*Updated 1/28/24* Chicago has a plethora of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants. If you’re a Chicagoan, or a frequent visitor you’ll find some classics on this list, but you might find a few options you didn’t know about.

Ritual Pastry offers a monthly box and seasonal specials.

*Many of these restaurants are omnivorous (meaning they also serve meat) or vegetarian (also serve dairy & eggs) so I have noted the fully vegan businesses with an asterisk.

I try to update this post regularly, but if you’re in doubt please call ahead to make sure vegan options are still available at the omni places listed here. Follow me on Instagram to see where I’m eating today!

New/Coming Soon/Haven’t Tried Yet

These are places I haven’t tried yet either because they’re still on my to-do list or they aren’t open yet.

*Healthy Substance – Vegan comfort food in the Garfield Ridge community.

La Esperanza Restaurant Oficial – Authentic Mexican cuisine with a massive vegan menu

Cafe Mas – From the folks behind Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria comes Chicago’s only 100% vegan coffee shop

Top Picks

These are the places that, in my opinion, you cannot miss. They range from absolute classics to some sleepier gems that only true Chicago vegans know about.

*Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria – Now with two locations, these cute and colorful taquerias feature authentic Mexican flavors from the folks behind the popular catering and pop-up business Vegan Street Food. The elote is a must, and you can get it on the cob in or in a cup if you’d like to share. Quesabirria is another popular dish tacos made with mushrooms and vegan cheese, dipped in guajillo sauce and served with a dipping broth. Our favorite are the potato-filled Enchiladas Potosinas, and the variety of horchatas including matcha, strawberry dragonfruit, and butterfly pea flower – a stunning blue horchata with an earthy flavor.

Dol Sot Bi Bim Bab from Alice and Friends

*Alice and Friends – One of the few restaurants where all three members of my human family can find something they like. Lots of Korean-inspired dishes, but also one of Tony’s favorite cheeseburgers in the city so there’s truly something for everyone. The ingredients are fresh, the dishes flavorful and creative and dare I say – healthy! Desserts are made in house, and the owner is maybe the nicest person alive.

Paulie Gee’s – Although this is an omni spot, Paulie Gee’s is a Chicago vegan cult favorite because they have an entire vegan pizza menu complete with housemade veggie sausage and two types of vegan cheese. They also offer vegan desserts and, the owner has been super awesome to the vegan community, coming out to vegan pop-ups and other events to show support and to learn about new options for his menu. They also run a slice shop in Wicker Park with vegan options.

*Pie, Pie My Darling – Grab a slice of Pie, Pie My Darling cake from one of her wholesale customers including Liberation Kitchen, Handlebar, Paulie Gee’s, Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria and more. Or, place a pre-order to pick up on Saturdays.

Just opened: Vaca’s Vegan Creamery in Wicker Park

*Majani – With dishes like the crab cake sandwich this 100% vegan soul food restaurant stands out from some of the long-established vegan soul options. When the dining room is open it’s cute and cozy, but we like to get take out and head to the nearby beach to eat on the lake. You can also take a quick walk around the block to all-vegan Bot Bakery which is listed in more detail below!

*Liberation Kitchen – Full disclosure, this cafe is owned by Upton’s Naturals, the company I work for. But, I wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t great. The menu features vegan comfort foods like Fried Bacon Mac and Nachos, plus a retail area featuring vegan chocolates and candies. There’s a newly expanded soft serve menu, and vegan donuts, too!

*Vaca’s Vegan Creamery – Two locations featuring absolutely incredible, housemade vegan soft serve with bonkers-delicious toppings and mix-ins. Get a housemade waffle cone, or try a signature sundae. Don’t sleep on the baked goods available at the Lincoln Square location, either.

Kala Modern Greek – This omni spot would not have ended up on my radar if not for a random text from a friend featuring video of her all-vegan spread. However, there are a lot of vegan options including vegan feta and plant-based keftedes (Greek meatballs) and everything I’ve tried has been fantastic.

Defloured Bakery – This gluten-free bakery has lots of vegan options including a weekly-rotating cake slice flavor and my favorite treat, the Carmel Date Bar that tastes *exactly* like a Millionaire’s Bar for my fellow Great British Bake Off fans.

Blue Sushi Sake Grill – We used to drive all the way to Naperville for good vegan sushi, but no more! Blue Sake Grill is now open in the city with a massive vegan menu that even includes dessert. My personal favorites are the Thai Hippy and the Cowgirl Roll.

