Since 1983, the cooks at Soul Vegetarian East have given vegetarians and vegans a rare pleasure: the chance to enjoy meat-free dishes that mimic the comforting, indulgent taste of soul food and barbecue. Buffalo tofu wings, veggie burgers made with black eye peas, and collard greens with onions and fresh cornbread are just a few of the eatery’s offerings.
With an eye toward holistic wellness, the team at B’Gabs creates raw, gluten free, and vegan meals that are soy-free, peanut-free and chock full of organic and local fruits, veggies, and veggie-based proteins. In the dining area, each whole ingredient is transformed under the chefs' skilled hands as they become healthy versions of meals, such as burgers, tacos, or pad thai. Even soy-free desserts, such as cheesecake, manage to be both hearty and creamy—yet they lack the additives of their traditional versions.
That dedication to high-quality food is also present in the restaurant's juices. Each one is made using a Norwalk juicer, a machine believed to extract more vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables using hydraulics. B'Gabs also runs a store that stocks groceries and goodies meant to promote vibrant lifestyles, from herbs to therapeutic oils for massaging tired shoulders after a long day of shrugging.
We are an environmentally and socially conscious kind of place. Don't worry - we are not overbearing - we do it behind the scenes.
Our food is comfort food with a twist. Organic and locally grown whenever possible.
Our business started with 3 people and a dream. To have a comfy place that offers excellent food!
Everyday, the aroma of steaming lobster and grilled carne asada escapes into the dining room from the kitchen of Playa Del Sol, where chefs prepare each dish to order. Within the dining room, marked by blue and red walls, guests dig into any number of traditional Mexican dishes, ranging from deep-fried whole red snapper with veracruzana sauce to housemade tamales. Further emphasizing their focus on seafood, paintings of beachgoers in vintage swimsuits adorn the walls and servers gently speak in breathy, oceanic whispers. Behind the full bar, staff members fill up margarita glasses with original, mango, and raspberry flavors and muddle mint leaves for refreshing mojitos.
Behind the counter at De Pasada, staffers pack the black chalkboard menu with a mélange of burritos, tacos, and classic Mexican entrees. Stone masks, South American décor, and a flat-screen television lurk in the split-level dining area, waiting to catch hungry eyes in a way that Shakespearean food dioramas never could. During warmer months, overhead fans cast breezes on diners when the cool presence of a frosty Jarritos or horchata isn't enough.
The volunteer-run Raw Vegan Cafe serves up uncooked gluten-free vegan fare, donating all its profits to Project Hopeful in Joliet. Appetizers on the trim menu include zucchini wraps and mushrooms that, like a black bear’s armchair, come stuffed with pine nuts and fine spices. Served sans nuts, the café's spaghetti comes smothered in a sun-dried-tomato marinara and can be paired with a custom, fresh-squeezed juice of your own creation.
To spread the good word of raw food, the nonprofit teaches foodies and newbies the vegan basics during cooking classes. Instructors arm students with the ingredients, equipment, and recipes necessary to swiftly craft nutritious raw dinners and desserts, saving the cost of ordering takeout from a neighbor’s greenhouse. Main courses such as pizza or bagels shirk flames in favor of a dehydrator, the use of which teachers thoroughly detail. Sweeteners reaped from Mother Nature's garden tinge dessert recipes for delicacies such as chocolate macaroons or lemon squares. Patrons fend off food comas and advancing herds of hungry rabbits to query experts about raw vegan diets during Q&A sessions that conclude classes.