic and unpredictable, but at times very familiar. The other night they were playing my favorite Cursive songs that brought me back twelve years ago.
I came here with a group of friends on a Wednesday night and had high expectations. My high expectations were fulfilled! I love Thai food and can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, there really isn’t great Thai food in the Wicker Park/Logan Square area so I am willing to travel far for it, but we really need some better options around here.
I have been coming here for years and absolutely love this place. It’s great for Wicker Park to have vegetarian options and I think they should have more. The ambience of Handlebar is no frills, but is a divey, rustic aesthetic. They also have a lovely patio in the back when it’s summer, which is super enjoyable. The service here is always good and fast too. I have had the same waiter here for years and he’s always on top of things.
If you want a cozy, intimate, yet exciting dining experience, Café Marie-Jeanne is a perfect option. I absolutely adored everything about this place. It has “traditional” French food but also innovative, contemporary dishes that are made in really unique ways. There was nothing I ate here that I didn’t love.
Located within the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Margeaux Brasserie takes you back to classic Parisian cuisine with a 1920’s style decor. I have had the pleasure of dining here for dinner and brunch. When I first came here, I was here for my dear friend’s birthday celebration. It was the perfect place for two Francophiles. I absolutely adore French restaurants and Brasseries.
This is probably my favorite coffee shop in the Wicker Park area. The ambience is bright and modern, which is great for doing work. The baristas are very friendly and knowledgeable. They aren’t too cool to help you like a lot of other places around here. They also have beverages that are unique and you can’t find at other coffee shops. Fairgrounds has a great balance of tea, juices, and coffee drinks, that combine eclectic ingredients together to create a mixture of gorgeous flavors.
Jin Thai is one of my favorite Thai restaurants in Chicago. It is certainly up there for the best Thai food I have had in Chicago and it is a wonderful haven for vegetarians and pescatarians. Jin Thai has very unique Thai dishes that you do not see at most Thai restaurants. It has a quiet, cozy ambience that is relaxing and chill.
I really love Bad Hunter. I’ve been here a few times and the food has always been delicious. The ambience is gorgeous. I love the plant decor, the non-edison lightbulbs, and the clean, cozy feel to it. I also really enjoy the dried up framed plants hanging in the bathroom. It encompasses what I love when it comes to interior decorating.