28 November 2012

haymarket pub & brewery.

haymarket pub & brewery in the west loop (halsted & randolph) is a lunch & post-work favorite for my office ... so when we were looking for a quick & easy dinner spot ... off we went.

here's what their website has to say ... their "inspiration for local & fresh ingredients equates to innovative twists on classic pub fare ... higher quality ingredients, yet an affordable menu  ... [with] everything from scratch … even the pickle." slight paraprhasing, but you get the gist. sounds awesome, right? right.

here's what i had ... 

vegan burger :
black bean, oat & vegetable patty w/ tomato, lettuce, onion & pickles (multigrain bun).
i went for no bun ... but i did taste it, and it was quite good. sweet potater tots? great. vegan burger? great. homemade pickle? great. overall, really very tasty! 

my only ish ... have you ever seen a more meat-like looking vegan burger? me neither. one of the ingredients to this burg is beets ... which made the inside look very much like raw, red hamburger meat. blech. so honestly, that was a little distracting for me. luckily, the taste was spot on ... phew. 

haymarket has a few other items on their menu that are vegan (and clearly marked as so! win!) ... so it's definitely a great place to try. i'm going to get the vegan chili next time ... mmm.

25 November 2012

nori.

fall/winter of sushi post #2 ... 

recently, i had dinner plans with my friend (hi, ilana!) ... and we settled on sushi. but where to go? nori.

nori has not one, not two, but three locations ... bucktown/wicker park, edgewater/rogers park/loyola campus & lakeview, were my friend & i dined. 

per their website ... "nori has become a favorite restaurant thanks to their amazing signature maki, delicious signature sauces and extensive dine in, take out, delivery & catering menus." well, alrighty. let's give it a try.

here's what i had ... 

japanese veggie salad :
daikon, kampyo, oshinko, kaiware, yamakobo & avocado. 
this was the most bizarre salad i have ever eaten ... legit japanese veggies. most were tasty, except for those carrots, which are maybe the yamakobo. they were frightening.

spinach maki :
subtitute soy paper, add jalapeno.
basic & tasty ... the soy paper was option is nice ... and the added jalapeno again added a delicious crunch.

vegetable combo maki :
avocado, cucumber, sweet gourd & asparagus.
a little rice heavy, which made it hard to taste the actual veggies. but a solid vegan option ... again, the soy paper is great!


for vegans, nori is just a basic basic basic sushi place ... but they are quick & tasty. so if you're in a hurry and happen to be near diversey & sheffield, it's worth a shot.

21 November 2012

shokran.

my brother-in-law studied/worked abroad in brussels, belgium. while there, he discovered that brussels has a rather sizable moroccan population ... and also learned to love moroccan food. so when he suggested we try finding a moroccan place in chicago, we jumped at the opportunity. 

one rainy sunday night, off we went ... and we landed at shokran, a restaurant in old irving park serving "authentic moroccan cuisine." perfect.

here's what i had ... 
 
hummus :
chickpea puree with tahini, lemon & olive oil.
your standard hummus. fresh & tasty.

pita bread :

obvious carb-y deliciousness.  

harissa pepper sauce :
Y.U.M. spicy, but not too spicy. super flavorful. amazing. 
hummus + harissa + pita = best. appetizer. 

moroccan spiced olives :
k, we all know i love a good spiced olive. these were no exception. soooo good. also, complimentary. woohoo!

veggie sampler :
combination plate of house appetizers... 
carrots :  julienne carrots marinated in parsley, olive oil, moroccan spices & preserved lemon ... soooo good. best part of this appetizer.
bakola :  salad of cooked spinach, red olives, garlic, moroccan spices & preserved lemon ... also quite tasty. i mixed it with the harissa pepper sauce & put it on pita bread. genius.
zaalouk : roasted eggplant cooked with fresh tomatoes, virgin olive oil, cilantro, garlic & spices ... quite good, but i couldn't really differentiate this from the ...
taktouka : roasted green peppers and tomatoes flavored with virgin olive oil & special moroccan spices ... but still super yum.


