Last night, I posted about the fun time I had at Chicago Veggie Fest — doing cooking demos, signing books, eating delicious vegan festival food. Tonight, I'll post about the food I ate in Chicago outside the festival.
It was a really quick trip (arrived Friday at 4 p.m. and left Sunday 5 p.m., and most of the time in between was spent at Veggie Fest), so I didn't have nearly enough time to squeeze in all the stuff I wanted to eat. But I knew that a trip to Chicago would not be complete without a visit to the Chicago Diner. Soon after checking into our hotel in Warrenville (way, way out in the suburbs), Paul and I hopped back in the car (after a 10-hour car trip, mind you) and drove another hour into the city.
Little did I know, the Chicago Diner is right in the heart of Boystown!! There were rainbows and adorable gay boys and lovely lesbians everywhere!! My kind of place. These rainbow art installation street signs are all up and down North Halsted, where the Chicago Diner is.
Once inside, I ordered a Bloody Mary right away, because, vegan Bloody Mary. I asked for the spicy version and look how it came garnished — with "spicy" written in sriracha!
I'd been studying the menu for weeks, so I already knew what I wanted to order. We started with the Vegan Poutine (Teese cheese, gravy, sour cream, vegan bacon, and scallions atop waffle fries). BEST THING EVER! Even my omni boyfriend couldn't stay out of it. I think he ate more of this than I did. I was trying to save my appetite for the big entree.
Also, Paul ordered some Edamamme as an appetizer because he loves the stuff. I like it too, but I can eat that anywhere. Meh.
For my entree, of course I ordered the Radical Reuben! How could I order anything else? It's the stuff vegan dreams are made of — corned beef seitan, Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut, vegan cheese, and marbled rye. Oh my! Every bite was pure magic.
The Chicago Diner offers dairy cheese by request, so I fully expected Paul to order something with dairy cheese. But you know what? He ordered a totally vegan entree with no prodding from me — the Country Fried Steak.
Wow. This was just as good as the reuben, if not better. It was a tender seitan steak coated in the world's best crispy breading and deep-fried and then covered in country gravy. Lucky for me, Paul could only eat about half before he was full, and then he said I could have the rest for breakfast in the hotel room! Score. He raved and raved about that country fried steak all weekend. He just couldn't believe how much he loved seitan. Planting seeds, my friends. Planting seeds.
Anyway, we were way too full for dessert, which is damn shame. Chicago Diner is known for their phenomenal milkshakes. But I'll have to save that for next time.
We ate at the Veggie Fest for lunch on Saturday, but we headed back into the city Saturday night for dinner. Now I really had my heart set on a meal at Upton's Breakroom, but I promised Paul we'd find him a Chicago dog while we were there. And since he was such a good boy and ate all vegan on Friday night, I decided we could opt for a vegan-friendly hot dog joint for dinner.
Huey's Hot Dogs has both meaty Chicago dogs and vegan ones. Here's mine loaded up with tomatoes, mustard, a pickle, sport peppers, and celery salt. This meal was delicious! I'm a sucker for a good hot dog. Plus, this place has a dog-friendly patio, so we spent our meal hanging out with other people's pooches.
Speaking of pooches, we stumbled upon a "gourmutt" Doggie Food Truck just a few blocks down from Huey's!! Fido's To-Go sells doggie fro-yo and fresh baked treats.
I picked up a couple of Peanut Butter and Coconut Rice Krispie Treats for Maynard and Datsun.
I was kinda hoping there'd be enough time left to swing by Upton's for a late-night snack, but they close at 10 p.m. and we just couldn't make it. Next time.
Even though we were stuffed, I wanted to check out Handle Bar, a mostly vegetarian bar (they do serve a few fish dishes) in Wicker Park.
I ordered a Beermosa — made with the regionally brewed (Michigan) Bell's Oberon Ale and a splash of orange juice. Very summery and refreshing.
Sad story: We parked the car about a block away from Handlebar, and as I stepped out of the vehicle, guess what I saw — a Vietnamese sandwich shop called Bon Bon. And guess what they had in their window — a menu that listed vegan ramen as an option. I wanted it sooooooo bad!!! But we'd just left Huey's, and I was stuffed. I considered letting my inner glutton shine through, ordering it anyway, and dealing with the guilt later. But I talked myself out of it.
I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd just ordered those damn noodles and worked extra hard to get back on track this week. Damn food guilt. I woke up the next morning thinking about those noodles. That's how badly I wanted them. You know ramen is, like, sacred food to me, right? Anyway, once we were back to the hotel and Sunday at Veggie Fest, we were about an hour outside the city and driving in just for noodles was too far out of the way. But next time, right? Next time. I have a lot to do next time! Guess I'll have to plan a trip back to Chicago soon.