As a vegetarian with a never-ending curiosity for new tastes and locales, the news of my journey to Chicago for KubeCon had me ecstatic—not just for the conference but also for the promised culinary adventure.
However, my enthusiasm took a hit when I discovered the challenge of finding a genuine vegetarian restaurant in Chicago. So apart from the conference, my other agenda was to find places that served decent vegetarian food.
That quest led me to find 12 restaurants that serve vegetarian food in Chicago which is good. There aren’t many pure vegetarian places like we find in India. Further for most places, vegetarian meant egg too. Hence, this list of restaurants, cafes, and eateries in Chicago are tried and tasted for vegetarian food in Chicago.
Vegetarian Food In Chicago
Unlike India, where most of the population is vegetarian, Chicago isn’t like that. These places are a meat eater’s haven. Bacon, Beef, Ham, you name it, they have it. Regarding vegetarian food, Chicago doesn’t have many places that serve only vegetarian food. Some cafes serve vegan food, but that’s also a rarity.
Further, one thing you must note is that, for many people in Chicago, vegetarian includes egg. So if you don’t eat eggs (like me) make sure to ask for a Vegan menu. A few places I visited didn’t display the menu, but when I enquired about a Vegan menu, they promptly shared one.
Lastly, this list of restaurants serving vegetarian food in Chicago isn’t comprehensive as Chicago is a massive city. But all the restaurants mentioned in this list are tried and tasted by me, so you can be assured of good food!
Pizzas & Sandwiches
A mix of Chicago’s iconic deep-dish pizzas and sandwich spots, catering to vegetarian preferences.
Giordano’s is a staple for Chicago’s deep-dish pizzas. For deep dish pizza they have super veggie and Spinach pizzas, I tried their Super Veggie deep-dish pizza which was good. They also have some vegetarian regular pizzas alongside classic sides like fries and garlic bread. Vegetarians will find ample choices here, which was a pleasant surprise. Read my detailed review of Giordano’s Pizza.
A pilgrimage for deep-dish pizza enthusiasts, Pizzeria Uno is a must-visit. They too have a couple of vegetarian deep dish pizzas Veggie and Spinoccoli. I tried the Spinoccoli and it turned out to be pretty good. The sauce here is better than Giordano’s according to me. . The bustling bar vibe and delightful mocktails added to the experience. Read my detailed thoughts on Pizzeria Uno.
Similar to Subway but with its own twist, Potbelly offered several vegetarian sandwich options. They have some vegetarian combos with soup and you can add a beverage to it by paying extra. I opted for their Mushroom and Avocado sandwich paired with a delightful Creme of Mushroom soup. The sandwich was okayish, with lots of raw veggies and mushrooms, but the soup stole the show.
A trusted go-to for checking out vegetarian options. Fortunately, the owners were Indians and understood our preferences, offering the usual Subway experience with an array of sauces and veggies catering to vegetarians. They have Italian Garlic bread and some new sauces that you don’t find here in India.
A list of cafes offering breakfast items, baked goods, and beverages, providing both quick bites and leisurely experiences.
Goddess & The Baker
One of the popular breakfast places in Chicago that I went to. The menu is nice but not many vegetarian options. Most of their vegetarian items included eggs. I asked about Vegan items and luckily the lady at the counter was vegan, so she handed out a vegan menu that had a few vegan-ised items from the menu. I relished their vegan burger and Mocha, both hitting the spot. They have an array of cakes, and pastries too. Recommended place for breakfast.
Corner House Bakery
I literally found outlets of Corner House Bakery at different corners of the city. The concept is quick-eat items along with coffee. They do have sit-down areas. A quick and convenient chain where I found solace in their Cream Cheese bagel and Coffee combo – simple yet incredibly satisfying. This combo became a personal favourite during my visit to the USA!
A paradise for those with a sweet tooth. Molly’s Cupcakes is an award-winning dessert place that serves an array of cupcakes and muffins along with other items. I went here just to try their Blueberry cheesecake cupcake which was yummmm! The option to create custom cupcakes and the availability of a few eggless choices made this spot even more appealing.
A lively café that made for a perfect pit stop on our way to Navy Pier. Offering an extensive breakfast menu, we sampled various coffees from Cappuccino to hot chocolate and cold brew, all of which were delightful. The setup was pretty good and was busy. Seemed like a good place to work from too.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery
The world’s largest Starbucks, how can you not visit this massive roastery? A visit to this place is a must, not only for the food but for the experience. Though not abundant in vegetarian options, they do offer decent pizza slices, pasta, and coffee. I tried the Margarita slice along with Oleato Cold Brew which was pretty good. Refer to my review of the largest Starbucks in the world for more details.
One cuisine that I didn’t want to eat during my USA trip was Indian. However, I had my teammates who wanted to eat Indian, so we explored Indian eateries too. Here are some Indian restaurants in Chicago serving vegetarian food.
An authentic Indian dining experience in Chicago. We were a group of 30 people who went here for dinner and this place was full. It’s a small sit-down eatery serving Indian food. We had a pretty desi-type order which included Chilly Paneer, Paneer Tikka, Kadhai Paneer, Kofta, and Jeera rice. The flavours were reminiscent of home and definitely worth travelling beyond the Chicago loop.
Nestled within a food mall, Cumin Club’s customizable bowls with paneer or chicken, various sauces, and rice options made for a flavorful and affordable meal. They also serve wraps, so you can convert your bowl into a warp too. I tried both the bowl and wraps and liked both. At ~$13, this is pretty good. A definite must-try for Indian cuisine in Chicago.
Known for serving authentic Nepali cuisine in Chicago, Nepal House offers a blend of Indian and Nepali cuisine. We tried Paneer Butter Masala, Nepali Aloo-Beans Curry, and Tandoori Roti. The flavours were pretty homely and nothing fancy. So if you’re missing ghar ka khaana in Chicago, Nepal House should not disappoint.
Exploring Chicago’s food scene as a vegetarian proved challenging, with many eateries offering supposedly vegetarian dishes that often hid non-vegetarian elements. Despite this hurdle, a few places stood out as saviours. Giordano’s Pizzeria, Pizzeria Uno, and Goddess And The Baker offered flavorful vegetarian options.
A note of caution though: the overall taste in most non-Indian places leaned towards blandness, requiring a touch of extra seasoning.
The real winners were the Indian restaurants like Adda, Cumin Club, and Nepal House, serving authentic flavours that truly satisfied them. These spots provided a respite from the otherwise subdued tastes prevalent in Chicago’s non-Indian culinary scene.
If you’re a vegetarian visiting Chicago, this list could be your go-to guide, ensuring a more enjoyable dining experience in a city that might otherwise leave your taste buds wanting. Let me know your thoughts, suggestions, feedback, criticism, or appreciation in the comments below, Tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM on Instagram or Get In Touch!