29 April 2012

macello ristorante & pizzeria.

working in the west loop has allowed me to try out several of the amazing restaurants in the area. and as they continue to pop up, i look forward to trying them all out.

recently, my office and our significant others went out to dinner at macello ristorante & pizzeria, an italian restaurant & wood-fired pizza place (for those of you not fluent in italian) on w. lake st. ... self described via their twitter as "cuisine of the puglia region of italy."

i've been to macello twice before ... once for another work dinner, the other time for the reopening event after a fire forced them to close for a while.

in the past, i've had variations of the salads & sauteed veggies. but this trip, i decided to go for the pizza...

pizza barese :
artichoke & black olive (no mozzarella!) ... add spinach. 
super thin crust + tomato sauce + kalamata olives + fresh spinach + marinated artichokes = uh-mazing. after eating so much lou malnati's, i was craving some thin crust. and this definitely did the trick.
i pretty much ate the entire pizza ... and thus, the integrity of pizza fridays was upheld.
 
macello a little gem tucked away in a less traveled (for food anyway) part of the west loop. their food is always prepared to perfection and, in my opinion, represents some pretty great & authentic italian.

25 April 2012

tapas gitana.

i'd say mediterranean food & spanish tapas are my two favorite types of food. so when there was a groupon for tapas gitana in boystown, i jumped at the opportunity.

tapas gitana is quite different from café ba ba reeba. while they do have clearly marked vegetarian and gluten free items, they don't have all that much vegan stuff. even their gazpacho has mayo in it ... you can't get more spanish than that, can you? they love putting mayo in everything. blech.

anywho ... for this trip, i strayed from my normal tapas tastings. here's what i had :

aceitunas aliñadas :

marinated spanish olives with onions, garlic and herbs.
ok, so i didn't completely skip out on my faves. these olives were yum. i mean, when you love olives as much as i do, you can't really go wrong. and the marinated onions were awesome on the pan gratis. plus plus plus. 

my entree ... here's where the shocker will come in ...
paella vegetariana :
vegetarian paella made with bell peppers, onions, & assorted seasonal vegetables, baked in saffron broth.
i haven't had paella in ages and this was awe-some. super flavorful, a great mix of veggies (artichokes & asparagus? yes, please) and a very large portion for the price. it's the most authentic paella i've had outside of the motherland and i would definitely order it again ... in fact, i would go so far as to say that tapas gitana is my new go-to spot for paella. woah.

my only complaint is that it took longer than the estimated 35-45 minutes for preparation ... and we were there are 5pm on a sunday. oh well. 

so while tapas gitana might not be the best place for vegans in the city, it's still a great place to dine ... especially if you are craving some tasty & traditional spanish paella.

22 April 2012

andies restaurant.

andersonville is super cute. like really, incredibly, super cute. i have never really spent much time up there. but recently, josh and i ventured up to andies restaurant, a mediterranean place up on clark street.

andies is awesome. let's count the reasons why :
 1. the pita bread is amazing. i actually can't explain it. it is so good
 2. they have a special meatless monday menu, in addition to several clearly marked vegan items that are there all the time. this menu also has some gluten free stuff ... i love dietary awareness.
 3. the baba ganoush is vegan & somehow insanely super scrumptious = a+. 

 here's what was for dinner :

hummus, baba ganoush & harresa + pita bread :

if you've taken a glance through my blog before, you probably don't need a description of hummus or baba ganoush, but here they are ... cooked chick pea dip with tahini and lightly smoked eggplant dip with tahini, respectively. this was my first taste of harresa, a mildly spicy roasted pepper dip. all three = yum! the baba ganoush was definitely the best i have had in a really long time. and again, the pita is out of this world. they told me they toss it on the griddle with olive oil ... you can see how that'd make it uh-mazing. 

dolmate :

grape leaves stuffed with vegetables & rice. (order with no sauce!)
these were really, really great. they were served a bit warm, which i really liked (since i've normally had them cold). the tomato sauce it came with (i'm guessing as a substitute for the yogurt sauce) was really awesome, too.  

house greek salad (no feta cheese) :

fresh iceberg and romaine, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, pepperoncini, olives, greek dressing.
 
a pretty basic greek salad. no complaints. 

vegan & gluten-free lentil soup :
i happen to love lentil soup. and this was a great version of it. really flavorful and the perfect little portion size. delish.

andies restaurant is really great. so so so many vegan options. i'm definitely heading back. perhaps tomorrow for meatless monday. yum.

