25 February 2015

cabo san lucas : bar esquina.

for our last night in cabo, we visited bar esquina at the bahia hotel & beach club. what better place to spend your last tropical evening than a beach club?! 

about bar esquina : "cabo's newest first-class restaurant, bar esquina, features a unique twist on international creative cuisine. mexican influenced mediterranean flavors using locally grown, organic produce." when so tired of chips & guac, this is the perfect change of pace!

here's what i had ...

quinoa & roasted veggies :
hehe. kind of a funny presentation.
but tasty nonetheless! there was a nice ginger beet sauce on the veggies that really livened things up. and even though i don't really like quinoa, i was ready for it after so much mexican food. 

i said it before & i'm going to repeat it now ... bar esquina is the perfect cabo restaurant for when you are just plain tired of the usual.

bar esquina
avenida del pescador, s/n
el medano
23410 cabo san lucas, bcs, méxico

22 February 2015

update : rpm italian.

okay ... i finally went back for round 2 ... that is, back to rpm italian in river north (ish).

rpm is "a modern italian restaurant by bill & giuliana rancic, doug psaltis & lettuce entertain you." mmm.

i first went to rpm not long after they opened ... since then, i've been wanting to go back, but just haven't! and with my gal pal from nyc (hi, melissa!) in town, the gang & i decided it was the perfect spot for a #gno.

here's what i had ...

giuliana's italian salad :
kind of a basic salad, but chock full of pepperoncinis & tomatoes ... so i was pumped.

strozzapreti w/ arugula pesto :
guys, wait. this is so good. i hadn't had pesto in a long, so not only was this delicious, but it also hit the spot like woah.

not going to lie ... i also had some mama depandi's pomodoro, which was also awesome -- and still awesome when i finished it (cold) for breakfast the next day. 
oh, i did find out that the roman artichokes aren't actually vegan, as they aren't fried in a vegan frier. so keep that in mind, vegans. besides that ... an overall lovely meal. (our server even brought me some fresh fruit gratis for dessert so i wouldn't be the only one without a treat!) i'll be back, hopefully it doesn't take another two years to get there.

rpm italian
52 w. illinois street
chicago, il 60654

18 February 2015

kingsbury street cafe.

vegan brunch!! always difficult ... but kingsbury street cafe (across from the big whole foods) in lincoln park remedies that for us ...

the kingsbury street cafe facebook page describes them as this : "american breakfast, brunch & lunch! our food looks & tastes fantastic!" that's enough to get me interested.

here's what i had ...

garden tofu scramble w/ miso :
spinach, red pepper, broccoli, organic tofu & miso w/ herb potatoes, vegan breakfast patty & vegan bread.
one word : wow. the scramble was awesome. (not going to lie, i nixed the mushrooms it came with & added broccoli, for an extra charge -- whatever.) the vegan breakfast patty & bread were both delicious ... oh, the potatoes? i mean, you can't go wrong really, so i was pretty pleased there, as well.

since kingsbury street cafe has this delicious vegan dish on their brunch menu full time, you can be certain i'll be back (even though it is hella loud in there) ... maybe even to try some other meals! but until then, at least we know of somewhere that has legit brunch food.

kingsbury street cafe
1523 n. kingsbury street
chicago, il 60642

15 February 2015

san josé del cabo : flora's field kitchen.

flora farm entered into my life when i saw that a fashion blogger i follow stopped there during her trip in los cabos. after i saw her photo, i knew i needed to investigate further.

per their website ... "for over 10 years we have been farming without the use of pesticides or genetically modified seeds ... we have dedicated 100% of our production to local consumption."

examples of organic, non-gmo, non-pesticided produce :
greens & such.

mixed vegetables.


look at that beautiful produce!! right!! but that's just the beginning. there are more reasons to love flora farm, one of which is flora's field kitchen, a restaurant located at the farm. 

more details : "flora's field kitchen is about handmade food using our farm fresh ingredients. our goal is to create a healthy family meal with a sense of place."

here is me & josh, experiencing the sense of place :
i know what you're thinking ... "she could be a farmer in those clothes." #winning

anywho, down to business ... here's what i had ...

veggie chips :
sweet potatoes, beets & swiss chard.
what's not to like?

grilled eggplant & zucchini sandwich :
with a mixed vegetable salad. 
in mexico, one can often get sick of mexican food ... so this was a perfect respite. fresh, tasty, obviously high quality ... amazing.

some other reasons to be obsessed with flora farm ...
     1. they take in stray doggies & let them roam the grounds.
     2. there are various artisanal boutiques the pop into.
     3. you can stay in these super cool cottages at.the.farm.
     4. it's just oh-so-pretty.

although it's kind of a major pain to get to, if you're in los cabos ... i'd but this on my must stop list.

