Bad Hunter: Witty Name, Multifaceted Food

Neighborhood: West Loop

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★★

Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★

Affordability: ★★★

Ambience: ★★★★★

Service: ★★★★

Food Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★

I am happy to see Chicago have more gourmet vegetarian-friendly restaurants.  When I think of the West Loop, a lot of meat-centric, unaffordable restaurants come to mind.  But Bad Hunter is a relatively affordable (though still expensive), vegetarian-centric restaurant in the West Loop.  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.

They also have great music playing ranging from LCD Soundsystem to Nas adding more to the ambience.  I think the bartenders have offered consistently excellent customer service and cocktails.  I have never not liked a cocktail I’ve had here.  I had the Topo Americano and it was tasty and eccentric.  It was served in a Topo Chico bottle and had sweet and savory flavors combined.  The ancho verde gave the drink a nice zest to it.

However, the service can fluctuate at the table.  The server we had this most recent time (last Friday night) was not very friendly, helpful, nor enthusiastic and seemed annoyed that we were there.  For a restaurant of this caliber, the service needs to be consistent but that didn’t ruin the meal.

Grilled sourdough with sunflower crema.  Also, the Topo Chico in the background.

They were out of the fried kale sprouts and the fry bread, which we were going to order.  I understand that these things happen though and there were plenty of other delicious options on the menu.  So we started with the sunflower bread instead and it came with smoked salt and a sunflower seed crema.  The bread was grilled and had a little butter on it, which complemented the sunflower seed crema extremely well.  The crema melted so nicely on the bread and the smoked salt was a great addition to the neutral-tasting crema.

Fried eggplant salad

We then ordered the fried Chinese eggplant.  It was more of a salad than an eggplant dish.  I would have liked for there to be more eggplant in there because it was so heavenly.  They know how to make eggplant because it had a perfect texture and was excellently sautéed.  The charred eggplant dressing was light and creamy and paired well with the pickled blueberry and greens.  The pickled blueberry was a really nice touch to this savory salad.

Butter dumplings with kimchi

For a heavier pasta plate, we got the butter dumplings, which came with  corn, kimchi, and Korean hot pepper flakes.  The dumplings were not what you’d expect, they were orange in color and were absolutely delicious.  The sauce was delicate and buttery.

Stripped bass ceviche

To conclude the savory part of the meal we got the striped bass ceviche and the tandoori shrimp.  The striped bass ceviche was light, creative, and a delicious mixture of flavors.  The way the bass was served reminded me of how ahi tuna is served, it was marinated and chopped finely.  I loved the heirloom tomato salsa crudo and the crispy tomatillo rice added a nice, crunchy texture to a lot of soft textures.  The grilled tandoori shrimp was also very delightful.  The shrimp was grilled to perfection and had a subtle tandoori flavor over a cilantro chutney.  It was also served with a guajillo flatbread, which was thick and hearty.

Grilled tandoori shrimp

Since these are small plates and we hadn’t eaten much that day, we decided to splurge on some dessert and I don’t regret it at all.  We ordered the beet cheesecake mousse and it was unlike any cheesecake I had ever had!  I loved the crispy beets inside of the cheesecake mousse.  The mousse had a creamy texture and the cheesecake wasn’t overbearing at all.  The chocolate crumbles were sprinkled on top and on the side.  They added a heavier chocolate flavor to a lighter cheesecake with mixed berries.

Cheesecake mousse with berries

Bad Hunter is definitely a favorite of mine in Chicago.  I think it is ideal for special occasions, date night, and intimate 1-1 hang outs. I look forward to coming back here and trying out another menu of theirs as it changes.

Beatnik: 18th Century Decadence with 21st Century Flavors

Neighborhood: West Town

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★1/2

Pescatarian Options Rating: ★

Affordability: ★★★

Ambience: ★★★★★

Service: ★★ 1/2

Food Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★

With a name like Beatnik, I had very high expectations for this cocktail bar/restaurant that opened up recently in the West Town neighborhood.  I am first of all happy to see a new restaurant open up in the West Town neighborhood because it definitely needs more options for restaurants.

Walking into Beatnik for the first time, I was definitely taken aback by how beautiful the interior was.  It was one of the most beautiful bars/restaurants I have ever seen in my life.  I absolutely LOVE the decor and aesthetic.  There were beautiful plants hanging all over the ceilings and walls with gorgeous chandeliers.  It was basically the cocktail bar of my dreams when I first walked in.  There was just a refreshing, yet elegant feel to this place that I can’t put into words.  I knew I was in the right place though and was very eager and excited to try this place out.  Just the decor in itself is five stars.

