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.
A fervent carnivore might not think there's much variety in vegetarian cuisine, but Quesadilla La Reyna Del Sur is out to challenge that notion. Its Mexican-style menu is impressive in its diversity, featuring ingredients not commonly seen in other restaurants. Quesadillas are layered with everything from squash blossoms to huitlacoche (a corn truffle); tacos are lined with soy-based lamb and pork; cubans are made with soy bacon and sausage. Cactus, meanwhile, is a go-to ingredient for the fresh smoothies, which are formulated to support everything from immune function to healthy digestion. The colorful beverages vibe with an equally-colorful dining room painted in lime greens and oranges. BYOB. Cash only.
As anyone living the vegan, raw-foods, or gluten-free life knows, eating out on a regular basis isn't all peaches and non-dairy cream. That's why Arya Bhavan—a 100% vegan restaurant—teaches folks how to create restaurant-grade meals during cooking classes. Whether you're a new convert who needs to start with ingredient basics, or a long-time vegan in need of new recipes, a range of classes to accommodate your skill level. Most classes focus on Indian-style recipes, such as aloo gobi (cauliflower and potatoes) or chana masala (a chickpea stew). With any class, students get to sample Indian teas, enjoy the prepared dish, and leave with their pockets stuffed full of culinary tips and tricks.
Handlebar’s kitchen is only open until 12:30 a.m., but given its location amid Bucktown and Wicker Park’s bars and clubs, it’s the perfect spot for a snack during a neighborhood bar crawl. Vegan and vegetarian goodies such as black-bean tostadas and tempeh po’ boys are paired with craft brews on tap.
Two self-described “foodies” founded this stand in the Chicago French Market to spread the gospel of healthy eating with a menu of uncooked, vegan dishes. Try “spaghetti and meatballs”—seed-based meatballs over a bed of zucchini ribbons—or the fiber-rich sweet potato pancake and wash it down with a bottle of fresh coconut water.
The menu at Mana Food Bar reads something like a travelogue. The restaurant’s chefs scan the globe for influences before crafting their vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, which include portabella mushroom burgers, horseradish-spiked mac and cheese, and tamales stuffed with pumpkin and jalapenos.