18 April 2012

carnivale.

carnivale is a fun restaurant in the west loop that serves "nuevo latino cuisine."

according to their website : "featuring energetic colors, glamour, photography, and wild design, carnivale engages all of the senses." this much is true. take a walk into their main dining room and you will understand this for yourself immediately.

i've been to carnivale three times (once as a vegetarian, twice as a vegan) - and surprisingly, all three times were for birthday celebrations. ¡qué divertido!

anywho ... this means that carnivale is definitely a friend of the vegans.

here's what i had :

guacamole “kleiner style” :


chunky avocados, cilantro, chiles, onion, garlic, lime, chips.
not sure what the "kleiner style" is because it tasted like basic guacamole to me. delish. also ... i asked our server how the chips were prepared. vegetable oil? yes. are other non-vegan items fried in the same oil? well, they are prepared first thing in the morning before anything, but she was unsure whether or not other things were also fried in there. hmm, ask? oh well. 

vegetariana : 
 genesis growers seasonal vegetables, wheat berries, roasted squash, aji panca.
i ordered this without the maitake mushrooms, brunkow cheese and butter it is normally prepared with. it was good, but not amazing. the sauce tasted a bit tomato paste-y. but i had never had wheat berries before, so that was fun.

but here's the exciting part... dessert.

cotton candy (!!!) :
this was sooo much fun. we all decided it was watermelon flavored. so awesome.
  
ok, so the dessert really made this meal for me. i mean, who doesn't love to be transported back to their youth via some high end cotton candy? i sure do. in terms of "nuevo latino cuisine," carnivale is a definitely a fun & exciting place to go.  

15 April 2012

hub 51.


hub 51 is another awesome / delicious lettuce entertain you restaurant. this one is located downtown. as per their website, the goal in developing the menu was to "create food we [owners : the melman brothers] like to eat ... " in reality, this means tacos, burgers, huge salads, sushi rolls, nachos ... a grand idea.

our server (and close friend of the chi city vegan) had done a little pre-research on which items were vegan. and it turns out, quite a few are and a tasty meal was had.

here's what we ate:

guacamole :

henry farms avocados, fresh tortilla chips & roasted tomato salsa.
can't go wrong, really. the guacamole was nicely whipped and the roasted tomato salsa? mmm.

three green bites :
edamame, blistered padrone peppers & tempura green beans. 
if you remember my post on café ba ba reeba, you'll recall my obsession with their fried peppers. well, hub 51's got the same amazing peppers. (all the way in the back there.) awesome! the tempura green beans & edamame were also quite delish.

garden roll :
beets, avocado & cucumber. 
i didn't actually order this sushi, but two of my friends did. they even went so far as to say it's their favorite vegetable sushi roll. i'm definitely going to try this next time.

"green" vegetarian tacos :
simply grilled peppers, asparagus & zucchini with lettuce cup shells, tomato slices, guacamole, pico de gallo, roasted tomato salsa & black beans. (also comes with rice and actual tortillas, but i wasn't in the mood.)
not much to say about this entree besides yum. super fresh ... aka the perfect dinner.

if you're looking for a place to go for a fun night out with friends, this is definitely the spot to try.
hub 51 is great : great atmosphere, great drinks (try the hub punch part deux) & great food. 

14 April 2012

vegan shoes.

let's break from food and move on to fashion for a bit. (like a supermodel, amirite?)

i started eating vegan almost two and  a half years ago ... and starting in 2012, i decided to try to start living a little more vegan ... basically, i decided to start to try to stop buying leather.