*Bloom Plant-Based Kitchen – A casual, but fine dining experience at counter service prices (mostly). You won’t find any store bought meat alternatives on this menu, but you will find a vegetable-forward cuisine with plenty of flavor and spice. This place gets pretty packed so reservations are recommended. They make a great weekend brunch, too!

DMen Tap – You don’t have to drink to have fun at this bar. In fact, I never have. DMen Tap’s vegan-friendly menu offers döner kebab, druidwurst, curry fries, and more, including the occasional special. The music is always great, and they project movies on the wall. Plus, it’s one of the few places I know with Cheerwine cherry soda on the menu.

*Mindful Baking – This popular pop-up bakery now has it’s very own retail storefront in Ravenswood. The pastry case is stocked with all the vegan, gluten free sweet treats you could want, including one of Tony’s favorite brownies in the city. But they also have savory options to enjoy right away, or to bake at home. Rumor has it they also have vegan soft serve now.

Quickies & Coffee

These are mostly counter-service joints that offer quick, usually inexpensive, vegan options. I also included some coffee shops here that have better-than-average vegan options.

*Elephant + Vine – This all-vegan burger-and-shake shop has everything you want in a fast food experience, only vegan. Brought to you by the folks behind Spirit Elephant, there are also some nice salad and bowl options.

Panaderia Nuevo Leon – A Mexican bakery in Pilsen with an amazing assortment of vegan-friendly pastries, breads, and tortillas (clearly marked). In the summertime you can even get a vegan ice cream-stuffed concha.

Mindful Baking gluten-free, vegan treats

*Plant Junkie – This small chain of plant-based counter service eateries can be found in food courts in New York and Chicago. The menu mixes comfort foods like fried seitan and mac and cheese with Southeast Asian flavors. Super convenient if you work downtown, but you can opt for delivery if you don’t want to make the trek. Only open on weekdays!

Oromo Cafe – It’s not cheap, but if you honor the occasional treat yo self day, check this place out. They make all of their non-dairy milks in house (try the pistachio milk when available, good god) and feature lots of superfoods in their drinks, such as the Maple Maca Pecan Latte. They also have lots of vegan pastry options – I love the almond teff cookies.

Quesadilla La Reyna del Sur – Super authentic vegan and vegetarian Mexican food for cheap. Seriously. If you’re a fake meat fan, this is your joint – fake goat, sheep, even pork skin. Not a fake meat fan? Try the mushroom, corn truffle or cactus. They do offer dairy cheese, eggs, and some of the mock meats are made with egg, so be sure to ask if you aren’t sure about what you’re ordering. Now with two locations!

*Beacon Donuts – This walkup window donut shop is 100% vegan, and features some of the most Instagrammable donuts you’ll ever see. Also available in several coffee shops throughout the city.

Even More Good Things

Fried avocado tacos from Handlebar

I told you this was really painful for me to organize because I love so many of these places! While My Top Picks are just that, these places also offer some gems on their menu that you should definitely check out if you have time.

Veggie House – It took us way too long to try this vegetarian and vegan spot based in Chinatown, but once we did we made it a regular stop. You’ll find herbivorous takes on all your favorite Chinese dishes including the can’t-miss spicy dumplings.

*Logan Vegan – An all-vegan scoop shop featuring housemade ice creams made with organic ingredients, plus a nice selection of vegan snacks.

Chicago Diner – Since 1983 The Diner has been serving up meat-free comfort foods in the city best known for Italian beef. I am obsessed with the Country Fried Steak, whereas my husband always goes for the Radical Reuben. You get a ton of food for your money, but don’t stuff yourself with dinner because you’re going to want to get a vegan shake at the end of the meal. Take my advice, and get the Cookie Dough Peanut Butter. (Chicago Diner now has two locations – check the site to find them both.)

*Soli Grill – This menu is a mix of fine dining classics like Short Rib and Chicken Marsala Cassoulet (all vegan, of course) and comfort foods such as mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. Entrees can cost upwards of $28, so it might not be in your weekly rotation, but everything is made from scratch in house and I have yet to try something that wans’t excellent, so you definitely get what you pay for.

*Planta – This concept from Steven Salm and Executive Chef David Lee has several locations throughout the country. The all-vegan menu features sushi, dumplings, noodles, small plates, and even brunch.

*I’m Vegan and Vegetarian – An all-vegan Thai spot in Lakeview. The dishes flavorful and not too expensive! This quickly became a top pick thanks to the steamed bao and the crispy tofu salad. Chicago has a good number of vegan Thai restaurants but this one stands out with it’s unique menu and super fresh ingredients.

