27 February 2013

bloomington, indiana : the owlery.

the chicago diner (post coming soon!) is a chicago vegan/vegetarian staple. i absolutely love it there. it's sad that not everyone (in the world) has access to this fantastic restaurant. 

however! bloomington, indiana residents now have the owlery, a new (-ish) vegan/vegetarian place located right near the downtown square.

per their website, "the owlery offers high quality, vegetarian food at affordable prices. at the owlery, we challenge ourselves to find responsible sources for our ingredients and ethical ways of doing business." 

you may notice that it does not say "vegan/vegetarian" on the description. that's okay, because i know the vegan part is true. 

during my last visit to bloomington, i didn't have time to fully partake in the vegan delicious-ness offered by the owlery. i did have time for some cupcakes. 

here's what i had ...

lavender cupcake & coconut lime cupcake :
wow. aren't these the most beautiful vegan cupcakes you've ever seen?
the frosting on the lavender cupcake was awesome. so unique & tasty. the cake part was a little dry, but that's ok. the coconut lime cupcake was overall delicious. i loved the coconut flakes ... and there were little bits of lime baked right into the cake. yum. 

i also had a slice of carrot cake from the owlery, but it got a bit mushed up in transport. the carrot cake? um, wow. sooooo good. it didn't have a traditional vegan cream cheese frosting flavor. just super sweet-ness.

these little cupcakes were such a tease ... i can't wait to head back to bloomington to try the rest of the owlery's menu! 

20 February 2013

naked pizza.

various peeps have been telling me about naked pizza for some time now ... well, since one opened over on diversey last spring/summer. 

naked pizza's mantra is all about "delicious, honest pizza with no freaky chemicals, based on the latest nutritional science." sounds right up the vegan alley, right?

i had heard two different opinions about naked pizza before trying it.
      the non-vegan side : delish!
      the vegan side : good, but a little heavy handed on the daiya.  

either way, i had to give it a try. here's what i had ...

vegan pizza :
daiya mozzarella cheese, black olives, spinach & artichokes. 
i'm not sure the last time i had a legit pizza with actual vegan cheese. so naked pizza really hit the mark there. the only issue i had was too.much.daiya. oh, and not enough veggies! i love lots o' veg on my pizza (i am vegan, after all).  my vegan friend was right. 

but i think this issue is really a vegan/non-vegan one. i used to be a regular old eater. and i can honestly tell you ... you can't ever have too much cheese on a pizza. but for vegans, you can have too much vegan "cheese." so to pile on the daiya ... slightly too much.

don't get me wrong ... i did enjoy naked pizza .... and i will certainly try it again. in fact, i'm looking forward to it! next time : light daiya, extra veg. mmm.

17 February 2013

grange hall burger bar.

the words "burger bar" do not conjure up ideas of vegan deliciousness. that being said, grange hall burger bar is the exception to that rule (that i just made up).

"a new farm-t0-table philosophy ... that will bring you back to a simpler, healthier, tastier time." 'nuff said, let's go.

here's what i had ... 

rainbow dark chips :
no dip (not vegan). 
thumbs up! (thanks, hoppie & piet.) who doesn't love fresh, homemade potato chips?

miss may's seasonal salad :
romaine, oranges, red onion, grapes, grape tomatoes, yellow peppers, avocado & walnuts ... w/ a citrus herb vinaigrette. 
ok, for a salad ... this was lit-rally awesome (to quote chris traegar). i normally don't like nuts on my salad, but the walnuts here gave this dish the perfect added texture and flavor. i snarfed it. oh, and the dressing? also super amazing. overall, fresh yumminess. 

steamin' baked northern beans :
seasoned with fennel.
i was sooo excited to see a side dish that was vegan. i didn't taste the fennel that much... for some reason, i couldn't place the exact flavor i was tasting (and neither could the guys i was with). but that doesn't mean these weren't super tasty. try them and let me know what you think...

strawberry sorbet :
and labeled as such. super strawberry flavorful-ness. some of the non-vegans put the sorbet on top of their non-vegan chocolate pie. and said it was awesome, too. sorbet : a great way to end a meal is what i always say.

as soon as i left grange hall burger bar, i immediately called josh to tell him how great it was and how much he would like it (yes, for the non-vegan burgers). i can't wait to go back!

ps -- grange hall burger bar does offer a vegetarian burger (held together with eggs). just not vegan. someday!