Scallop Crudo in an Aguachile Sauce

We got here on a Friday night around 7pm and they told us it would be about an hour and a half for the wait but that they would call us when the table was ready.  About an hour and forty five minutes later, we still hadn’t heard from them and went back to the restaurant and asked about our reservation.  They said we’d still have to wait and that they weren’t sure when we’d be seated.  I understand that this place is newer and it’s Friday night but waiting over two hours when you are told that it’ll be an hour and a half is just painful.  It was also extremely difficult to get a drink at the main bar so we kind of gave up on that, which was disappointing.

When we were finally seated, we mentioned the wait to our server and she was pretty unresponsive and not very friendly or helpful.  I would say the wait/service brought the overall rating down to a four.  For how costly everything is here/the type of place it is, we should’ve had better service.

Potato 3 Ways with Caviar

The cuisine style is eclectic fusion that blends Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern flavors.  I absolutely love fusion and I thought they did an excellent job combining it all in creative ways.  Their cocktails are also unique and delicious.  I had The Second Fiddle cocktail which had turmeric and tarragon in it.  I was so intrigued because I had never seen these ingredients in a cocktail before and it tasted very good.  I am a big fan of turmeric and I’d like to see this ingredient more in cocktails!

The food style is shareable plates so we split a few small plates, a larger plate, and a dessert.  Since it was about 10pm at night we were both pretty hungry and I wasn’t really full after the meal but that’s okay.  We started out with an order of the Halloumi Cheese.  I was really happy to see that on the menu because I don’t see Halloumi in that many places and it is such an amazing, salty cheese!  It was basically served like a fried mozzarella stick with a subtle tomato jam.  I loved it.  We also got the Potatoes 3 ways, which came with caviar, a leek labneh, and a lighter salad.  The potatoes were crispy and well-seasoned and the salty, crunch caviar went so well with the heavier potato flavor.

Whole Fish in a Kerala Curry Sauce

For a lighter shareable, we got the scallop crudo that had sesame/chia seeds and peach and hibiscus aguachile.  The scallops were made perfectly and were very subtle flavor-wise.  I did really like the unique aguachile because it was a nice sweet flavor compliment to the subtle scallops.  There were no vegetarian options for the  larger plates and there was only one pescatarian option so we naturally went with the whole fish as the pescatarian option.  It was so flaky, tender, and flavorful.  The Kerala curry complimented the fish perfectly and I couldn’t get enough of this fish!

We concluded the meal with a chocolate halva torte.  I love halva and I was so excited to see it on the menu because I never see it on menus.  The torte was a perfect dose of decadence with a nutty flavor.  There was tahini caramel drizzled on the plate, how creative is that!?  I typically don’t like caramel but the tahini caramel was a gem!  It was a beautiful way to end a beautiful meal.

Chocolate Halva Torte

I cannot wait to go back here to enjoy the cocktails, creative cuisine, and stunning ambience.  Hopefully, the service will be better next time.  It’s definitely pricey so come here planning on spending some money.  It’ll be worth it though if you can afford it.

Mini Mott: Simple Menu, Fun Flavors

Neighborhood: Logan Square

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★1/2

Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★1/2

Affordability: ★★★★

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★

 Food Quality: ★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★


  • Vegetarian Burger – Jackfruit “Carnitas”
  • Garlic Confit Fries
  • Shishito Peppers

I am a huge fan of Mott Street so I was definitely excited to try their newest creation, Mini Mott. I was disappointed when I saw that it was mainly a burger and wings place since there’s already so many burger and wings places in Chicago.  But they have a really delicious vegetarian burger that helped me get over my disappointment.  I appreciate that it is a faster, more affordable place since there are so many restaurants in Logan Square that are pricey.


There’s a chill patio, a large window sitting area so you can still get a breeze if you’re inside and a diner area with circular chairs and tables.  It’s pretty minimal with an “upscale diner” feel.  The menu is also pretty minimal but thank god for the vegetarian option since I wasn’t expecting it given how places like Small Cheval don’t care at all about non-meat eaters.

The cashier was very upbeat and enthusiastic and she answered any questions we had about the food.  We got the vegetarian burger which is made out of Jackfruit “carnitas” and it came with succulent pickles, a mild hoisin aioli, crunchy sweet potato frizzles for texture, and onions.  The Jackfruit texture reminded me of pulled pork without the gross pork flavor (I never liked pork even when I ate meat) but when you chewed the Jackfruit, it was soft and savory with plenty of umami flavors.  The burger was supposed to come with pickled jalapeño and miso butter, but I didn’t really taste the pickled jalapeño or miso butter.  However, it still was a really good tasting, satisfying burger.  The bread was also toasted nicely and not super heavy.