*note : i haven't stopped wearing the leather i already have ... 
not ready to give away my louis vuitton or perfectly broken in boots just yet.

anyway, being a shopping addict, i thought this would post a significant problem for me and my shoe collection ... meaning it would stop growing at it's constant rate. however, this was not the case. plenty of websites have vegan shoes, whether or not they market them that way.

my favorite source at the moment is aldo shoes ... they clearly note their materials on the website. and during a recent trip to the store, one of the girls taught me how to read the coding for shoe materials.

this nifty website (where all the images and information comes from) explains it as well, but here's the gist ... the bottom of shoes have a little sticker with a bunch of symbols on them. here's what they mean :

on the left side of the sticker ...

 this represents the outside of the shoe.







this represents the inner lining of the shoe.






this represents the outside, bottom of the shoe.







 on the right side of the sticker ...

 
this symbol indicates that the shoe contains leather. vegans : stay away!



this symbol indicates that the shoe contains coated leather. vegans : stay away (again)!



this symbol indicates that the shoe contains fabric or textiles. vegans : rejoice!



this symbol indicates that the shoe contains other man-made (vegan!) materials (like rubber). vegans : rejoice (again)!

so, vegans & non-vegans alike ... hope you've learned something. otherwise, continue about your day. 

11 April 2012

schubas tavern & harmony grill.

i generally eat tofu in some sort of asian cuisine. so when i can get it in something else, i jump at the chance.

that's where schubas tavern & harmony grill comes in. located just a few blocks from our apartment in lakeview, schubas' harmony grill is a great spot for food, drinking and music. they focus on "regional american cuisine," which seems to me to have a southern flair of sorts. their specialty is mac & cheese. not vegan, but good for the non-vegs to know about. my husband also claims that they've got the best buffalo chicken sandwich in the city.

anywho, we've gone to schubas several times for brunch on the weekend (bloody mary + mimosa specials? yes, please!) ... but we recently discovered how amazing their dinner menu is. lots of vegan options, so obviously i love it.

here's what i had on the most recent visit :

vegan tomato soup special :
  a basic tomato soup. but super fresh, super light & super yum. 
pretty much my favorite food qualities.

vegan tofu chili :
 i know, i know. two soup type dishes? this was not normal, but i really wanted to try to vegan tomato special, so i went for it. i looove this vegan chili. it comes with tortilla chips, which i think is pleasantly unusual and fun.

tofu tacos :
 two tacos with red onion, cilantro, tomato, avocado & tofu.
my absolute favorite. the tofu has a bit of a smoky grill taste. mmm.
these tacos are (again) super fresh, super light & super yum.

schubas' harmony grill definitely gets an a++ in my book.
plenty o' vegan options & mucho deliciousness.

oh - another note. they wanted our table for a big party coming in ... so the owner offered us a free round to move tables. um, awesome? 

08 April 2012

belly shack.

a couple of guys in my office are pretty in love with belly shack ... self described as a "neighborhood eatery," located on western ave. in wicker park / bucktown.

chef bill kim is the owner of the very well known restaurant : urban belly. later, he opened belly shack, which is a union of him and his wife's backgrounds. let's just say we've all benefited greatly from this marriage. post-lunch discussions posited that it's asian & latin american fusion ... and further investigation into the matter found that it's korean & puerto rican fusion specifically.

belly shack has a very small menu. but they've got a surprising amount of vegan options. all of which are clearly marked on their menu. score one for belly shack!

my work buddies have brought the tostones back to the office for me before ... and those were delish. crispy, salty + a super garlic-y oil sauce? um, perfection. so i was pretty pumped to try eating at the restaurant.

anyway, we recently ventured out there. and all their talk about how awesome it is was definitely true. it was great. here's what we had ...

shared the special chilled edamame :
i don't remember what the sauce was called ... but it was both sweet & salty. 
and the crispy onions bits (i think?) on top added a perfect bit of crunch.

