Category Archives: Restaurants

Amsterdam Falafel – Washington, DC

Amsterdam Falafel is a falafel shop in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. All they sell is falafel sandwiches, french fries and brownies (which aren’t vegan). What makes them special is that you get to make your own falafel sandwich. They make the falafel for you, put it in a pita and then hand it over for you to add toppings to it from their fixings bar, many of which are vegan. They’ve got guidelines on how to do this, though, so make sure to read the instructions posted on the walls before diving in or you might get yelled at soup nazi style.

Lisa:

Amsterdam offers sandwiches in two sizes: small – 3 balls, and large – 5 balls. I got the large because we’d skipped breakfast. I added hummus, cucumbers with chickpeas and dill, giardiniera and tahini sauce. I also got a small order of fries. The pita was doughy and moist and all of the toppings I added made a winning combination. I love french fries and Amsterdam’s french fries would rank about a six in my book, with 10 being the best. They give you the fries in little paper cones and each of their tables has holes cut into it so you can stand your fries in them as seen in the picture. We were lucky enough to get there as the lunch rush was ending, so we were able to get a table by the window. I got a delicious meal for less than $10 and I left completely satisfied. I look forward to visiting again someday.

Lisa's Falafel & Fries

Nick:

I lived in the Washington, DC area for most of the year 2005. I was never much a fan of living there, but the one thing I missed when I moved away was Amsterdam Falafel. I fell in love with the idea of a restaurant that only sold falafel and french fries – it just seemed like simplistic genius. I’ve had falafel all over the country and Amsterdam Falafel makes some of the best falafel I’ve had  (the only place that rivals their falafel in my opinion, is a restaurant called Natalie’s, in Buffalo, NY). One of the critical errors I consistently make whenever I go to Amsterdam Falafel since I moved away is that I opt for the full pita rather than the half. First off, a 5 ball sandwich is huge – especially when you add the fixings. Secondly, its very difficult to get a good falafel to fixings ratio. So I recommend getting the smaller size falafel and a small order of fries. As far as the fixings go, I love the Turkish Salad and the Crunchy Onions. This time around I mixed it up and added some Baba Ganoush, as well, which has a delightful smokey flavor. I should note that the vegan and non-vegan items are not clearly marked. Luckily, the items that are not vegan are few in number. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the staff are usually fairly chill.

I do want to take a moment to get on a soap box. I mentioned earlier that Amsterdam Falafel was a genius idea and I’ve even thought of how successful it would be to import the idea here. Amsterdam Falafel is in a bar neighborhood and open late which makes it an ideal after concert snack. You would think that when I saw that Amsterdam Falafel are now trying to franchise the idea that I would be stoked. Unfortunately, part of the charm of Amsterdam Falafel is that it is unique. Our whole food tour last weekend was born out of my primary desire to share Amsterdam Falafel with Lisa, so I rented a car and drove half way across the country so that she could enjoy this rare treat. To me franchising the idea and the name cheapens the experience. Vegan food tours are cool because there are so many unique businesses out there to experience. Once a theme restaurant travels to other cities the idea becomes bland and homogenized like every other crappy “main drag” restaurant. The idea of Amsterdam Falafel one day becoming the next Chipotle has no appeal to me. One of the incidental joys of veganism is the diversity that I’ve gotten to experience – relying on specialty cafes, sandwich shops, diners, and bakeries. I love the idea of vegan food being readily available to everyone, but I despise the McDonaldization of most of America, but I guess that’s the next logical extension of growth and success. Anyway, that’s my tirade.

Our dog, Ian MacKaynine, outside of Amsterdam Falafel

Amsterdam Falafel Shop
2425 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-234-1969

One World Cafe – Baltimore, MD

One World Cafe is a vegetarian cafe with vegan options located in Baltimore, Maryland. The cafe is rather large and divided into three sections: a standard cafe with a dessert case up front, a sit down restaurant in the back and a bar in between.