Jackfruit “carnitas” burger

We also shared an order of the garlic confit fries.  The garlic confit was absolutely delicious and the fries tasted really good but I would have liked for there to be more of the confit on there since I love garlic.  I was happy to see Shishito peppers on the menu since I wanted some vegetables and love these kinds of peppers.  The peppers were blistered perfectly and they came with sweet soy glaze, frizzles, green onions, and sesame on top.  I think it could have been a tad more flavorful, but the blistered, crispy texture was really satisfying.

Garlic Confit Fries

If you’re a fan of ice cream, they have soft-serve and shakes.  I’m not super into ice cream so I didn’t try it but it looked good and they have unique flavors.  They also have alcoholic drinks if you want something boozy with your burger.

Shishito peppers

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.

Proxi: Eclectic, Global Street Food in a Rustic Warehouse

Neighborhood: West Loop

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★1/2

Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★1/2

Affordability: ★★1/2 (worth it, but pricey)

Ambience: ★★★★★

Service: ★★★★★

 Food Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★


  • Cocktails: Daq Attack (curry) and Killer Tofu (beet infused tequila)
  • Small Plates: Burrata, Smoked Pumpkin, Bhel Puri, Coal Roasted Oysters
  • Larger Plates: Special Shrimp Rolls on a Sugar Cane and Fried Skate Wing over a Thai Chili – Garlic Sauce
  • Dessert: Mexican Chocolate Semifreddo

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.

Daq Attack and Killer Tofu

We started off with some cocktails as the descriptions looked quite unique.  I had the Daq Attack, which is their “tiki” style drink with crushed ice.  I was intrigued by the curry, Thai Basil, and smoked banana, and I was not disappointed.  The aged rum paired perfectly with the charcoal roasted banana.  It was the perfect balance between sweet and savory in a cocktail.  So many cocktails can be syrupy, but this was the furthest thing from being syrupy.  My dining companion had the Killer Tofu, which had beet infused tequila, agave, and Nori salt on the rim.  I loved the Nori finish.  This was also another unique and delicious tasting cocktail with prominent savory elements to it.  These cocktails in themselves were five stars and I’ve sampled many cocktails at this point in Chicago.


The hostesses were very friendly and our server was very helpful and on top of everything.  He pointed out what was pescatarian and vegetarian on the menu.  While there was an entire page of the menu we couldn’t eat, we still had quite a few pescatarian options.  Though I would not recommend this place to pure vegetarians and vegans since there are barely any options.  Since we eat fish and seafood, we had some options.  I love tapas style because it enables me to try as much as I can and share the dining experience with my dining companion in a more intimate way than just having our own entrees.


We started off with the Burrata, which came with crispy sourdough, sunchokes, pickled red onions, and leeks.  It was drizzled with an amazing olive oil (but tasted more intense so I’m not 100% that it was olive oil).  The burrata was soft and creamy and the onions added a nice kick to the savory comfort of the cheese on the crispy sourdough.  We also ordered the Smoked Pumpkin, which came with walnuts, paratha, and pomegranates sprinkled on top and garnished with microgreens.  I have never been too big of a fan of pomegranates and pumpkin when it’s not dessert, but the smoked pumpkin gave it an amazing savory flavor with a special olive oil drizzled on top.  The pomegranates added a nice crunchy texture on top.  The salted paratha had a complex flavor that soaked up the pumpkin and oil perfectly.  You know there are talented chefs when they make a dish that you typically aren’t that excited about quite remarkable.

Smoked Pumpkin with Paratha

Our third dish was the bhel puri, which is something you don’t see on menus outside of Indian restaurants.  It is usually sometimes served on top of samosas.  It’s a crispy, savory dish with crispy rice, vegetables, and a tamarind sauce.  It had a refreshing mint chutney served throughout with fresh radishes and microgreens on top.  The Bhel Puri was a nice transition into the seafood portion of our meal.  We ordered the Coal Roasted Oysters, which were oysters grilled with a light cheese, butter, and herbs on top.  It just melted in your mouth with one bite and the coal flavor was very prominent.  This dish was definitely a highlight of the night.

