29 February 2012

saigon sisters.

saigon sisters is a vietnamese restaurant on w. lake street. my office loves to order food from there for lunch... and i can't complain. i absolutely love it.

saigon sisters offers several vegan options at lunch and at dinner... here's what one of the owners, mary nguyen aregoni, had to say...

for lunch, the vegan dishes are :
  • vegetarian sandwich without the red peppers (they're stir fried with miso butter)
  • tofu spring rolls
  • vegetarian pho
for dinner :
  • quinoa and mushrooms
  • papaya salad
  • coming soon : curry soup with vegetables and rice noodles
since then, i've had the vegetarian pho (several times) and the tofu spring rolls.

and not surprisingly, most recently, i had the vegetarian pho again.

it comes with the broth on the side...
so here's before adding the broth :

and after :
vegetable broth, tofu, rice noodles, carrots, jalapeno & some other fresh herbs.
this soup is delicious. a perfect, light lunch. the flavor is nothing like any other veggie/tofu/asian soup i have ever had. it's incredibly flavorful.

saigon sisters is a seriously vegan friendly joint. they've even got a section of their website/blog dedicated to vegan recipes! take a look here: saigon sisters vietnamese vegan. i'm dying to try out the crepes they've got posted.

a must hit spot if you are in the west loop area and/or are craving some tasty pho.

26 February 2012

paris club.

paris club is another fantastic lettuce entertain you restaurant located in river north. as you might expect based on the name, it's a french restaurant "offering a lighter, casual take on french fare."

they've got several vegan options, so let's take a look at what i had.

roasted eggplant & olives :
i was drawn to this because of my love for olives... 
it was tasty, but not quite salty enough. 

 pomme frites :
i haven't had french fries in soooo long. and these were delish. 
light, crispy and crunchy.

grand provencal vegetable plate :
a completely vegan entree. 
left to right : butter beans + tomatoes, grilled brussel sprouts, carrots + radishes, grilled cabbage, grilled asparagus, chickpea + tomato salad.

the butter beans and tomato salad was really yummy. the brussel sprouts and cabbage were only so so... they were a bit burnt. the carrots and radishes, asparagus and chickpea salad were also quite tasty... the only real issue i had with this dish (besides the cabbage) was that everything was cold. and i prefer my roasted veggies warm. 

dark chocolate dipped cherries :
 sooo sooo sooo amazing for dessert.
i was pretty full from dinner so this was perfect.

in the end, paris club has got great food and lots of vegan options. 
if you're looking for a nice place to eat downtown, it's a fine choice.

22 February 2012

viaggio ristorante & lounge.

chicago is chock full of amazing italian restaurants.

i recently ventured to the west loop to viaggio ristorante & lounge looking for just that: some amazing italian food.

their menu has plenty of vegan (and vegetarian) options. 
hold the cheese (and meat) on some of the salads and stay away from any housemade pastas (they've got egg in them)... and you're good to go.

here's what i had:


broccoli & tomato salad :
broccoli, tomatoes, kalamata olives and fresh garlic
with imported olive oil and a red wine vinaigrette. 
presentation was lacking, as you can see. this is exactly as it came to me! i thought it was tasty... but again, i'm a vegan. i enjoy veggies. it was extremely basic, but good nonetheless.

 rigatoni in a garlic & olive oil sauce with sauteed rapini :
again, very basic. literally just rigatoni in olive oil with some garlic tossed in. i thought the rapini was a bit overcooked, but it's one of my favorite veggies and i don't eat it very often. so again, i enjoyed it. i also added a bit of salt and covered it with crushed red pepper (i really do like my spice!), which added to my liking.

is viaggio the best italian food i've ever had? ... no.
is it a good place for vegans looking for some simple italian? ... yes.

