Every month, Sweet Tomatoes rolls out a new roster of fresh-made eats—including many vegetarian and gluten-free selections—in its wholesome buffet. Simmering soups bubble with vegetables and savory chicken, alongside tossed salads tumbling with crisp produce, much like an Ent in a washing machine. On Sunday mornings, plates fill with comforting breakfast classics such as belgian waffles and scrambled eggs.
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.
Time Out Chicago Kids raves about the strawberry lemonade flavor. Chicago magazine claims the "coconut tastes fresh from the tree." And Michael Mednick, owner and founder of Anthony's Italian Ice, which has been open for more than 20 years, knows exactly why. After a stint selling name-brand ices, an unsatisfied Mednick decided to test his Italian ice-making talents by tossing fresh fruits into an old ice-making machine. A series of trials, errors, and brain freezes finally led Mednick to the sweet spot he holds today: manning his own Southport store, where he churns out 25 decadent Italian ice flavors⎯such as lemon, mango, and peach⎯from scratch.
Though Italian ice is Anthony’s big draw, the shop also purveys smooth ice cream produced by fellow Chicago shop Bobtail, and offsets dessert appetites with Italian beef sandwiches, locally made soups, and Chicago-style hot dogs.
Treat your gastrointestinal tract to a tasty glass of richly blended healthlisciousness. Today's side deal gets you four drinks or wholesome bowls from Protein Bar for $10, a $24 value. A proper breakfast of fruit, grain, and protein will help you discover that hidden superpower that's been lying dormant under a pile of doughnuts and danishes.
The hardest part of eating vegan is explaining to the family that the flamingo tongues at the Saturnalia banquet still count as meat. Today's Groupon gets you nutritious, delectable food in a classy environment. For $10, you get $25 worth of gourmet vegan fare at Karyn's Cooked. Whether you're fully vegan, are thinking about taking the plunge, or you merely want to purge your body of animal products after the particularly heavy-eating holiday season, Karyn's Cooked will tickle your toothbone with succulent morsels of animal-free goodness. In addition to being totally vegan, several of Karyn's dishes are gluten-free.
Every Friday and Saturday night, an insiders-only karaoke jam fills Dharma Garden's pastel-colored walls with music. During a recent visit by Time Out Chicago, the crowd—mostly comprised of staff members from other Thai restaurants—burst into applause as Dharma chef and owner Vilairait Junthong, AKA "Little Aunt," grabbed the mic to sing her favorite tune, Sirintra Niyakorn's "Roo Wa kao lhok," which roughly translates to "You Treat Me Wrong".
In the more than ten years since arriving in Chicago from her hometown of Prajinburi, Little Aunt has done more than just bulk up Dharma's Thai menu. Chicago Thai restaurants Sticky and Spoon Thai have called on Junthong to outfit their menus with Northern Thai specialties such as marinated beef jerky and Chinese-influenced rice soup. She's also stayed true to a no-land-animals pledge––one reason of many why Time Out Chicago has named Dharma Garden a Critics' Pick.
Beneath the dining room's spherical hanging lights, curries and stir-fried noodles stack with veggies such as baby bok choy and chinese broccoli, as well as seafood, shrimp, and imitation meats. Already boasting one of the city's largest vegetarian menus, chefs can also alter most of their other dishes to accommodate vegans and vegetarians upon request. After finishing off a deep-fried red snapper, patrons can peruse the Thai-language menu, or request a translation into other languages such as German, Latin, and Binary.