Handlebar – This mostly vegetarian (there are some fish items on the menu) place has grown it’s vegan options a lot since I originally created this post. My favorites are the nachos, avocado tacos, and for brunch, the biscuits and gravy. You can also get Pie, Pie My Darling cake by the slice for dessert.

*Urban Vegan – When my favorite Thai restaurant started charging $1 extra for tofu and an additional $1 to omit fish sauce from their dishes, Urban Vegan was there for me. Most entrees squeeze in just under $10, and although there are combos available, I recommend sharing an app and getting your own entree. My favorite is the Praram’s Plate – if you’re a peanut sauce fan you’ll agree with me. If you’re in the Wicker Park area and want something similar try Vegan Plate!

*Amitabul Vegan – Korean-inspired vegan food that’s a little off the beaten path, which means a super chill atmosphere. Most of the menu is made without oil, so it’s a healthy option, too!

*Bot Bakery – In the same South Shore neighborhood as Majani, you’ll find an all-vegan and gluten-free spot owned by “Betty Bot,” a staple at Chicago farmers markets for years. The shop features desserts, of course, but also lots of lunch and brunch options, as well as a selection of vintage clothes and housewares.

Omnivore With Options

As much as I love all of Chicago’s exclusively vegetarian and vegan restaurants, I love finding hidden treasure even more. These are places that you can go with your omnivore friends, or go alone to show support for restaurants that offer us more than a salad. Please note, some of the places listed in other categories above are also omnivore joints!

Rakkan Ramen – All of their ramens are made with plant-based broth, and four varieties are completely vegan. Vegan options on the menu are clearly marked, and plentiful.

Yvolina’s Tamales – Oh my gosh, what a gem! Your omni friends can do their thing while you enjoy a variety of vegan options in this unassuming tamale joint.

Duck Duck Goat – All of Top Chef champion Stephanie Izard’s restaurants have an entirely separate vegetarian and/or vegan menu. just ask when you’re being seated. Duck Duck Goat is my husband’s favorite place,  all but 2-3 items on the vegetarian menu can be made vegan. You’ll need reservations for a Friday or Saturday so plan ahead!

Chicago style dog from Budacki’s

Budacki’s Drive In – This no-frills hot dog stand is right off the Brown Line, and one of my son’s favorite places. They have veggie dogs, that I believe are Smart Dogs, which you can dress up anyway you like with a side of fries and a can of pop for just a few dollars. Cash only!

Nhu Lan Bakery – I’m obsessed with the lemongrass tofu, although the ginger tofu is also amazing. I did try the veggie pate and ham and wasn’t a fan, but god damn it, I’m just glad it exists!

Made with Cheeze and Thank You cheeses

Casati’s Modern Italian – This Italian restaurant has a separate vegan menu that offers vegan cheese on pasta dishes and a few flatbread pizza options.

Buona – That’s right, this Chicago-famous Italian beef joint has a plant-based option called the Italian Beefless Sandwich, or get the Beefless in a bread-free bowl.

Honorable Mentions

If you text me and are nearby any of them I will tell you to go there – they just didn’t quite fit into my Top Picks or other categories for some reason I can’t explain, leave me alone, this post was hard.

Dairy Star – Technically not in Chicago, but close enough. This Kosher ice cream spot offers vegan soft serve, and tons of vegan sundaes and other options – you can even get your treat topped with vegan whipped cream!

Middle East Bakery & Grocery – Also in Andersonville, the bakery here features several vegan savory pies filled with lentils, potato, spinach, and more.

*Cinnaholic – This secretly 100% vegan cinnamon roll franchise now has two suburban locations outside of Chicago, and a newly opened Wicker Park location in the city proper. Check out their store locator online.