vegetable tagine :
mix of carrots, red potatoes, artichoke hearts, peas & tomatoes, slow cooked in olive oil & moroccan spices. 
mmm. see the steaminess? since this was my first experience with moroccan food, this was my first experience with tagine. and let's just say, it was a good one. veggies cooked to perfection, light & delectable (as stated on the menu)? can't go wrong. 

also vegan, per the restaurant :
- harira soup.
- cucumber salad.
- beet salad.
- spicy potatoes.  
 
have you ever had moroccan food? no? k, well get to shokran. now. vegans & non-vegans will certainly enjoy. can't be missed.

18 November 2012

coast sushi bar.

remember how we just finished the summer of italian food? now entering the fall/winter of sushi ... post #1. 

basically since we moved into the city, josh & i have been hearing great things about coast sushi bar, a tasty little joint on damen ave. in wicker park.

here's what coast has to say for themselves, per their website : "through years of experience, they have mastered the pairing of simple but complex flavors to create some of the most tasteful and innovative new-japanese cuisine. using only the freshest ingredients & top quality fish from around the world, coast offers something for everyone." even vegans? snap! 

here's what i had ...

exotic tempura :
taro, lotus root, sweet corn, shiso leaf, squash, asparagus.
obviously confirmed before indulging that the batter has no egg. win! so delish. when you're craving something delicious & fried & amazing, this exotic tempura will do the trick. i used soy sauce instead of the sweet sauce it came with. salty + fried is more my kind of thing. 

avocado maki :
avocado & asparagus, add fresh jalapeno. 
YUM. the jalapeno i added gave this just the right amount of crunch. super fresh & green. love me some green.

kampyo maki :
marinated sweet gourd.  
looks : unappealing. tastes : amazing. 
my first experience with kampyo ... and a very good one! i really liked it. the sweetness of the gourd + the salty of the soy sauce ... mmm.


coast sushi bar positives ...
 + light on the sushi rice ( = more flavor of the veggies!).
 + byob!
 + super cozy.
 +++ many vegan options! 

14 November 2012

star of siam.

thai food is a definite favorite for me & josh ... as it is for many of the team members at my office. when at home or at work, one of our go-to restaurants is star of siam, located just off michigan avenue & serving "a standard thai menu in an urban warehouse setting." sweet

their website even notes : "for our vegetarian customers, most items can be cooked without meat." great news! however ... before i became vegan, star of siam used to be my absolute favorite thai place for tofu red curry. then i found out they can't and/or won't make their red curry without fish sauce. wah. that's the best dish! 


that's okay. i've found some other alternatives that are just as good. which is exactly what i did on our most recent carry out order. 


here's what i had ... 



pra ram loung song (rama tofu) :
tofu on crisp, steamed broccoli.
i added some of the spicy pepper sauce on top of my rama tofu & brown rice. this is just a simple & seemingly healthy & light dish. steamed broccoli & stir fried tofu on brown rice? not sure you can get much healthier.  enter ...

peanut sauce on the side :
yes, this is just as it appears to be : melty peanut butter with oil and some additional spicy thai flavorings. amazing. i have to exhibit self control and not just eat it with a spoon or on some white, refined, delicious, unhealthy rice. but i manage. steamed broccoli can't get much better than being smothered in this scrumptious mess. 

all in all, star of siam has some great thai food -- and they are accommodating to dietary needs. i've also had the stir-fried string beans with tofu (and several other modifications), and it always turns out great. 

in the downtown/michigan avenue area looking for some tasty & authentic thai food? try star of siam. you won't be disappointed. 