Bhel Puri
Coal Roasted Oysters


We did want to try one of their specials, so we had the shrimp lettuce wrap special.  I believe the original came with meat, but they were able to take it off and it was a very remarkable dish.  It consisted of minced shrimp and vegetables on a sugar cane stick that was breaded and served on a lettuce wrap.  I really haven’t had anything like this before.  The sugar cane paired with the shrimp flavor seamlessly and it was fun to suck on the sugar cane since we don’t really get to do that in Chicago.

Shrimp Roll wrapped around sugar cane


Fried Skate Wing over a Thai Garlic-Chili Sauce

To conclude the tapas part of the night, we ordered the Fried Skate Wing with a Thai garlic chili sauce.  The skate wing was breaded to perfection and the sauce was absolutely mouthwatering.  It was the ideal balance between sweet and savory.  The lime drizzle also added a nice invigorating finish to the fried skate wing.  At this point we were full but since it was my birthday dinner, we couldn’t pass on dessert.  We had the Mexican Chocolate Semifreddo.  It came with kataifi – a vermicelli-like pastry shredded on top of what seemed like chocolate ice-cream with horchata foam.  It was quite a distinctive dessert as I have not had anything like this before.


Mexican Chocolate Semifreddo


The remarkable flavors, excellent service, and sophisticated interior is what makes Proxi stand out from many restaurants in Chicago.  They pair heterogenous cuisines in extremely palatable ways.  They are not afraid to be innovative and adventurous with their flavors.  Proxi goes beyond the conventional New American style that is quite popular in the West Loop.  I cannot wait to come here again.  Though this place is pricey, it is was worth every penny in my opinion.

S.K.Y: A Refreshingly Innovative Restaurant without the Pretension

Neighborhood: Pilsen

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★

Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★★

Affordability: ★★★

Ambience: ★★★★★

Service: ★★★1/2

 Food Quality: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★1/2


  • Drinks: Seon Daze
  • Small Plates: Black Truffle Croquettes, Hamachi Sashimi, Lobster Dumplings
  • Entrees: Mediterranean Seabass
  • Sides: Brussel Sprouts and Crispy Potatoes

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.

Walking in, you are met with dimly lit rooms with darker walls serving sleek and sexy vibes.  S.K.Y. has an open-kitchen concept, so you can see the chefs in action.  I remember seeing the owner/executive chef walking around so it felt like a down to earth place.  My only complaint is that our server took quite awhile to come to our table and the server next to us poured us some water and apologized.  When our server finally came to our table, she was nice but it wasn’t really the best service I’ve had (it definitely didn’t match with the high quality of food there). The server next to us was much nicer.  However, the food pretty much made up for the lackluster service so I can’t complain.

Amuse Bouche

While this restaurant is still currently BYOB, I was eager to try their cocktail menu as they had some unique cocktails listed.  I had the Seon Daze because I was very intrigued by the turmeric.  It had lemon, vermouth and sake.  It was a tasty cocktail and I appreciated the fact that they had a unique spice in their cocktail that I haven’t seen at most places.

Seon Daze

I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant for pure vegetarians and vegans but since we are pescatarians we were able to find quite a few options.  They don’t really have any vegetarian larger plates though, it is a pretty seafood heavy restaurant.  They served us an amuse bouche to start and it was an edamame puree on top of puffed rice crackers.  It was a lovely way to start an amazing meal.  We started with the black truffle croquettes, which just melted in your mouth.  White cheddar is never too exciting for me but it was aged and paired with black truffle and jalapeño.  It was served over sprouts drizzled with what I think was a miso rice vinegar (wasn’t sure), but it was a lovely flavor.  I could have had an entire plate of that myself.  We also started with the Hamachi Sashimi, which was a beautiful plate.  Thin layers of sashimi with drizzled ponzu and little rice puffs immersed throughout the plate.  It had a subtle and delicate flavor.

Black Truffle Croquettes
Hamachi Sashimi

Our next plate was the lobster dumplings.  The dumplings had a soft texture and the lobster tasted quite succulent with the jade butter and herbs drizzled on top.  I really enjoyed the delicate herb flavor paired with the more intense lobster flavor.  For the larger plate, we decided to get the Mediterranean Seabass.  The seabass was coated in a French bread crumbs making for a crunchy texture on top of fresh and excellently sautéed spinach with a lemon-garlic jus poured on top.  I loved the prominent garlic flavor and it paired so well with spinach.