13 February 2013


"italian inspired. honest cooking." how great does that sound? pretty great. and that's just what balena, right on n. halsted street in lincoln park, is all about.

i recently headed over to balena with ...

my pretty friend, jessie :
we wined & dined. xx!

jessie had been to balena before, but i had not. she had informed me that the decor was beautiful ... damn. she was right. balena is located where landmark grill used to be. and if i remember correctly, the atmosphere in that place was a bit of a cluster ... chef/owner chris pandel & his team did a fantastic job on the re-design. 

anyway, here's what i had ...

wild arugula salad :
with winter citrus & lemon vinaigrette. 
this simple salad is my absolute favorite way to eat arugula. a light vinaigrette and some fresh, tasty citrus & crisp greens. so good.

 tuscan kale & farro bowl :
with pine nuts, kalamata olives & sliced fennel. 
one of the best things about eating at restaurants that have chefs who care ... is that they (sometimes) enjoy (i hope!) coming up with a vegan option when none are available on the regular menu. and this time, chef pandel created quite the treat. it was simply sooo flavorful. i love me some kale (as you know), so i was super excited to see it on the menu ... and even more excited to have it incorporated into my meal. everything was super fresh and the farro (i think it was farro) was the perfect grain for the dish. all in all, great, diverse texture & taste. oh, and the kalamata olive bits added the perfect amount of salty amazingness to the meal. mmm!

balena is definitely on my repeat list. i can't wait to bring josh back for a date night. buon appetito! 

10 February 2013

cabo san lucas, mexico : mi casa restaurant.

ah, the final post from mexico (we made it! 6 of 6) ... 

on our last night in cabo san lucas, we ended up at mi casa restaurant, where "they entice all the senses, not just the sense of taste." very. very. very true.

lots of bright colors ... lots of singing & other special performances ... lots of margaritas ... i can't really describe it ... it's more of a "you've gotta see it to believe it" situation.

the most major win of mi casa, you ask? delicious salad options. 

here's what i had ...  

la mixta de la huerta :
all ingredients from local, organic farms ... mixed lettuces & a grilled mix of zucchini, red onions, corn & colored bell peppers. topped w/ crunchy tortilla strips and pineapple-cilantro-jalapeno vinaigrette. no cotija cheese.
at this point in the trip, i was ready for a salad. and this one was super awesome. i loved it for so many reasons ... local, organic ingredients being the main one(s). everything really was sooo fresh. and the dressing was weird, but surprisingly good. yum.

mi casa does have a vegetarian menu ... but the items are almost entirely cheese based (i mean quesadillas, chiles rellenos, stuff like that), so nothing that can be vegan-ized. 

but that is a-okay. because the salad i had was perfect. easy & light ... just what i needed after a week of guacamole & fried chips. mmm.

06 February 2013

sprinkles cupcakes.

sometimes, a girl just wants a cupcake. for vegans? not always the easiest task.

fear not ... sprinkles cupcakes to the rescue. sprinkles is located off michigan avenue on east walton street. shopping + cupcakes? #winwin.

"sprinkles gourmet cupcakes are a deliciously sophisticated update on an american classic." and the fact that they offer a vegan version of the red velvet (everyday!) means they take the cake. (who loves a good dessert pun? me, obvi.)
v is for vegan :
vegan red velvet cupcake & doggie friendly cupcake. 

minnie's reaction to her doggie cupcake pretty much sums it up ...
my face looked pretty much exactly the same [super excited] when i was enjoying my enormous vegan cupcake

what i like the most about this red velvet cupcake is that the cake part isn't too too sweet. but the faux cream cheese frosting is super sweet ... so it balances out the cake part perfectly. super delicious.

 vegans, be happy. and head to sprinkles cupcakes stat.

03 February 2013

cabo san lucas, mexico : la golondrina.

my first real mexican food post from mexico! olé!

in my opinion (obviously, it's my blog), la golondrina is a cabo san lucas staple. 

both of my trips to cabo were around new years eve ... and both of those nye dinners were spent at la golondrina, "cabo's premier restaurant" where you can "dine under the stars." lovely

a little late now, but ...
happy new year! 
josh, me & my brother-in-law, aaron.

the owners of la golondrina are very smart ... 1. their entire menu is written on a big board, which you walk up to and decide what you'd like ... 2. they have english-speaking staff standing around the board, available to answer questions. genius. my conversation started off something like this ... "hi! i'm vegan. what can i eat?"

here's what i had ... 

pico de gallo salsa :
fresh perfection. 

guacamole :
i may have forgotten to ask if the chips are vegan. but they weren't greasy at all, which using all sorts of logic, leads me to believe they are. 
super tasty guacamole. i'd expect nothing less though. everywhere we went had the best guacamole.

vegetable enchiladas :
no cheese. no sour cream.
my english speaking friend confirmed that both the rice & beans were vegan friendly, somewhat of a rarity. so that was exciting. these vegetable enchiladas? top.notch. i was quite pleased to have such an authentic-feeling mexican dinner. yum. 

my favorite part about la golondrina is the "dine under the stars" aspect. it's just fun to sit outside, surrounded by little trees decked out in christmas lights. they've even got little ponchos sitting on the backs of the chairs in case it gets chilly (which it did). 

again, la golondrina is simply a cabo san lucas staple. certainly on our list of repeat stops.