Lisa:

When we first walked into One World, we walked into the cafe area, so I immediately headed to the pastry case to see what kinds of vegan options they had. I was surprised to see how many vegan desserts there were, however, none of them made my mouth water (perhaps Vegan Treats earlier in the afternoon made me raise the bar too high?). We headed back to the restaurant area to wait for a friend. I took a few minutes to check out the menu while we waited. After perusing the vegan options on the menu, I decided to get one of the specials, because nothing on the regular menu sounded particularly appetizing. The couple of dishes I was interested in unfortunately weren’t vegan. The special I went with was a curried chickpea burger topped with the works, which included greens, sprouts, onion and tomato. The burger came with a side of tortilla chips and some tahini sauce. I was disappointed by my burger. It wasn’t anything particularly flavorful and it was a bit dry. I kept pouring tahini on it, but I felt like it needed something more. Since it was a curried chickpea burger, I wanted it to have a little spice to it, but alas, it did not. However, my companions seemed to enjoy their food, so I may have to give One World another shot next time I’m in the area.

Curried Chickpea Burger

Nick:

Back in 2004 I lived in Baltimore for 6 months. During that time I was a regular at One World Cafe and my dish of choice was the Philly Cheese Steak-Less. I have to admit that I’m spoiled by living in Chicago where we have our own companies manufacturing faux meat and cheese, helping to push the envelope of quality vegan food in our local eateries. What I’m getting at is that the Philly Steak-Less hasn’t evolved in the 7 years I’ve been away, even though there have been huge advances in meat and cheese alternatives around the country. One of the things I love about Chicago establishments, like the Chicago Diner and Handlebar, is that they change their menus and incorporate new products – keeping things fresh. Though the Philly Steak-Less was really good in 2004, its just okay in 2011 with its Tofutti Mozzarella and corn chips with nothing but Veganaise to dip them in. The bite I had of Lisa’s Curry Chick Pea Burger was sort of uninspiring as well. I feel bad being critical – I loved having One World to rely on when I lived in Baltimore and they make some quality vegan food – I just think that they need to be more proactive in experimenting with the latest innovations in vegan products. I was genuinely surprised that my sandwich tasted exactly the same as I remembered it.

Philly Cheese "Steak-less"

One World Cafe
100 W. University Parkway
Baltimore, MD 21210
410-235-5777

Amy’s Place – Buffalo, NY

On Thursday morning we stopped at Amy’s Place, an old favorite in, Buffalo, NY to get breakfast with Nick’s parents. Amy’s Place is a greasy spoon diner located across the street from the University of Buffalo’s south campus. Amy’s Place offers a $2 (!!) breakfast special before 9am. The $2 breakfast special is limited to a small selection of vegan and non-vegan options, but the rest of the menu includes a lot of clearly marked vegan options, like vegan french toast, sandwiches and more.

Lisa:
I went with the $2 breakfast menu since we made it in right before the cut off. The vegan $2 breakfast consists of lentils with broccoli, home fries and toast. For an additional $1.75  you can add seitan or tofu. I’ve added seitan in the past and you definitely get your money’s worth of it, but I felt like keeping it simple this time so I opted to skip it.
The $2 breakfast isn’t anything mind-blowing, but it is good and the fact that you can get all the food you get for $2 is what makes is special. Everything in my meal was cooked just right – not too oily and not too dry.

$2 Breakfast

Nick:

