Thursday, December 29, 2016

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, IL

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, IL

We decided to take a hiatus from Las Vegas this Thanksgiving and head to the windy city! I grew up about 5 hours from Chicago so I spent some time there in my formative years. I haven't been back since living in California or being vegan, so I was really excited to get back there and see what had changed. Chicago is a great city with so much to see and some really popular vegan places like Upton's Breakroom and The Chicago Diner, just to name a few. So, keep reading for all of the ups and downs we had while in Chicago!

I've decided to make my posts a more complete view of my trips. Not only the great vegan food I enjoy and want to share with you, but the other things we get to experience as well. With that said, we got to see so many amazing things on our trip to Chicago.

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, IL

Meet Sue! Matt and I were fortunate enough to met Sue at The Field Museum in Chicago. According to Wikipedia, Sue is the largest, most extensive and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found at over 90% recovered by bulk. Isn't she cute? The Field Museum has so many other cool things to learn about and explore as well, like mummies!

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, IL

You can't go to Chicago without stopping by this reflective bean! Why I don't know, but we went, saw, and selfied. Next!

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, IL

The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the coolest museums I've ever been to. It's about a 20 minute drive from downtown Chicago, but it is one of the best things we did while we were there. I can't even begin to list all the awesome things that we saw while we were there, but a few would be the transportation gallery (complete with flight simulators), Christmas around the world and holiday of lights, Science storms and last but not least, the U-505 German submarine that was captured by the U.S. in 1944, which is pictured above. We paid extra for a tour of the sub and it was an amazing experience. One that you don't get every day.  

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILTraveling Vegan: Chicago, IL

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum is a very different kind of museum. The house and all of it's beautiful contents inside are the exhibits. The detail involved in the architecture is immense (as you can see from the stained glass dome in the gallery pictured above) and we really enjoyed learning about the house and it's history.

And now to the food!

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILNative Foods Cafe
218 S Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 332-6332

While this was not my first time at Native Foods (see my Denver post) this was my first time having it in the city of Chicago. Luckily, this Native Foods location was about a three minute walk from our hotel which became a life saver on Thanksgiving Day.

Chicago seemed to shut down over the Thanksgiving weekend, which is understandable but we still needed to eat! Native Foods came to the rescue on that count. Not only were they open over the Thanksgiving weekend, they were offering a special Thanksgiving dinner buffet on Thanksgiving Day! What luck! We made a reservation and were really excited to have a Thanksgiving dinner, which we had given up on having this year. They had an amazing spread of everything you would expect from a compassionate Thanksgiving dinner. Plus, it was delicious.

Later in our trip, I stopped in for a quick dinner since it was close to our hotel and Matt wasn't eating (more on this later). I had the Native Chicken Run Ranch which they tote as their most popular item and seemed to be right up my alley. Truthfully, it was bland and lacking the punch that similar sandwhichs places like Veggie Grill offer, which was disappointing. But I have had great things at Native Foods in other cities so I know this is not representative of the rest of the food they offer.

The Native Wellington, Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Native Stuffing, Cranberry Compote, Green Bean Casserole, Green Salad with Maple Glaze, Pecan and Pomegranate Pearls, Po lenta Butternut Squash Terrine, Wheatberry Waldorf, Cornbread with Butter, Double Chocolate Brownies, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie

Crispy, battered Native Chicken, ranch dressing, romaine, red onions and carrots, served on a whole-wheat bun.

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILUpton's Breakroom
2054 West Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60612

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILWhen we decided that we were going to Chicago for Thanksgiving, I knew that Upton's Breakroom was a must do. Upton's products are a favorite in our house so I wanted very much to visit their facilities and eat some of their yummy food in the cafe. It's a very nondescript building that would be very easy to pass without noticing it but it holds some of the yummiest vegan food in Chicago. We got an array of food and none of them were disappointing. The highlight was the Fried Bacon Mac. It was cheesy, savory and had a strong smoky element. It was a very well done mac and cheese, which I think will be making an appearance on my top 5 vegan mac and cheese post very shortly.

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, IL
Since they serve breakfast all day at Upton's on the weekend, I decided to try the Combo Plate on the servers reccommendation. All of the items they included in the combo plate went really well together but the tofu scramble was the highlight of the plate.

With the other foods we chose to try, we wanted to make sure we had something green on our plates as well. So we ordered the Greens. The seasonal greens were grilled kale, which was really good and refreshing after eating so many carbs and sweets during the trip.

Housemade mac & cheese with our Bacon Seitan, fried on the grill to order. (Upton’s favorite!)

Tofu scramble with kale, tomato and potatoes, served with half a Belgian waffle, our Bacon Seitan and real maple syrup.

Flash grilled seasonal greens.

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILPotatoes, cheese, sour cream, and chives

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILThe Chicago Diner
2333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 252-3211

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILThis is a hard review to write. The Chicago Diner was number one on our list of places to eat. So much so, that we went there straight from the airport the day before Thanksgiving to make sure we didn't run into any restricted holiday hours. We had a great experience there and really enjoyed the food. The poutine and the chocolate chip cookie dough shake were the highlights but we also really enjoyed our main courses as well. If you have read some of my other posts, you know that I love pierogis and can't get them enough on the west coast. When I'm traveling, I always go for the pierogis when offered. So I really enjoyed the pierogi quesadilla I ordered. The inside of the restaurant is a cool place and the staff is really helpful and friendly.

Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILSo what was the problem? Exactly 24 hours after eating at The Chicago Diner, my husband came down with SEVERE food poisoning. I'll spare you the details, which I'm sure he will appreciate, but I was very close to taking him to the hospital on Thanksgiving night. Because we were traveling together we shared or had the same food 24 hours prior to and after the food poising, other than the Titanic BLT that Matt had at the Chicago Diner. I, thankfully, was fine. We notified The Chicago Diner and they were very responsive and took it very seriously. We were happy to learn that this is the first reported case of food poisoning they have had. Of course we can't be 110% sure that this particular meal gave my husband food poisoning but all signs pointed to it. I couldn't in good conscience write this review without giving the full experience of our visit, but we will give The Chicago Diner another go the next time we are in Chicago. 
Traveling Vegan: Chicago, ILPOUTINE
Canadian style waffle fries topped with melted Teese Vegan Cheese, country gravy & green onions.

Sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, green onions, sautéed mushrooms & Daiya® Cheddar in a folded tomato basil tortilla with vegan dill sour cream.

Our veggie seitan patty topped with seitan bacon & french fried onions, lettuce, tomato & Chipotle FireTM sauce.



What are your favorite vegan spots in Chicago? Let me know in the comments!

All photos by Ashley of

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