19 February 2012

rise sushi & sake lounge.


rise sushi & sake lounge is one half of a restaurant duo... their sister spot being called shine asian cuisine & sushi bar. (get it? rise & shine?)

i've been to both rise and shine... but since rise is about a 3 second walk from our house, it's definitely our sushi joint of choice. and it's a great one for any veggie rolls and the usual japanese salads.

on this most recent visit (and most, to be honest), i went very simple.

an avocado roll with brown rice:
their avocado is always fresh. so this is always a treat.
however, i also love their zen roll : spinach, carrot, cucumber, avocado and asparagus.

another favorite of mine from rise is the gomae:
 
chilled spinach in a sesame & soy vinaigrette.
spinach is one of my favorite vegetables, so i absolutely love gomae.
i always add a little sriracha to spice it up a bit. (obviously.)

since we do visit rise so frequently... i've tried a few other delicious vegan items on the menu:
 - seaweed salad : fresh seaweed with a sweet vinegar dressing.
 - mixed green salad : greens and baby tomatoes with ginger dressing.
 - pad thai with tofu (no egg!) : thai rice noodles with tofu and mixed veggies.
 - asparagus roll (brown rice) : self explanatory.

like any sushi place, rise has got several vegan roll options, salads and a few big plates.
just be sure to stay away from the miso soup and agedashi tofu. (both made with fish broth! bummer.)

15 February 2012

café ba ba reeba.

café ba ba reeba is a spanish tapas restaurant... it's a classic lettuce entertain you spot that has been around for ages...

it also happens to be my absolute all time favorite restaurant in all of chicago... mostly because it brings back some fond memories of my time abroad in madrid. ask josh (or any of my friends, really)... whenever i get to pick where we go to dinner, it's always café ba ba reeba.

josh and i went to café ba ba reeba a couple weeks ago... i had two of my favorite tapas and also tried something new... here's what i had :

the special ... white mango sangria.
delish. sangria is a must have at café ba ba reeba.
lots of flavor options... and always tasty.

house marinated spanish olives. 
my favorite favorite favorite. i love olives in general... but these are just so delish.
they are marinated with orange peel and rosemary. incredible. i ate the entire bowl myself.

fried green peppers & coarse salt. 
 another favorite of mine. i get these every time i come here. they are just the right about of that fresh spiciness that i love... the one red pepper is a bit hotter, so beware. but again, salty + spicy = mmm.

rainbow chard stuffed with spinach, raisins & nuts.
this was the new dish i tried. it reminded me of a spanish version of greek dolmas. it was also quite tasty. i tried to get a pic of the inside, but it just got all mushy. the sweetness of the raisins was a perfect contrast to the salty rice, garlic (i think) and pine nuts. i would definitely try these again.

for my third tapas dish, i usually get the mixed greens, beets, orange & goat cheese salad with no goat cheese. i think it's more of a summer dish and i will probably continue to get it then. the rainbow chard is a bit heavier, so perfect for winter. 

last, but not least :
mango sorbet.
 i think there was a mango thing going on, since my special sangria was also mango...
but that was fine with me. this little shot glass was packed with flavor. and the perfect light dessert to end a delicious meal.


before we went this time, i emailed the restaurant to find out what items they offered are or can be made vegan. here's what i heard from head chef tim cottini :

 - vegetarian paella.
 - chickpea salad. 
 - wood oven roasted sweet potatoes.
 - hummus and pita.
 - winter vegetable soup with garbanzo and judion beans.


overall, café ba ba reeba is awesome, accommodating and super tasty. 
they never disappoint. a+!

12 February 2012

bloomington, indiana : yogi's grill & bar.

one of our most frequently visited bars to watch sports in bloomington was/is yogi's grill & bar. and we decided to continue the tradition for a recent indiana university hoosier basketball game. (we beat penn state, if you were curious.)

on game days, yogi's only offers a smaller menu. no vegan options there.
but fortunately for us, we had a fantastic server who was incredibly accommodating and helpful in finding something delicious for me to eat. not to mention : he had an awesome hat... i truly wish i had a photo. 

after determining that the cooking oil does not only cook veggies, we were able to rule out french fries and tortilla chips (home made!)... then we moved on to determine there were eggs in the black bean burger. no issue there, since i had one the previous night at nick's.

so here's what we came up with...

a traditional home made hummus:
the pita bread also had milk in it, so i got fresh veggies. for a sports bar, i've got to say this was quite good. and so fresh tasting. a perfect appetizer.

next, i had a veggie wrap with kettle chips:
this wrap was kind of funny... it literally had everything in it imaginable... basically, any vegan items yogi's had, they tossed in here : hummus, guacamole, black bean salsa, cucumber, lettuce, tomato and red onion (maybe more!) in a wheat tortilla. but with all those ingredients, it was actually really good! you'd think guacamole and hummus might not work... but it did! i was quite pleasantly surprised. 

yogi's is a classic iu/bloomington bar/grill. and i am so glad that next time i go back, i'll be able to actually enjoy it with my non-veggie-loving friends.