As a native Buffalonian Amy’s Place has a special place in my heart. Every time I roll through Buffalo I make a point to pop in. Back in the day my friends and I filtered in for what was back in then the $1.00 breakfast. In those days if you asked for it vegan all you got was a double helping of potatoes and a few slices of dry toast, but it was only $1.00, so why wouldn’t you order it? Eventually some of my friends who lived in the University Heights neighborhood became known regulars with sandwiches named after them (I recommend dropping by for the Biff Sandwich) or ended up on the staff. Needless to say, its the type of restaurant where I’m guaranteed to run into someone I know every time I stop in which gives me a particular bias. I love going there, its as simple as that. Fast forward to today’s Amy Place, and the new and improved $2.00 Breakfast Special (formerly the $1.00 Breakfast Special). The $2.00 breakfast consists of a Lentil Broccoli Hash, Country Style Potatoes, and Toast with Vegan Margarine. For $2.00 it is plenty filling and for $1.75 more you can add Tofu or Seitan. In Chicago, where you would pay $7.00 for a meal like this at a place like Flying Saucer, you would likely walk away disappointed. This is not a mind blowing meal, but our sense of value puts everything on a sliding scale. When you take this meal out of the $7.00 price range and it’s suddenly $2.00 – the need to be mind blowing is taken out of the equation. I can’t think of anywhere else in the country where I can get a full vegan meal for $2.00. Factor in being able to enjoy that meal with friends or on a whim and it takes that feeling of value to the next level. After 9AM there are plenty of great options at Amy’s Place. Since they serve meat, you may want to ask prep questions if shared fryers and such weigh on your mind like they do on mine, but if you happen to be in Buffalo over night and you want an early breakfast the $2.00 Vegan Breakfast Special has to be taken advantage of. Remember, it only runs until 9AM each day; oversleep and you’ll miss out.

Amy’s Place
3234 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214
716-832-6666

SCV On the Road – Ft. Lauderdale

There were two restaurants that stood out while we were visiting Ft Lauderdale, Pizza Fusion and Sublime.

Pizza Fusion – 1013 N. Federal Hwy. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 (954) 358-5353

Pizza Fusion is a small eco-friendly chain with locations both in the US and abroad. Their pizzas are all made with organic ingredients and they offer both vegan and gluten free items.
Nick and I ordered the Very Vegan which is topped with vegan cheese, crimini mushrooms, tomato sauce and garlic with the traditional crust (both the whole grain and traditional crusts can be made vegan). We got a large pizza which was more than enough for two people. The cheese wasn’t stretchy, but it did melt well, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say it wasn’t Daiya or Teese, perhaps it was Tofutti? Regardless the pizza was delicious.
If the Very Vegan isn’t your thing, you can create your own pizza with soy cheese, your choice of sauce and your choice of veggies. Pizza Fusion also offers a vegan salad, cane sugar sodas and a vegan/gluten free brownie. The service at their Ft Lauderdale location was good. The servers where friendly, informed and accommodating. So if you’re looking for good vegan pizza in Ft Lauderdale make sure you check them out. Check out their website for other locations before you plan your next trip.

Sublime – 1431 N. Federal Hwy., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304 (954) 615-1431

Sublime was my first experience with vegan fine dining. The restaurant was founded by Nanci Alexander, founder of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF). 100% of Sublime’s profits go to organizations that promote animal welfare and the vegan lifestyle.
The menu at Sublime is entirely vegan. While we were visiting they had a special going for couples that included an appetizer, two entrées and a dessert, so we made sure to take advantage.
Nick and I shared the Frito Misto as an appetizer, I had the “Steak” Sandwich with sweet potato fries as an entrée and Nick had the Broccoli Cheddar Quiche which came with a kale salad, for dessert we had the Apple Crumb Pie a la Mode. Nick’s mom, Linda, and his brother, Mark, also had the couple’s special. Mark got Black Bean and Tomato Soup as an appetizer, Sublime Picatta as his entrée and he and Linda split the Coconut Cake. Linda and Ed (Nick’s dad) got the Vegetable Platter as their entrées: bbq tofu, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and marinated cucumbers; and sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and marinated cucumbers respectively.
Everyone but me had been there before, so I let Nick pick our appetizer. The Frito Misto was amazing! It’s breaded cauliflower with a sweet chili sauce and sesame seeds. It disappeared pretty quickly since it was so good and though it was a good appetizer portion, I was left wanting more. When it came to entrées I went with what I felt was the safest option. The “Steak” in my sandwich was Gardein which has a very meaty consistency and is flavorful, but since I’ve had Gardein before I wasn’t completely blown away. The sweet potato fries, however, were cut steak style and were probably the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. Nick’s quiche made me want to try making my own quiche again, because I forgot how good quiche can be, especially with the advances that have been made on the vegan cheese front. It was made up of broccoli, garlic, shallots, tofu and cheddar “cheese” and it was a nice sized piece. I was also able to sample Mark’s soup, which was a very basic soup which we all felt required something more (either more seasonings or additional veggies like corn or peppers), as well as the almond cookie which came with his and Linda’s Coconut Cake. The almond cookie was sweet, crunchy and divine and made me want to try every dessert on the menu. When it came to my dessert I went with the safest option once again. The Apple Crumb Pie had currants in it which made it better than basic apple pie and it came with just the right amount of ice cream.
Everyone in our dining party was satisfied with their meals. Mark said his Sublime Picatta made with Gardein was so delicious he preferred it to traditional veal picatta and both Linda and Ed were happy with their vegetable platters, as the asparagus was large but properly cooked, however, Ed did mention that the marinated cucumbers could have used a little more marinating time because the ones towards the bottom of the bowl were better than the ones at the top.
Finally the service at Sublime is exceptional. Our waiter was well informed, he was willing to answer questions and he engaged us every time he visited our table. He made sure out drinks were never empty and that we had everything we needed. He was also rather entertaining as he was a bit dramatic and had an odd sense of humor (at one point he made a Hannibal Lecter joke).

