By Sarah Jost
In a small, unassuming building on Chicago’s North Side lies a vegan mecca of utmost decadence. I first experienced the vegan euphoria of the Chicago Diner on my birthday a few years ago when my mum ordered me one of their cookies and cream cakes. The following year we went there to celebrate my birthday with a full meal and later that summer I ordered my mum a personalised cake from the Diner to celebrate her 60th birthday.
The Chicago Diner is the midwestern vegan manifested as a restaurant, with a menu chockfull of of American classics like the Radical Reuben sandwich, the BBQ Bacun Cheezeburger, Philly Steak sandwiches, and the Special Recipe Wingz. A surprising, yet seemingly universal, effect of becoming vegan is a sudden penchant for foods you never particularly cared for as an omnivore, but now inexplicably crave in their vegan carnation. For me, this includes any type of pastry or dessert, reuben sandwiches, and anything with seitan chicken.
The Diner itself behaves much like the Room of Requirement in the Harry Potter series – transforming from a vegan bloody mary, tofu scramble, and french toast brunch with friends to a date night to a late night, post-drinks hangover prevention haven. Whatever your occasion, the Chicago Diner has an atmosphere to suit your needs, including an outdoor patio for Chicago’s all too short, yet splendid, summer months.
In addition to serving delicious, healthy, and ethical fare, the Chicago Diner also serves as an advocate for animal rights and environmentally friendly practices through both their business operations (locally grown produce, fair trade organic coffee, eco-friendly takeaway utensils, bio-diesel waste oil) and support of charitable organisations (the Farm Sanctuary). All menu items are either vegan or have vegan options, most beers and wines served are vegan, the vegan cheese is locally made by Chicago Vegan Foods, and the tofu is made from Illinois-grown, non-GMO crops.
The Chicago Diner is located at 341 North Halsted in Chicago. If you find yourself in the area, I would highly recommend the Radical Reuben, the Philly Steak, the cinnamon roll, the Egg-Biscuit Sammy, and a cookie dough peanut butter milkshake.