Lobster Dumplings
Mediterranean Seabass

To complement this gorgeous entree, we got the Brussels Sprouts and Crunchy Potatoes as sides.  The brussels sprouts were crunchy and perfectly sautéed with an apple cider gastrique.  I am not even crazy about brussels sprouts but was in love with this dish.  I really loved the sourness of the apple cider gastrique.  The potatoes were crispy with rosemary/other herbs and were served with a black truffle dip, which was heavenly. Perfect finger food.

Brussel Sprouts

S.K.Y., unlike some other restaurants really know how to cook with vegetables and they celebrate and honor them, they are not just thrown on the side.  Nothing was overdone and everything was extremely flavorful.  I left full and satisfied but not uncomfortable.  I can’t wait to come back here and try the other delights on the menu.  All of the recognition and write-ups of this place is well-deserved.  While S.K.Y. is pricier, it doesn’t leave the financial shock that most places in the West Loop do after getting the check, especially considering the high quality of food that they serve here.

Umami Burger: An Upcoming Favorite Amongst Vegetarians

Neighborhood: Wicker Park

Vegetarian Options Rating: ★★★★★

Pescatarian Options Rating: ★★★★

Affordability: ★★★

Ambience: ★★★★

Service: ★★★★★

Food Quality: ★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Umami Burger is obviously a staple in Wicker Park for meat eaters.  But now with their new “Impossible Burger” (their new vegetarian burger that tastes pretty much like a regular hamburger), it will definitely be frequented more by vegetarians.  Prior to the debut of their “Impossible Burger”, I had never been to Umami Burger since I don’t eat meat.  But I thought now is the time to try this place and I had only heard good things about it.

The description of the “Impossible Burger

The service was great between the hostess and server.  Water was plentiful and the server was very helpful with ordering and catering to our dietary needs: pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, regular meat eater, etc..  We came here in a big group (about 10 of us) all excited to try this new vegetarian burger and they were so nice about splitting up the check, which made things a lot easier for us of course.

The decor is modern, sleek, and creative with colorful paintings on the wall.  It’s chic but the people who work there don’t act like they’re too cool to do anything.  It’s always busy but it’s not hectic and there’s still space to walk around.  They also gave us child coloring menus so we had a pleasant time coloring.

Now for the food…I love pickles and they serve you pickles on the table just to pick at.  I’ve never been to a restaurant that has done this before and I absolutely loved being able to pick at the pickles before getting the food.  They tasted fresh with a sweet aftertaste.

Now let me tell you about the “Impossible Burger” – for $16 (a couple of dollars more than a regular meat burger) you can get it vegan, vegetarian, or the regular one has fish sauce in it.  It is made of wheat and potato protein, fat from coconut oil, and hemme (the ingredient that makes meat taste like meat).  It is also much more sustainable than cow burgers because methane isn’t released into the air like it is when cows go through industrial factory farming.  So you can eat this guilt-free or close to guilt-free as possible!

The Impossible Burger

The “Impossible Burger” consisted of: two burger patties, caramelized onions, American cheese, miso mustard, their house spread, dill pickles, lettuce, and tomato on two tasty buns.  It was absolutely scrumptious with the cheese melted and dripping on the sides of the burger.  Having not had a hamburger in about 13 years, I kind of forgot what a hamburger tasted like and got used to veggie burgers made from black beans, oats, mushrooms, lentils, etc., but this tasted like how I remember a regular hamburger tasting.  It was juicy and had the consistency of a regular burger without the feeling of death.  It tasted like a regular burger but didn’t have a gross meat aftertaste that some burgers can have.  The bread was toasted nicely and the onions and cheese went really well with the regular hamburger flavor and I love the savory dill pickles with the miso mustard.  I can’t wait to try more variations of the “Impossible Burger”.  I also appreciate that they have portobello mushroom burgers and ahi tuna burgers as options here.

Thin fries with truffle fondue and chives

We also tried the thin fries, which were good with the truffle fondue, sea salt, and chives.  I would have liked if they had more truffle fondue on there because there was just a bit on the top layer and there really wasn’t a lot of it.  But since we paid extra for it, I would have liked to see more truffle fondue on there especially because truffle is a precious ingredient.  They also give you a bunch of dipping sauces which includes a truffle aioli option and a special ketchup (but be careful because it has fish sauce in it), that all paired seamlessly with the fries.

All in all, this was a great experience and I am so happy that there is a burger place that doesn’t think of vegetarians as an afterthought.  I grappled with whether I wanted to try a burger that tastes like a real burger because of the ethical implications.  But I could eat this guilt-free since there wasn’t juice from a dead cow oozing out of it.