I’m looking forward to visiting Sublime again and trying something new!

Sublime is a busy and popular place and despite it’s large size, we had to wait about half an hour for a table, so I recommend making a reservation if you want to dine there. You should also check out their book section by the host/hostess station which includes the Sublime Cookbook, as well as other vegan cookbooks and animal rights books.

Mista Pizza

I visited Mista Pizza last winter with a couple of friends. We’d heard through the Vegan Nerd Meetup that they had vegan options, so we decided to check it out. At the time most of their pizzas could be veganized by substituting Veganrella for whatever cheese was on the pizza. I’m not a huge fan of Veganrella and I wasn’t impressed, however, I recently heard they’d given up Veganrella in favor of Daiya, so Nick & I went to check it out again on Friday night.

Mista’s Broadway location is small and cozy. The man behind the counter was friendly when we walked in and he offered to answer any questions we might have about the menu, so we asked if they had vegan options. We were informed that most of the “Signature Pizzas” could be made vegan with Daiya (which unfortunately he said was soy based, even though it is not). Mista offers 10 signature pizzas and their menu informed us that most of their ingredients are organic, which I support. After perusing the menu and conferring with each other, Nick and I ordered a large (12-14 inch) “Florentine” which was topped with sauce, cheese, mushrooms, garlic and spinach.

Mista's Florentine Pizza

If you’ve never been to Mista you should be forewarned that they are home of the “cracker crust pizza” and they’re not kidding around. Their crusts are about as thick as a soda cracker, with moist centers and crispy edges. I, however, am a bread lover and enjoy thick crusts. As a whole, the “Florentine” was a tasty pizza. The ingredients were fresh, nothing was overcooked and the switch from Veganrella to Daiya is something I support wholeheartedly. However, a large pizza was not enough to satisfy both Nick & I and at $14 a pizza we weren’t about to get another one and since Mista doesn’t have anything else vegan on their menu (with the exception of a couple of salads, though most of those contained cheese and/or meat, as well), we opted to go somewhere else to satisfy our appetites.
I have yet to visit Ian’s Pizza in Wrigleyville (which has vegan options) and Delisi’s which offered deep dish vegan pizzas with faux meat & Teese seems to be gone for good, so my only point of comparison is Whole Foods Deli’s vegan pizza which I find to be a better bargain since 1) it has a thicker crust, 2) it’s roughly the same price and 3) they offer both Daiya and Upton’s as toppings and will top pizza with pretty much any faux meat you buy in store, plus you get to pick your own toppings!
But, if you find yourself in Andersonville or East Lakeview and you’re a fan of thin crusts/are looking for a snack, you should check Mista out.