shared the togarashi spiced fries :
 the curry mayo is obviously not vegan. but the fries are. and they are gooood.
togarashi is a japanese chili pepper. the spicy + the salty + the fried-ness? obviously heaven for me.

and for my entree ... tofu boriqua :
marinated tofu with hoisin bbq sauce & brown rice, served on a crispy plantain. 
the pic is a bit unclear (apologies!), but there were also mushrooms on this strange little sandwich. i quickly removed those ... and then snarfed the rest of the dish. the tostones were perfectly crispy. i loved how they played the roll (ha, get it?) of the bread. the tofu was delish. and the dipping sauce was super flavorful. basically, the ideal lunch. besides the fact that i wanted to take a cat nap afterward. 

belly shack = uh-mazing.
can't wait to visit again.
and take a separate trip to urban belly. yum.

04 April 2012

wishbone.

"southern reconstruction cooking." never heard of it? well, familiarize yourself. because it's awesome.

wishbone (two locations : lakeview & west loop) offers this southern reconstruction cooking. their website describes it as: "the style of contemporary american cuisine is steeped in the home-cooked table fare of north carolina, mixed with a dash of creole spice."

since one location is walking distance from my house and the other is walking distance from my office, i've been to both ... for lunch & breakfast.

my most recent trip was for brunch.

one of my favorite things about wishbone is that they offer fresh, house made juices. and a fresh, house made juice is just about my favorite thing in the morning (especially after a night of drinking). so ... um, yum?

i opted for a fresh squeezed beet + carrot + apple juice : 
can you tell there is beets in this? ha. super fresh. super delicious.  enough said. 

for my meal... 

black bean cakes :
spicy vegan patties of black beans served with mango salsa, spinach, home fries & dry rye toast. i also got a side of avocado for good measure. 
(aka to smear on my rye. mmm.)
this brunch was awesome. lots of variety in one meal, which i like. the black bean cakes are delish. maybe a smidge dry. but that's what the mango salsa is for, right? it was a bit sweet for me, but still tasty. the spinach was amazing. olive oil + lemon ... yum. the pots were great also. but potatoes and black bean cakes in one meal is a bit heavy. and obvi you can't go wrong with rye bread and avocado.

i've never been to wishbone for dinner, so i can't speak to what they've got for vegans. but brunch, you're all set. a great place to get some delish breakfast-ish food.

01 April 2012

seadog sushi bar.

two key points about seadog sushi bar :

1. located in noble square ... a fun adventure as it's a bit off the normal path for us.
2. byob.

we've been to seadog once before this most recent visit... i had the usual for me at a sushi joint : edamame, gomae, seaweed salad & an avocado roll.

here are the pics :

edamame :
 not sure why i always take photos of this since it literally looks the same at every sushi joint  ... but here it is anyway. fresh & salty. yum.

gomae :
 boiled spinach with sesame dressing.
not going to lie, this is the most unappetizing-looking serving of gomae i've ever had. but it actually was tasty. the sesame "dressing" was great ... a cold peanut butter consistency. my kind of "dressing."

seaweed salad :
 marinated seaweed over cucumber with vinaigrette.
not sure if i've mentioned it before, but i always order seaweed salad and then half way through i decide i actually didn't want it. however, that didn't happen with this one ... it was a smaller portion, which was perfect for me. i added some soy sauce and fresh wasabi. delish. 

avocado roll :
 this was by far the best avocado roll i have ever had. here's why : the avocado was super fresh ... there was hardly any rice (which was appreciated since they don't have brown rice, wah.) ... this made the ratio of perfectly ripe avocado to white rice just right. awesome. 

the fresh wasabi i added to my seaweed salad and avocado roll was amazing. i actually never knew there was something called fresh wasabi. if you've never had it, try it. it's waaaay more flavorful, a more powerful horseradish taste. love it. 

seadog has really awesome sushi & other typical japanese fare ... and the non-vegs at the table couldn't get over how fresh all the fish was. plus! if you're in the mood for great, light sushi, seadog is the place to go.