Pop Ups

With Dustin Harder (The Vegan Roadie) at Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen
  • *Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen – A rotating array of vegan vendors pop up at The Plant every Sunday during market season.
  • *Vegan in the Burbs – I believe this pop up market is just called “Vegan Market” now, but it mainly pops up in the ‘burbs, making it a unique opportunity for folks who don’t live in the city to experience these vegan vendors. Follow Cruelty Free You + Me to see where the market is popping up next.
  • *Herbivore Chicago – Herbivore sadly closed the doors of their brick and mortar location in the summer of ’23, but you can still catch them at the occasional pop-up. Don’t miss out on their Italian offerings!
  • *Libby’s Corner – A staple at Chicago (and suburban) vegan markets, Libby’s Corner offers up vegan soul food with their famous 3 and 5-piece meal deals. Do not sleep on the mac and cheese, or the biscuits!
  • *Cheeze and Thank You – Cheeze and Thank You makes artisan vegan cheeses that look and taste just like the fancy cheeses at expensive grocery stores. (Also available in Midwest Whole Foods Market locations!)
  • *Bravo Vegan Tamales – I always pick up a few extra to have for lunch the next day because they’re so good. My favorite is the “chicken” with red sauce.
  • *Ste Martaen – Laviyah and Nahum’s talents are otherworldly. Nourishing, hearty food that will feel like a hug for your soul.
  • *Fox Ship Bakery – You might find them popping up at a farmers market, but even when you can’t these HUGE cookies and brownies are available for Chicago pick up, or can be shipped nationwide.
  • *Ritual Pastry – Don’t miss the pastry boxes, which change monthly. Each one comes packed with pastries, cookies, and cakes that all revolve around a fun theme like Twin Peaks or the Full Moon.
  • *Snackie Chan – This cottage kitchen company offers 100% vegan bento boxes for pick up. Follow Ashley on Instagram to see what’s on the menu from week to week.
  • *Justice Cream – A WOC-led, community-owned non-profit ice cream pop-up with flavors such as Fudge the Police and Berry the Colonizer. Check their IG to see where they’re popping up next.
  • Donutistry – A relatively new addition to Chicago pop-ups, Donutistry makes amazing, vegan-friendly raised and filled donuts.

Road Trip

These are options that might be a bit out of the way for folks who are visiting without a car – or Chicagoans like me who primarily get around on the El. But if you can catch a ride, they’re worth checking out.

  • *Soli Grill – Sister restaurant to Bat17, this all vegan restaurant has some really unique menu items like a housemade plant-based steak, and lots of sushi rolls. Plus, it’s right off the Purple Line so it’s easy to get to even if you don’t have a car, and it’s in a very shoppable part of Evanston so you could grab a meal and kill a few hours in the area.
  • Blind Faith Cafe – This was one of the first vegan/veggie restaurants I ever went to back in the Krishna-core days. It was pricer than I could really afford back then, but nowadays it’s a good date spot and a nice place to bring my mom. If you eat in the sit-down restaurant, skip the plated dessert menu and order something from the bakery instead – like the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake – dang.
  • *Pig Minds Brewing – I still cannot believe this place is real. About two hours outside of Chicago in a completely industrial area you will find this vegan brewery and wonder what the eff just happened. Soy curl sandwiches and deep fried pickles are some of my favorite menu items – but mostly I just love looking around at all the non-vegans happily eating vegan food in Machesney Park, IL like it ain’t no thang.
  • *Vegan Cafe – Much respect to these folks for keeping a raw, vegan cafe going in CM Punk’s hometown or Lockport! Really delicious, healthy raw vegan eats. I try to go whenever I visit my mom.
  • *Spirit Elephant – Not too far outside of city limits this upscale 100% vegan restaurant is definitely worth getting in the car or navigating your way there via public transportation. The vegetable-forward menu is a nice break from some of the meat alternative-heavy menus you’ll find throughout the city.
  • *Madame Zuzu’s Plant-based Emporium – Owned by The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, this 100% vegan cafe features a selection of soups, salads, sandwiches and bowls that are freshly made in-house, as well as a coffee menu and a variety of cookies, donuts, and muffins. The tea menu is the star of the show – I recommend looking at it ahead of time online so as not to get overwhelmed when you order. Eventually this space will also serve as a small venue.
  • *The Chunky Scone – These former pop-up darlings make. wide variety of vegan baked goods including conchas, cakes, churros, and of course scones. They just opened a shop in Highland Park, which is just outside of Chicago.

Shopping & Services

My bob is so fancy they call it a Robert.
My bob is so fancy they call it a Robert.

*Starship Salon – At Starship Salon all of the products are cruelty-free, and you can opt for an all-vegan service (just ask). It’s vegan-owned, and many of the employees are vegan so there’s always good chatter about new things to eat.

Lena Rose – This Lincoln Square spot is my go-to for cruelty-free skincare, cosmetics and spa treatments. Some of the products they carry do contain honey, but the staff is very knowledgeable about veganism, and can direct you to all the 100% plant-based items. Plus, they offer 5-free no-chip manicures, pedicures and lots of other pampering treatments.

So there you have it – the vegan-friendly places I recommend time and time again. Did I leave your favorite off the list? Feel free to leave a comment about it! Do you own a vegan-friendly business in Chicago? Hit up the comments to tell me about it.