Mista Pizza
2929 N Broadway or 5351 N Clark
773-698-6688/773-506-1500

Life On Mars

I am always wary of being critical of vegan establishments, because there aren’t many of them in Chicago and I’m always happy when a new one pops up. However, we at Second City Vegan feel that food should not be praised just because it’s vegan, it should be praised because it’s good. That being said, Life on Mars has some very tasty offerings, but there are several things they could improve upon. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering they haven’t made it to the one year mark yet.

On Saturday, Nick and I stopped by Life on Mars (LoM from here on out) for lunch. I’ve been there a handful of times since they opened and Nick has been there about twice as many times as I have. When Nick & I first went to LoM back in February it was a small establishment which served take-out only. There was a small bench in the corner and the rest of the floor space was empty save for a counter stacked with flyers and such. The menu was basic, consisting of six hot bar items and a couple of cold case items. Since our first visit they’ve added several cafe tables and the counter of flyers is now empty and has several stools lined up along it. There are three blackboards up on the wall. The first one lists the hot and cold case items which change on a daily basis (the labels in the case are color coded to indicate pricing), the second one lists sandwiches (which are a mere $5.50) and the third lists both hot and cold beverages they offer. They also offer different desserts every day.

Lisa:

I’ve sampled several of LoM’s hot bar dishes and some of them aren’t very impressive, but the ones I’ve liked I’ve enjoyed a lot. Among them are: Tofu Saag, Sweet and Sour Seitan and the Coconut Greens.

Mock Chicken Salad Sandwich
On Saturday, I got the Mock Chicken Salad sandwich. Until then I’d only had hot bar items, but Nick recommended I try I sandwich and when we asked the employee what his recommendations were he suggested we get the Mock Chicken Salad or the Tuna Salad, so I went with the Mock Chicken on a roll. I also got a Blue Sky Orange Cream soda, sweet potato chips ($1.75) and a chocolate chip cookie ($1.50).

Unfortunately, the best parts of my meal were the sweet potato chips and the Blue Sky Orange Cream soda. The sandwich was underwhelming.The Mock Chicken Salad was cubed tofu mixed with celery and mayo, though I couldn’t taste the celery. This was topped with lettuce, tomato and onion, however, all I tasted was mayonnaise and a hint of onion. The lack of variety of flavor made me wish I’d had some of the hot peppers I’d been offered added to the sandwich. The chocolate chip cookie was also disappointing. It was small, slightly greasy and one of the edges was burnt, so I felt cheated for having paid as much as I did (especially since I can get a big, delicious, vegan cookie from ABC cookies at W Grocer for at least ten cents less).

Nick and I asked to eat our meal at the restaurant and it was served on paper plates and unfortunately there was no recycling bin for us to dispose of our pop cans.

I like that the staff at LoM is always very friendly and willing to answer questions. I also think that the addition of seating was a smart move. However, it would be nice if they acquired some small plates to serve sandwiches on as opposed to paper plates in order to be less wasteful. Adding a recycling bin for soda cans and bottles would be nice, too. I also like that LoM will let you sample any of the hot bar items before you decide on what you’d like to purchase, that way you don’t get any unpleasant surprises.

Though, I don’t visit LoM often, I do like that it exists and that it’s so close to where I live. It’s where I stop whenever I don’t feel like cooking and I want something hot, healthy and reasonably priced that’s vegan.

Nick:

I’ve visited Life on Mars three times in the last month, which is essential in order to do a thorough review of LoM as it’s a multi-faceted eatery.

