Looking for a delicious and healthy plant-based meal in the Windy City? You’re in luck! Chicago is home to some of the best plant-based restaurants in the country.
To add, selecting plant-based foods is a great way to eat healthier during the holiday season.
In this post, we’ll share what is plant-based food, why you should eat plant-based food, and the best plant-based restaurants in Chicago.
About Plant-Based Foods
What is a Plant-Based Food
A plant-based diet is any diet focusing mostly on plants, typically rich in nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.
Following a whole food plant-based diet means eating foods found in nature, that are unrefined or minimally processed, that are derived from plants, and that do not contain any animal products.
However, some who follow a plant-based diet will eat seafood, such as salmon and clams.
Plant-Based Diet vs Vegan Diet
A plant-based diet is not a vegetarian or vegan diet. Poultry, beef, eggs, fish, and dairy products may be eaten. But the majority of your nutritional intake comes from plant-based sources.
A vegan diet contains only plants (such as vegetables, grains, nuts, and fruits) and foods made with plants.
Plant-based may also refer to a vegetarian diet, a diet focused on plant foods, like vegetables and whole grains, but which also includes small amounts of eggs or dairy.
Why Should You Try Plant-Based Food
Adding plant-based foods into our diet has become not just a trend but a necessity for leading a healthier lifestyle. These food sources are full of nutrients and have a variety of health benefits.
- protect the body from diseases
- help fortify the immune system
- help keep the body functions optimized
- work to lower cholesterol levels
- reduce the risk of heart diseases
- stabilize blood sugar levels
- play a significant role in maintaining a healthy body weight
But beyond their nutritional value, plant-based diets can have a positive impact on the environment by reducing carbon emissions and conserving water resources.
Ways to Add Plant-Based Food to Your Meals
As difficult as a transition might seem, implementing plant-based foods to your meals is easy. Here are some ways to add them:
- Start by designating a Meatless Monday or any other day of the week where meals would purely consist of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts.
- Experiment with alternatives like tofu or tempeh instead of meat in your favorite recipes.
- Enjoy a natural sweetness in your desserts by using dates or maple syrup.
- Mix seeds or nuts into your morning yoghurt or oatmeal, or savor a hummus spread on your whole grain bread for an energy-packed breakfast.
By gradually raising the proportion of plant-based ingredients in your meals, the transition will be smooth and sustainable. And at the same time, you can enhance your palate with an exciting array of flavors.
The Best Plant-Based Restaurants in Chicago
These are several of our favorite places to dine. Plant-based foods are also a great alternative to eat healthy during the holidays.
Bloom Plant-Based Kitchen
📍1559 N Milwaukee Ave
Recommendations: Baja or Asada Taco, Shroom and Chorizo Flatbread, Coffee Break
Bloom Plant-Based Kitchen aim not just to cater to the plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian communities, but instead, to everyone. As Bloom Plant-Based Kitchen’s name suggests, Bloom Plant-Based Kitchen is 100% vegan, and gluten-free, too.
What is so appealing about Bloom is the incredible array of amazingly delicious foods that we cannot stop thinking about. And, yes, they are 100% plant-based and gluten-free, too.
As if we needed further proof that vegan food is alive and well, here comes this airy refuge. Menu items are marked by symbols that indicate allergies to nuts, and they specify raw ingredients.
📍700 N Michigan Ave, 7th floor (Saks Fifth Ave)
Recommendations: Kelp Noodle Cacio e Pepe, Thai Squash Soup, Corn Risotto
If you have not experienced vegetarian food, this is the place to book your seat. I truly felt I was walking into a unique hidden gem when walking past the tennis shoes and entering Althea.
The dishes were tasty and amazing but also a work of art. The vegan eatery, by celebrity chef Matthew Kenney, has been on everyone’s bucket list.
Aside from some outstanding dishes and rave reviews, it will leave you feeling satiated because not only is the food so darn delicious, but it is also extremely nutritious.
