Today I write to you lying in my hotel room bed, rubbing my belly two seconds away from a complete vegan food coma. My last trip to Chicago was mediocre in the food department, but I knew there were better restaurants out there than the previously blogged about Karyn's Cooked. In walks The Chicago Diner (3411 N. Halsted Chicago, IL), like a knight in shining armor. I'm always intimidated when I go to an all veg*n restaurant. It's strange to look at nearly everything on the menu and realize "I can eat this!" The Chicago Diner's menu has old standbys like Chicken Caesar Salad and Cobb Salad all the way to amazing entrées such as the Vegan Crab Cakes or Red Pepper Ravioli (which I tried). They also have a great kids menu with quesadilla's, Not Dogs, Grilled Cheese and pasta marinara.
I started off with the BBQ Wingz made of seitan with vegan ranch dipping sauce. The wings were okay but the vegan ranch dressing was incredible. I even got some to go so i can enjoy it on a salad or for dipping later. Then of course there is the list of vegan milkshakes & supershakes. My original choice of strawberry was not available but I honestly can't imagine anything tasting more perfect than the Blueberry Shake I ended up ordering. I tried to save room for desert but sipping on this milkshake throughout my meal was more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. The vegan shakes are also made with real fruit so it took away some of my guilt for devouring such a large treat.
For my entrée I went with the Red Pepper Ravioli. I haven't had ravioli since my vegetarian days so this was a welcome treat. The ravioli was stuffed with tomato, zucchini, red pepper and onion with a creamy tomato-vodka sauce served with a side of veggies and garlic bread. The portions were more than generous and the taste was pure perfection. Even when I was way past my limit I still continued to nibble on the ravioli until i literally couldn't fit another bite into my mouth. Just writing about them makes me want to grab them out of the fridge (because of course I had to take some back with me) and have another bite. The hotel room service menu here isn't very vegan friendly but The Chicago Diner has come to my rescue for breakfast tomorrow. I ordered the brunch special for the day of Breakfast Pizza with tomatoes, pineapple, vegan Canadian bacon and soy cheese. I took a little bite of it before putting it in the fridge to save for tomorrow and it was all I could do to not eat the entire thing on the spot.
Hopefully I'll get the chance to go back one more time before I leave to try their $5.95 vegan brunch. The Huevos a la Mexicana (scrambled tofu,tomato, onion, jalapeño, avocado, cilantro, vegan cheese, tortillas, rice, beans and salsa) that the table next to me were eating was calling my name and I can't imagine leaving without trying them.
The Chicago Diner is definitely a mandatory destination for anybody in the Chicago area or visiting. The service was quick and friendly. Every server in there was helpful, you didn't have to wait for your server to come back for you to order, get extra napkins, more sauce or just for someone to check on you to see how your meal was going. I felt like i should tip everyone when I left. The only downside the Chicago Diner is that it is also a vegetarian restaurant so you have to specify that you want vegan cheese and there are eggs in some things but everything can easily be replaced with vegan options. I did also spot some honey on one of the tables, but at the next table over there was agave nectar as well. So as far as complaints go, this is a small one.