My first visit this autumn involved me popping in during the afternoon. The woman behind the counter was extremely enthusiastic and answered all of my questions. After mulling over my options I elected to forgo the hot bar take-out items and instead got a Mock Chicken Salad Sandwich on a kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, and onion. The sandwich was huge, and with a $5.50 price tag, I was impressed. Unfortunately it was sort of bland. To wash it down I got a Black Cherry Vanilla Shake. I like that they give you the option of soy or rice milk but I was underwhelmed by the shake itself. This was actually my 3rd shake from LoM (the other 2 were Chocolate Shakes) and all of them have been runny and thin. Unfortunately they also lack all of the little details you get at Pick Me Up, Earwax, and the Chicago Diner like syrups, toppings, etc. Overall it was kind of a boring meal even if it was healthy, filling, and inexpensive.

A few nights ago I was biking home from a friend’s place who lives a couple blocks from LoM and I was feeling kind of hungry so I decided to stop by. It was very close to closing time and despite that I got no feeling of being rushed out the door. I was waited on by the owner and he was extremely friendly and in good spirits. He answered all of my questions and allowed me to read ingredients when I asked. I love that sort of accommodating service – and that it was at the end of the night to boot was excellent. I was on my way home so I elected to get a hot bar item as take out. I bought the Seitan with Mushrooms and Peppers. I think this is where you get the most out of LoM. This was an item the really belonged on pasta or rice, so I took it home and put it on rice. For $4.50 I had enough Seitan and Mushrooms for two large plates of pasta and even though it wasn’t the most highly seasoned food, I was at home so I was at liberty to heavily spice with black and red pepper. By the way, I washed this down with a Blue Sky Root Beer that I purchased at LoM and it is some tasty root beer.

I returned to LoM on Friday with the intent of getting the full LoM experience for this review. Once again I was greeted by pleasant courteous staff. I asked the young woman behind the counter what she would get. She recommended the BBQ Rib sandwich on a kaiser roll. I elected to supplement it with the Peanut Stew from the hot bar and another Blue Sky Root Beer. Like the Mock Chicken Sandwich, it was a hefty sandwich for $5.50. The BBQ sauce was flavorful but the ribs themselves were kind of nondescript. It was just an okay sandwich. I followed this up with my Peanut Stew which had a texture more like gravy than stew – like it was thickened with flour. It was more seasoned than some of their other items but I still ended up shaking Nutritional Yeast, Black Pepper, and Salt into it from their condiment station.

Tempeh Tuna Salad

Finally, on Saturday I ordered the Tempeh Tuna Salad sandwich and another Blue Sky Root Beer. The tempeh was slightly better than the mock chicken, since it had a bit more texture to it, but the sandwich was still underwhelming. I enjoyed Lisa’s sweet potato chips, despite their lack of salt and as always the service and my root beer were great.

I love that LoM is an all vegan eatery and that it’s really close to home without being packed into one of the two main areas for vegan food – Wicker Park or Lake View. I like their affordable prices and their unique niche as a take-out place with a revolving menu. I think their greatest weakness is a light hand when it comes to seasoning. I know that some people come from the school of thought that by under-seasoning the individual can then season to taste and you can appeal to a greater number of palates. Personally, I’d rather someone go heavy handed with the spices so that my food is teeming with flavor and run the risk of being alienated by dill or parsley overload. Sometimes less isn’t more, it’s just less.

All of that aside, if you’re heading home and you just want something to put over rice or pasta without going all out, Life on Mars is the place to stop.

To find out what Life On Mars is offering on any given day check out their website (http://www.mars-takeout.com/) or follow them on Twitter.

Life On Mars
2910 W Armitage
773-489-6277
info@mars-takeout.com

Drew’s Eatery

Last night Nick and I went to check out Drew’s Eatery, one of the four restaurants participating in Mercy for AnimalsChicago Vegan Week Campaign. We checked out their menu online before heading over and unlike some of the other restaurants participating, Drew’s has a wide variety of vegan options on their menu and it’s not something they’re just doing for vegan week, it’s something they do year round!

When you’re walking along Montrose you just might miss the small restaurant buried in a row of restaurants and bars across from Welles Park. The signs in the window advertise that they have vegan and vegetarian options, as well as their use of local, organic and sustainable products.

