Food & Drink

The Best Chicago Restaurants for Vegans and Vegetarians

Finding suitable vegetarian and vegan options in Chicago was once a difficult task. But with the plant-based trend gaining traction and the food scene in our city generally being better than ever, there are now more delicious spots to satisfy the pickiest of diners. Whether you’re following a strict meat-free diet or taking a flexitarian approach, eating plants doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor, and this list is proof. Here are the best vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Chicago.

ALTHEA

Gold Coast
High-end vegan fare from an acclaimed plant-based chef

The newest spot on this list comes from vegan chef Matthew Kenney. Kenney is known for his high-end vegan fare at his global restaurants, and that’s what you’ll find on the menu at ALTHEA, located inside Saks Fifth Avenue. Vegan dishes are an artform here, from delicate Kimchi Dumplings with cashew and ginger foam to Heirloom Tomato + Zucchini “Lasagna” topped with macadamia nut ricotta. If a fine dining plant-based experience is what you’re after, this is your spot. Just try to forget you’re sitting next to the men’s clothing section.

The Chicago Diner

Lakeview, Logan Square
A Chicago classic serving up meat-free dishes since 1983

The Chicago Diner has a cult following as one of the OG veggie-friendly spots in the city. Comfort food classics like wings, nachos, and poutine get a vegan spin, while entrees span global cuisines from Thai basil stir-fry and gyros to a pierogi quesadilla, plus plenty of burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The expansive menu means there’s something for everyone. Don’t skip out on dessert which features ultra-thick vegan shakes (also great for lactose intolerant folks), a brownie sundae and a killer chocolate layer cake.

Sunda

River North
Contemporary Asian with a dedicated vegan menu

Sunda makes it easy to eat vegan with its dedicated brunch, lunch, and dinner vegan menus (ask and you shall receive). Craft your meal from starters like shiitake edamame dumplings and an Asian pear salad, plus small plates like green curry squash and miso cauliflower. There’s even veg-friendly sushi options like the sweet potato caterpillar roll with roasted sweet potato, black garlic, Asian pear, and avocado.

Flora Fauna

River North
A trip around the globe in plant-based shared plates

As its name suggests, Flora Fauna’s menu is half dedicated to veggie-forward dishes. Craft your own adventure from the Flora side of the menu which showcases influences from across the globe. Standouts include the crispy fried mushrooms with pineapple rum mustard, elote cakes with spicy honey and corn nuts, and jackfruit dan dan noodles made from chilled green papaya. Several dishes on the menu are also vegan, making it easy for everyone in your group to enjoy the shared plate experience.

Handlebar

Wicker Park
Scratch-made classics served in a hip and relaxed West Side space

Another Chicago favorite, Handlebar has been serving scratch-made vegan and vegetarian comfort foods since 2003. The all-day cafe is a hipster hangout for enjoying fried pickles with vegan ranch or the Nashville Hot Fried “Chicken” sandwich topped with hen of the woods mushrooms, b&b pickles, slaw, hot sauce, and ranch. Stop by in the evening for fried avocado tacos or a sambal tofu bowl. Brunch options include breakfast burritos, scrambles, and more. 

Clever Rabbit

Wicker Park
Seasonally inspired dishes with a veggie flare

Clever Rabbit's newly launched menu balances protein dishes with farm-fresh veggie-forward plates, meaning vegetarian and non-vegetarians will be equally satisfied. Start with the housemade hummus or local mushrooms with crispy brun-uusto cheese and charred scallion. Mix and match a variety of veggie-friendly small plates like the fermented and fried Brussels sprouts with smoked tofu, apple and Thai chili, squash blossom tacos, or a cauliflower masala dosa served with coconut chutney.

Urban Vegan

Ravenswood
Your favorite Thai takeout, but for vegans

If you’re a fan of Thai food, you’ll love this vegan-focused Asian restaurant. The menu features all of the staple Thai dishes with a vegan flair like Tom Kha Kai soup and Chicken Satay plus hearty veggie-forward rice and noodle dishes ranging from classic Pad Thai and Pad See Ew to Panang Curry and stir-fried veggie plates. There’s also a selection of veggie burgers and sandwiches for the pickiest of eaters.

Paulie Gee’s

Logan Square
Detroit squares and Brooklyn slices with plenty of vegan options

Brooklyn import Paulie Gee’s offers vegan and non-vegan pies in New York or Detroit styles, offering something for all taste buds. The vegan menu features 10 pizza options like the Fast Car with Italian tomatoes, garlic, red onions, mushrooms, basil, sauteed bread crumbs, and cashew ricotta dollops. Other pizzas can be subbed with vegan cheese, pepperoni, or sausage too. Paulie Gee’s also menus a monthly herbivore Detroit-style pizza with rotating veggie and vegan ingredients. Ultra-popular cake slices from local vegan shop, Pie Pie My Darling, round out the menu.
MORE: See the rest of the best pizza in Chicago 

Bad Hunter

West Loop
Veggie-forward plates for all tastes on restaurant row

The cleverly named locale focuses on small, medium, and large plates with vegetables as the main focus. Try the Marinated King Trumpet Mushrooms with olives, hazelnuts, and greens and the Chickpea Agnolotti with a miso broth, wood ear mushrooms, and fennel gremolata. Many dishes are veg-forward but not necessarily vegetarian making Bad Hunter a solid choice for eaters of all types.

Galit

Lincoln Park
Middle Eastern fare from famed chef Zach Engel

Much of the Middle Eastern menu at Galit is suitable for vegetarians. Start things off with one of three types of vegetarian hummus plus the assorted salatim (salads) spread, a compilation of pickles and spreads served with Galit’s addicting fluffy pita. Opt for a selection of plates like the carrots with Bulgarian feta and dukkah, falafel with mango labneh, or kale tabouli with pepitas, delicata squash and apples. If you’re extra hungry, go with the set menu, allowing you to choose from a variety of dishes across the a la carte menu for a fixed price (dietary substitutions are allowed).

Beatrix

West Loop, Streeterville, River North
Healthy-ish eats when you want to be (kind of) good

This health-forward mini-chain packs a menu full of flavor and vegetarian-friendly entrees. Favorites include the kung pao cauliflower and vegan tomato basil Soup, plus entrees like the rigatoni with vegetable bolognese. Stop by for brunch to try quinoa cakes with poached eggs or green chili enchiladas and be sure to save room for a trip to the pastry bar where you’ll find plenty of indulgent cakes, cookies, and muffins.

Tanta

River North
Peruvian flavors with a surprising array of vegetarian eats

A seafood-heavy Peruvian joint might not be the first place you think of for vegetarian food, but Tanta offers a curated selection of flavorful veggie fare. Several of the menu’s sections include veggie options like the tamal empanada, and sunchoke tartare with avocado, tomatoes, carrots, and huancaina sauce. Other dishes perfect for sharing include the Peruvian corn cake with mushroom sofrito, red quinoa salad with burrata, heirloom baby tomatoes, and aji panca balsamic dressing and wok-fried quinoa with mixed vegetables.

Prime & Provisions

Loop
A Chicago steakhouse with enticing vegetarian options

You’re probably thinking a steakhouse is no place for a plant-based diner, but Prime & Provisions offers a variety of hearty starters like the butternut squash soup or shaved Brussels sprouts salad with butternut squash, wild rice, fresno chilis, ricotta salata, and tahini vinaigrette. Opt for the blackened cauliflower steak with roasted garlic for your main course. It’s given the same TLC as the other steaks on the menu.

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Amanda Topper is a contributor for Thrillist.