08 February 2012

bloomington, indiana : nick's english hut.

this might be my saddest food post yet. not because what i ate wasn't good... but because the photo of it is so pathetic.

nick's english hut is a classic bloomington bar most well known for their game...

sink the biz :
like many alcohol related games, this one involves several individuals drinking copious amounts of beer. 

in terms of food though, i had a black bean burger :
nick's own house blend of black beans, vegetables and grains with a side of ruffle chips... you know, to keep it healthy.
isn't this the saddest looking plate of food you've seen in a while?
now the black bean burger was actually quite tasty... i took away then bun since i didn't want it, but mainly because it looked like it might have an egg wash on top. the lack of bun might be affecting the sadness of this plate.

overall, quite tasty. 
i learned a valuable lesson that night ... nick's english hut in bloomington, indiana : good for beer & black bean burgers!

05 February 2012

bloomington, indiana : the village deli.

after four years living in bloomington, indiana, you'd think i'd have several breakfast places on my "must eat" list for when we are down there visiting... but no. all that time proved was that there is only one place i love : the village deli.

okay, to be honest -- a bit more about me before going on...
i hate breakfast food and i always have. and since becoming vegan, i've hated it even more.

that being said, there is one thing i have recently discovered that i do loooove for breakfast (or any meal, really)...


avocado on dry rye toast with a bit of salt :
an easy task for any breakfast place. and also seriously yum.
the village deli did it well. their rye bread had particularly large caraway seeds. mmm!

on this morning, i also decided to try their home made granola with soy milk : 
sunflower seeds, rolled oats, currants, sesame seeds, cinnamon and a bit of honey. 
crunchy and delicious... and i loved the extra sweetness the soy milk provided. 

*note : i think i've mentioned it before, but i'm not a non-honey eating vegan, simply because i don't feel i come in contact with it enough to cut it out of my diet completely.

over our recent weekend in bloomington, i'd definitely say that my meal at the village deli was my favorite. a perfect place for breakfast.

04 February 2012

upcoming posts : bloomington, indiana.

as i mentioned a while back, josh and i recently ventured down to our alma mater, indiana university, in bloomington, indiana (in a massive snow storm, no less)... for a weekend of unhealthy food, copious amounts of beer and general tomfoolery.

here's a photo of us at a brewery tour :
 josh, pete, caylan & me... my three best boys.
this was taken at bloomington's own upland brewing co., where we sampled several amazing beers. unfortunately, we did not eat here. i wish we had... their menu looks incredible!

my next three posts will feature three restaurants/bars we ate at during this trip:

so get ready, the chi city vegan goes to bloomington, indiana!

01 February 2012

soupbox.

as i am sure you've guessed, josh and i frequently order delivery... one of my favorite places to order from is soupbox.

they've got a variety of soups that change daily... and you get a big chunk of either sourdough or multigrain bread with your soup. mmm!

soupbox is really great about their ingredients... everyday without fail there is at least one vegan soup available... they also differentiate between vegetarian and gluten-free, which i think is awesome. 

**you can also get grilled cheese and cookies there, but those obviously aren't vegan.

the other day, i ate in the restaurant for the first time... and i went with an old classic:

hearty fresh vegetable with multigrain bread.

a close up :

this particular soup is pretty basic... but so so so fresh tasting. it's definitely one of my favorites from there. i almost brought some vegan butter in a baggie... but i thought it might get some looks, so i refrained.

my actual favorite soup is the indian masala tomato lentil... give me that with a chunk of sour dough and vegan butter... mmm! the best winter day meal! it's super delish... and very healthy! plus and plus!

i also like the cuban black bean, which they also had at this visit. but it's not that pretty to photograph, so i skipped it. it's pretty basic, but nice and filling if you are extra hungry!

soupbox gets an a+ ... can't wait for another "souper" cold day (like what i did there?) to order some soup!