Drew’s menu includes both cheese and ice cream from Chicago Soy Dairy, seitan from Upton’s Naturals and baked goods from Sweet Dreams Bakery. Their sausages are Tofurky brand and their Not Dogs are made by Soy Boy.

Nick & I were impressed by the detailed information in recycling and biodegradation info they had throughout the establishment.

Recycling Center

Drew’s offers items both a la carte and as combos. They also have daily specials posted and all of their vegan items are clearly marked. There were so many vegan options on the menu we had a tough time deciding what we wanted.

Lisa:
I ended up going with Combo #2, which included a hot dog or sandwich, a side and half a bowl of soup. For my combo I chose the Not Dog with the “The Phoney” topping sans cheese, which is basically a chili dog, along with a side of chips and half a bowl of Red Potato and Garlic Soup (the half bowl is the size of a cup). For dessert I got a scoop of Temptation Pumpkin Ice cream (They also had Temptation’s S’Mores, Chocolate and Dreamsicle when we went in)!

Notdog Phoney with Red Potato and Garlic Soup

Nick:
I got the Special of the Day, which was also a combo and consisted of the Not Dog, which I got with the “North Sider” topping (celery salt, relish, onions, pickle, tomato and giardiniera peppers), Chips and Pomegranate Lemonade from the Organic Drink Bar. I also got a half bowl of Red Potato and Garlic soup. For dessert I got a chocolate peanut butter shake.

Northsider Notdog with Red Potato and Garlic Soup


We were served by Drew, himself who made our food as we ordered it. He was very friendly and willing to answer all of our questions about ingredients and even showed us the packaging to the soy milk when Nick asked to see it.

Once we were done paying for our food we were directed to the organic condiment bar for traditional hot dog toppings and we found a small table to sit at and enjoy our food.

Lisa:

Phoney
I started with the organic Red Potato and Garlic soup and it was so delicious I wish I’d ordered a bowl instead of a cup (which is an option with combo #3). The Not Dog “Phoney” was good, but I was a little disappointed that the chili wasn’t spicy. It had good chili ingredients (tomato, beans, corn and onions) it just needed a little bit of kick to it and it would have been perfect. The chips were standard kettle style chips which I enjoy. But by far the best parts of my meal were the soup and the Pumpkin ice cream (they also were offering Pumpkin Pie Shakes!) I felt the pricing was reasonable considering that they use organic ingredients (our meals combined w/o dessert came to $17).
There were two other groups of people in there while we were there, both women with children, and the children seemed to be enjoying themselves in the “Kids Corner” which they can play in. Drew came out several times to check on everyone to see how the food was, etc. and he even held the door open for one of the women as she was leaving with her children. All in all it was a very pleasant dining experience and I look forward to going back!

Nick:

