There’s no Jerry at Jerry’s. Owners Mark Bires and Mindy Friedler chose the moniker as an homage to Jerry Garcia, whose freewheeling spirit they evidently share, given that they’ve traveled the country sampling sandwiches ranging from Chicago's italian beefs to Philly's cheesesteaks, from New Orleans's po boys to New England’s lobster rolls. It’s easy to see the influence of their journeys on the eatery’s menu, a staggering array of more than 100 regional and ethnic sandwiches that could make a magic 8 ball cloud over from indecision. Root-beer-glazed ham, beef tenderloin, and fried tofu are but a few of the sandwiches’ centerpieces, their flavors accented by offerings such as fried green tomatoes and grilled asparagus. Diners can also customize their own creations from a board filled with meats, veggies, and 10 different bread options. Hand-formed burgers, rustic-cut fries, and decadent desserts add weight to the menu like an extra stripe adds weight to a zebra. At the eatery's bar, diners scan rows of roughly 200 American craft beers accessible by bottle or tap, and they savor a selection of 70 American whiskeys. When the digital jukebox needs a break, Jerry's hosts live music, the catchy tunes of which slither through door cracks and out to the outdoor dining area.
Turkish Cuisine owner Engin Cardak invites diners to watch an open kitchen where six Turkish chefs flame-kiss shrimp, eggplant, lamb, and beef into an array of sumptuous Turkish dishes. Amid red-brick walls and kilim weavings, groups can sop up chickpea and eggplant purees with fresh, oven-baked breads from the in-house bakery. Diners unskewer charcoal-grilled meats and peppers from shish kebabs for ease of dunking in yogurt sauces. The 100-seat dining room pulses to the tunes of Turkish pop music, and belly dancers fill weekends with a jangling of hips unheard of since Elvis took the stage with his pockets full of butterscotch candy.
Shuro, duba wat, and awaze tibs grace the oversized wooden tables at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant, introducing western palates to the bold flavors of African food at one of CBS Chicago’s best places for Ethiopian cuisine. The eatery, named for an Ethiopian holy town, puts forth a menu fit for meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike. The aforementioned awaze tibs, or cubed beef, simmers with onions and jalapeños, and chickpeas make up the vegan shuro, proclaimed "delectable […] with a complex, gradual heat," by Time Out Chicago. Though its warm orange walls, mammoth log chairs, and BYOB policy make Lalibella an ideal place to dine-in, the restaurant also caters events large and small.
Though Loving Hut has locations sprinkled across the globe, no two menus are the same. Whether in San Francisco or Toyko, the Asian-inspired vegan eatery’s talented chefs concoct dishes catered to local cuisines and ingredients. In Chicago, chefs work with a tasty textured vegetable protein—shortened to “TVP” on the menu. The protein is perfectly executed within Pan-Asian offerings, such as Korean barbecue and the Thai curry that “charmed” Chicago Magazine. Of course, chefs don’t use TVP in every menu item; salads boom with fresh produce, such as sweet potatoes, beets, and avocados, while veggie burgers showcase traditional tomato and pickle toppings. In line with the all-natural cuisine, Loving Hut’s “hut” surrounds patrons in earthy colors and textures. Furthermore, friendly reminders, such as “Share the World with All Beings,” are written across the walls.
Vegan cuisine might not be the first thing many carnivores think of when dining out, but the chefs at Urban Vegan are working to change that. They don’t sacrifice flavor in their Thai and Asian dishes, instead using soy pepper steak, soy shrimp, and seitan to give their entrees a satisfyingly meaty texture. But it’s how the dishes are prepared that really makes them tasty. Stir-fried mushrooms and fresh ginger give one dish its complex interplay of flavors, and hot red curry paste makes another spicier than Tabasco-brand mouthwash.
Though the team at Earth's Healing Cafe strives to respect all diets with their organic, vegan, raw-foods menu, there's nothing they respect more than Mother Earth. Their highest priority is using completely natural, organic foods, even if that means opting to import produce from elsewhere in the Americas. Even so, they still manage to procure at least half of their ingredients locally.
The core of the menu is the juices and smoothies, each of which is designed to support and replenish various organs and body functions. For instance, My Digestion is Perfect settles the stomach with a calming blend of celery, carrot, fennel, ginger, and mint. The live, whole-food smoothies come in varieties such as the River Nile, a sweet mixture that includes coconut milk, mango, blueberries, dates, almond butter and vanilla. The entrees are plant-based as well, including pizza with marinated mushrooms, red bell pepper, olives, and spinach, a garden burger made with a savory veggie and seed patty, and a carrot pate sandwich with a side of coleslaw.