11 November 2012

jupiter outpost.

i think i've mentioned before that we order lunch at my office every.day. a blessing and a curse -- yes, it is absolutely amazing that we get lunch each day. maybe the best perk ever. buuut, we generally have trouble deciding where to order from. and often times, it ends up being a deli or burger joint other random place that doesn't have good vegan options.

luckily, jupiter outpost is located just down the street from my office ... jupiter is mainly a coffee shop, but they also have an awesome lunch menu.

they have different soups & chilis throughout the week ... and their team knows what vegan means, so it's easy to find out if the soups are good. 

so this week, i walked over to jupiter for a lunch save. here's what i had ...


hummus & veggie panini :
hummus, roasted red pepper & eggplant, add tofu. no provolone or pesto. 
a delish sandwich. even some non-vegs in my offices have had this and love it. it's just really really great. add some hot giardiniera and you are good.to.go. you also get a little mini side with your sandwich, which happened to be vegan on this past lovely thursday. so a double win for me!

spinach & chickpea soup :
also delish. light (despite the plethora of chickpeas) and perfect for lunch.

jupiter outpost is a great spot for a tasty vegan lunch any day of the week. if you happen to the in the west loop & are looking for a quick coffee or easy panini, jupiter is a fabulous option.

08 November 2012

abou andre.

mediterranean food is a lunch favorite at my office ... however, there is almost always a heated debate (argument, really) about where to order from.

so this week, we decided to try somewhere new ... enter abou andre, "a mediterranean bistro that is rich in flavor & history with recipes dating back generations to the mountains of lebanon." woah, sounds awesome, right?

here's what i had ... 

falafel plate :
 falafel served with hummus, homemade tahini sauce & lebanese pita bread.
you can also get baba ghannouj, but i didn't ask if that was vegan, so i can't report on that. but the falafel & hummus were uh-mazing. light & crispy falafel, chunky & flavorful hummus ... mediterranean perfection.  

tabouleh salad :
   parsley, tomatoes, onions, mint & bulgar wheat seasoned with homemade lemon sauce. 
 also, super tasty. i did each bite with a little falafel + a little hummus + a little tabouleh. one word (sound?) : mmm.mmm.  

here's the interesting/fun/awesome part ... since we ordered delivery, i didn't know the exact location of abou andre. a quick visit to their website and you can see ... one location on 6o e. jackson in the loop ... the other five? actually in lebanon. if the lebanese like it, it must be good. check it out. 

05 November 2012

cantina laredo.

i've been wanting to try cantina laredo for some time now ... it's a restaurant located downtown on state street, serving "authentic mexican dishes in a sophisticated atmosphere." you can see why i'd be interested.  

so when it was birthday celebration time for me and my brother-in-law, two lovers of of delicious mexican food, i thought that cantina laredo would be the perfect place. 

here we are, birthday peeps!
 aaron & me.

anyway, here's what i had ...

superfruit mojito :
 bacardi dragonberry, mint, agave nectar, blackberries, blueberries & lime.
 wow, so great. i could drink these all night ... bad idea.

chips & salsa :
 left : warm salsa. right : roasted smoky salsa.
also, super tasty. the warm salsa was amazing ... and the chips were nice & light. yum. 

chips & guacamole :
made fresh at the table.
yum! perfectly ripened avocado & super fresh additional ingredients. the consensus at the table was that it could use a bit more cilantro, but i was quite pleased with the flavor. i ate several scoops. mmm.

enchilada de avocado :
avocado and artichoke enchilada topped with tomatillo sauce on bed of spinach.
normally, vegetarian & gluten-free, prepared vegan with no cheese.
so so so so so good. all the veggies were crisp, fresh & flavorful. again, the avocado was perfectly ripe. really, the perfect vegan meal for me.

non-vegan birthday dessert :
thought i'd share anyway. looked tasty!

in conclusion ... i really liked cantina laredo. like, a lot. their menu only has a couple options for vegans, but that is okay, because the ones they do have are awesome. also, their menu items are clearly marked as vegetarian and/or gluten-free. and i definitely appreciate places that are aware of various dietary restrictions. 

so if you're looking for "authentic mexican dishes in a sophisticated atmosphere," cantina laredo is a great place to try.