Northsider

It took me a long time to decide what I wanted. There are plenty of vegan options which is awesome, but because they are inserted all over the place in the menu it took a little bit of time to find them all and figure out what I wanted. After darting around and taking it all in I was going to get their Vegan Drew’Talian Sausage sandwich. Looking at the menu I suspected most of their sandwiches used name brand products so I asked if it was Tofurky brand and it was. Eating a whole one of these sausages can give me killer heartburn so I opted for a Northsider Not Dog instead. I got very excited that they used Not Dog brand veggie dogs. I’m originally from Buffalo, NY and Soy Boy, the company that makes Not Dogs, is also based out of Western New York and they are hard to come by in Chicago. A lot of people tend to prefer veggie dogs that try harder to emulate real hot dogs like those made by Yvves or Litelife, but personally, I like Not Dogs better with their unique flavor. I added a half bowl of Red Potato and Garlic soup to my meal and some Pomegranate Lemonade to wash it down.
I went straight for my soup because it looked really good and it was fantastic. I love potatoes and I love garlic so I knew this soup had a good chance of pleasing me and it delivered. The only drawback for me was the value. Lisa insists that the half bowl was a full cup of soup. I insist that it was 3-4 table spoons. For $3.00 it was tiny – especially considering soup is mostly water. I don’t seek out huge portions when trying to get the best value for my food dollar, but I didn’t feel that it was $3.00 worth of soup even if it was incredibly tasty. The Northsider Not Dog was excellent. Yes, its something I can make at home, but I had never had a “Chicago Style” dog and I enjoyed the combination of toppings and the wheat roll that it was on. The Pomegranate Lemonade was the only thing that left me disappointed in terms of taste. We all have different tastes and I felt that as far as lemonade goes, it was extremely watered down. I didn’t even opt for ice thankfully. I had room for dessert, so I got a Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Shake. It was a good shake, but there is stiff competition as far as shakes go in this city with Earwax, Chicago Diner, Pick Me Up, and Life on Mars all offering shakes using Temptation ice cream. I’d rank this shake above Life on Mars but below the rest.
One of the things that really stood out about Drew’s was Drew himself. He came off as genuine and personable. His restaurant is a form of living activism and though he’s not a vegan himself he opened a place of business that is as organic, local/sustainable, and environmentally conscious as possible. He’s open to new ideas and wants feedback. He was quite open about not knowing much about veganism when he opened the place but people kept requesting items and he’s learned on the go. He answered every question I had with enthusiasm and if I asked a question he had never gotten before he was inquisitive so that he could make sure he hadn’t missed an important detail. This combination of factors just draws willing support from people like me and I’ll gladly return just to continue to support a progressive business and watch it evolve.

Drew’s Eatery will be going entirely vegan for the day on Saturday, October 30th in honor of Chicago Vegan Week. Among items featured that day there will be 12 (!!) flavors of Temptation available. He showed us the list and we were excited about Triple Threat Chocolate and Blueberry, so make sure you pay them a visit on Saturday!

Drew’s Eatery
2207 W Montrose
Chicago, IL
773-463-7397
info@DrewsEatery.com

More Vegan Eats in Chicago?!?

Apparently La Fontanella Italian Restaurant (2414 S Oakley Ave, Chicago, IL) is looking to add an all vegan menu to their existing menu and they are hosting a vegan dinner next Wednesday, July 21 at 7pm to gauge interest, so if you want more vegan eats in Chicago/ want to have input on such things RSVP by Sunday, July 18th to the Facebook Event (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=137385559612835) so Dan can give the owners a head count.

Unfortunately I can’t make it to the dinner due to work. If you’re in the same boat you should contact the people at La Fontanella to show them your support!

The Chicago Pizza dilemma.

Chicago. Pizza. Two things that are synonymous. Throw the ‘vegan’ in there and sit back and wait for the tumbleweeds. Not to start any regional dramz but Milwaukee has 2 if not 3 (3!!!!) restaurants with vegan pizza. Is Milwaukee a pizza town? You can still smoke in public places there, Philastines…

Anyways, I digress.

So my inagural post on/for SCV was going to be a review of the fantastic vegan pizza they were whipping up at Delisi’s… a (excuse the euphemism it’s meant as a compliment) dive bar at 5806 North Western Avenue. With the help of the fine people at Chicago Soy Dairy and Uptons Delisi’s was making and baking fantastic vegan pizza. Thin crust, pan, deep dish, whatever.

So a month or two ago I’d talked with one of the owners, had some factoids all lined up but before I could post my glowing review of Delisi’s Vegan Pizza (tm?) they closed.

Why they closed is uncertain. Someone spoke to someone who spoke to someone who said that the previous owners didn’t square some aspect of the transition of ownership with the city. That’s about all anyone knows. Initially, calls to Delisi’s got an answering machine. As the days crawled into weeks and the weeks into nigh a month the phone’s been disconnected and the email address (written from memory so who knows if I even got it right) bounces back.

So, for the sake of vegans, pizza and vegan pizza, if any of you know anything concrete about the fate of Delisi’s drop us here at SCV a line.

Please don’t make me post my review the place in Wrigleyville with the every other Monday vegan pizza… it’s a heartbreaker.

Until we’re belly up at the bar at Delisi’s…

Mickey