*Updated 9/28/2022* 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

*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.

*Soli Grill – No one seems to know much about this mysterious storefront being constructed on Southport Ave!

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.

Casa Yari – Tony and I tried this Latin-inspired restaurant (for carry out because, you know, COVID) after seeing our friend Max, the chef from Herbivore Chicago, post about it a bunch of times. Nearly everything on the menu has a creative vegan option (by which I mean, it’s not just “without the cheese”) and if you follow them on Instagram you can get a heads up on new additions. We’ve been back several times, eating our way around the menu and every single time we can’t say enough about how much we love it.

*Penelope’s Vegan Taqueria – Just off the Chicago Brown Line stop, this cute and colorful taqueria features 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 recently opened a slice shop in Wicker Park with vegan options.

Just opened: Vaca’s Vegan Creamery in Wicker Park

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!

*I’m Vegan and Vegetarian – A brand-new, 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.

*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 plenty of bowls and salads. There’s a newly expanded soft serve menu, and vegan donuts, too!

*Herbivore Chicago – Operating out a commercial kitchen, this vegan pop-up is run by Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Max Musto. They pop up at Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen often, and you can also find out about their pick up days by following them on Instagram. I order the frozen lasagna 1-2 times per month for an easy, delicious dinner at home.

*Vaca’s Vegan Creamery, from the folks behind the delicious, but now defunct All Tomorrow’s Pastries – Absolutely incredible, housemade vegan soft serve with bonkers-delicious toppings and mix-ins. Get a housemade waffle cone, or try a signature sundae. Currently only open for take-out, but you can walk across the street and chill in the park with your goodies.

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.

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!

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.

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.

*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. They also serve breakfast on weekdays from 7:30am until 10am.

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.

Fried avocado tacos from Handlebar

*Native Foods – Quick service vegan food with lots of locations all over the city. I wouldn’t go out of my way for it, but if you’re in a hotel or attending a conference nearby one, it’s a great option.

Even More Good Things

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.

*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.)

Fauxdag from Eris Brewery

Ground Control – Whereas most Chicago vegan/veggie joints have become institutions, Ground Control reminds me more of the quirky vegan restaurants in the Bay Area. My favorite dish is the Southern Breakfast, which you can get sans egg to make it vegan.

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.

Little Goat Diner – As I mentioned, all of the “goat” family of restaurants have a seperate vegetarian and/or vegan menu with some truly remarkable options. Little Goat is the less expensive, casual little sister of Girl and the Goat, and features some stand-outs such as the scallion pancake and the smoked French fries. You can even get a vegan chocolate shake!

*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 – Koren-inspired vegan food that’s a little off the beaten path, which means a super chill atmosphere. You might need to take a Lyft, or ask a friend with a car to take you, but it’s a good lunch spot if you make it out there.

Portobello po boy from Ground Control

*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.

*Althea – This all-vegan fine dining restaurant is located inside Saks Fifth Avenue. Head up to the men’s department and you’ll find it all the way in the back. On a nice day you’ll be treated to incredible views of the Magnificent Mile. As for the food, it’s a mix of raw and cooked vegan fare, plated beautifully. We really liked the kimchi dumplings and the raw lasagna.

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.

DönerMen is a food truck and now a tap (Dmen) featuring döner boxes and curry wurst galore. Let them know you’re vegan and they’ll hook it up – and whenever seitan is an option get it!

The Moonlighter – This sports bar has a surprisingly good vegan and vegetarian menu featuring Beyond Burgers, Beyond Sausages and vegan tacos made with Beyond as well.

Eris Brewery & Cider House – This former Masonic temple has been transformed into a beautiful space – perfect for groups, but kid-friendly, too. The vegan items are clearly marked, and much more creative than your typical bar fare.

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.

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!

90 Miles Cuban Cafe – We spend way too much time on the patio here in the summertime, but the vegan options are so good and it’s so close to our house! There are three locations so the likelihood of wandering by one is pretty high.

L.D. Pho – Tony and I have been hitting this place HARD lately. A small, casual Vietnamese spot with a large vegetarian section of the menu with a note to tell them if you’re vegan. The staff knows what’s up, and will leave out the fish sauce and swap in regular tofu for egg tofu. The vegan pho is killer, as is the pad Thai.

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!

Mindful Baking gluten-free, vegan treats purchased at Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen

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.
  • *Pie, Pie My Darling – The most reliable way to try Heather’s sweet treats is to grab a cake slice from Upton’s Breakroom or Handlebar, but she also opens up pick-up orders every weekend, so follow her on Instagram to see when each week’s pre-orders open up.
  • *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.
  • *Sacred Serve – Coconut-based vegan gelato made with superfoods and all sorts of magical ingredients (even sometimes CBD!)
  • *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.
  • *Mindful Baking – This vegan, gluten-free bakery offers a wide variety of goodies and even some savory items. I’m a huge fan of their brownies and bars!
  • *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.

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.

Blue Sake Grill has tons of vegan options that are actually made for vegans, and not just sushi with everything left off of it.
  • 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.
West Town Bakery
  • Ken’s Diner – A Kosher diner that’s been around for 42 years, with a brand-new vegan menu inspired by the owner’s herbivorous children. Diner fare goes vegan – burgers, hot dogs, even milkshakes – prepared on a separate grill by folks who truly know their ingredients and the definition of vegan!.
  • *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.