Kale My Name
📍3300 W Montrose Ave
Recommendations: Cauliflower Wings, Jackfruit Tacos, Italian Seitan Wrap, Lentil Soup
Vegan restaurant, Kale My Name, opened last year in Chicago and is already home to some of the country’s most signature veggie-forward dishes.
Their ingredients are all vegan, including cheese, which is a vegan product purchased at the vendors. It has a full bar, and serves weekend brunch as well.
This place is one of the top picks and was founded by Tabitha Brown. The cauliflower wings were delicious and filling!
Fancy Plants Kitchen
📍1443 W Fullerton Ave
Recommendations: Black Truffle Arancini, Wok-Seared Cauliflower, Broccolini Caesar, Smoked Tempeh Steak
The atmosphere is cozy and beautiful, you will love the spaciousness with great decor and a patio for when the weather is nicer. The garlic-fried rice with corn was amazing!
True Food Kitchen
📍1 W Erie St
Recommendations: Butternut Squash Soup, Charred Cauliflower, Vegan Double Cheeseburger, Tuscan Kale Salad, Spicy Panang Curry
This is a haven for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. A great place to eat if you are interested in exploring more plant-based options.
Places like True Food Kitchen make eating healthy fun and accessible, even if eating healthy can seem daunting at times.
You will like the energy and the atmosphere. The menu has a variety of foods and sounds dee-lish. That also makes it hard to decide so if you can, go with 2 or 3 friends and share!
The Edamame Dumplings are an incredible appetizer!
The Chicago Diner
📍3411 N Halsted St.
Recommendations: Radical Reuben, Portobello Truffle Melt, Thai Basil Stir Fry, Carrot Cake
The Chicago Diner is a popular spot for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
The menu features all of your diner favorites made with plant-based ingredients, including burgers, nachos, mac and cheese, and more.
The best part? The food is healthy, so you can indulge without feeling guilty.
📍2054 W Grand Ave
Recommendations: Breakfast Sandwich, Fried Bacon Mac, Chicago Style Italian Beef
Upton’s Breakroom is a casual counter-serve eatery from the team behind the popular vegan Upton’s Naturals seitan brand.
The food here is hearty and filling, perfect for a winter day in Chicago. They use all vegan Upton’s products found in stores like Whole Foods. It has a menu featuring salads, sandwiches, and more. Also, there’s a little side business called Liberation Donuts.
Highlights from the menu include the seitan Reuben sandwich, Thai curry noodles, and chili cheese fries. And of course, you can’t leave without trying one of their delicious seitan wings.
Native Foods Cafe
📍218 South Clark Street
Recommendations: Recommendations: BBQ Brisket Burger, The Real Nashville Hot, Cauliflower Chickpea Shawarma Wrap
Native Foods Cafe is a chain restaurant with multiple locations in Chicago (and across the country).
The menu features a variety of salads, bowls, sandwiches, pizzas, and wraps – all made with fresh, organic ingredients.
Whether you’re looking for something light or something hearty, Native Foods has you covered.
Final Thoughts on Plant-Based Restaurants in Chicago
With so many great plant-based options to choose from, there’s no excuse not to try one of these restaurants next time you’re in Chicago!
Plant-based diets have gained tremendous popularity over the years due to its numerous health benefits and positive impact on the environment.
Incorporating plant-based foods into our diet not only helps to reduce the risk of chronic diseases but also promotes overall wellbeing.
When it comes to trying out plant-based foods, Chicago boasts of an array of restaurants that cater to this lifestyle. One such restaurant that stands out among the rest is Kale My Name. The restaurant offers a wide variety of plant-based dishes that are not only delicious but also unique in their own way. The portions are generous and increibly tasty.
From smoothie bowls to delectable vegan burgers, these restaurants are among the best in Chicago. So why not give plant-based foods a chance? Your tastebuds and your body will thank you for it.