flora farm
san josé del cabo - la paz
23407 san josé del cabo, bcs, méxico

11 February 2015

the winchester.

i first heard about the winchester in west town / ukrainian village a while back ... but i didn't know much about them.

then their pr people sent me some info in december :
     the chef is greg bastien.
     it's an all-day neighborhood café serving breakfast, lunch & dinner.
     2015 is about "cleaning up our act" when it comes to eating ... especially after the holidays.

so i was already pretty much sold. then i found this out : "the winchester utilizes produce, meats & artisanal products from local, organic providers." now, definitely sold.

this post features the outstanding brunch menu at the winchester. so get ready. oh, this was a late-brunch, post-pilates situation ... so by time we actually ordered, i was somewhat ravenous. it may appear that i ate a lot ... because i did. #nojudgment.

here's what i had ... 

special green juice :
kale, celery, apple & some other green things.
once a green juice lover, always a green juice lover. delicious.

avocado toast :
w/ grapefruit & chilies. 
 fresh avocado ... a lil spice in the chilies ... thick-cut tasty toast. a complete win/win.

house granola :
w/ coconut yogurt. 
i was pumped for the coconut yogurt & granola option mostly because i've never had it & certainly have never seen it on a menu. it was outstanding ... and i've already bought the ingredients to replicate for breakfast throughout the upcoming week.

not going to lie ... the brunch at the winchester is great ... the main qualifier? their super tasty vegan stuff. the issue? service is sloooow. not a big deal if you are there for a casual brunch ... but something to keep in mind if you're on a schedule. but either way, definitely worth a visit. i'll definitely be back for dinner!

the winchester
1001 n. winchester ave.
chicago, il 60622

08 February 2015

guest post #5 : dönermen food truck.

well, we've reached the end of our fun little journey with the dear vikki otero, first guest blogger on the chi city vegan. 

a special thank you to vikki for doing this! 

As we approached the Christkindlmarket on the day before Thanksgiving for our annual gluhwein treat, my partner asked me what I was going to eat at the market. “French fries, fried potatoes, and maybe some potato pancakes if they don’t have egg,” I said. I said it with a poke and wink, but I wasn’t entirely joking. We like to go to festival/fair events, but the vegan pickings are typically slim, and often the potato is all that stands between me and starvation.

Time Out Chicago had ranked the eleven best things to eat or buy at the Christkindlmarket, including one food booth’s curry wurst. The words “curry” and “sausage” are like catnip to my partner, so he beelined for it while I took care of the alcohol purchase. When he returned, wurst in hand, he said, “Guess what they have?”

And that is how I discovered Dönermen, a food truck, caterer, and events booth. They are inspired by, and indeed named after, traditional Turkish/German meat kebabs, or döner. However, from the beginning, they’ve offered a vegan sausage, which they can use in any of their dishes.

dönermen food truck :
 image from donermen facebook page.

For Shawn Podgurski, the CEO of Dönermen, the option was prompted by personal experience. He’d had a number of vegan friends, and found that it was often challenging for them to find good food options when they were out and about. Those friends also noted to him that it would be such a simple fix for places to offer vegan fare, so when he began his food truck, the direction seemed clear. With the limited space of a food truck, Shawn figured out ways to minimize the amount of product he needs to produce. For example, rather than having a curry that uses animal broth for the traditional currywurst and a separate one for the vegan druidwurst, they just make one vegan curry sauce, “and we make it really good.”

Offering vegan food “just takes a few simple tweaks, so why not?” he said, noting that the mere fact that they have vegan options gets them attention. At one beer festival, they were the only vegetarian option, and they had a line stretching through the entire festival that didn’t stop until the end of the festival.

As a food truck, Dönermen doesn’t necessarily always have the same audience, and Shawn noted that the vegan options aren’t popular everywhere. The two locations where the truck most regularly sets up – near the University of Chicago and downtown – have very different reactions to the vegan options. At U Chicago, they “kill it” with the vegan fare, while downtown, the options aren’t as popular. Nevertheless, “these days everything counts,” Shawn said, and is happy to not only make money from the vegan options but also to be able to serve a population that is too easily ignored.

At Christkindlmarket, I enjoyed the druidwurst, that is, the vegan version of the currywurst. It was an excellent sausage and I can vouch for the fact that the curry sauce is as delicious as Shawn said. I look forward to visiting the truck sometime, as I’m always delighted to look out for businesses that look out for me.

dönermen twitter.

thanks again to vikki!!! who's next??!

04 February 2015

baba pita.

wow. one of my favorite, quick mediterranean places ... i'm shocked i've never posted on them before!! 

okay ... here it is : baba pita in the west loop. a really lovely lunch spot. well, to be honest. i've never eaten at the restaurant. but it's good for pick up or delivery, for sure.

anywho ... here's what baba pita has to say for themselves : "looking for a quick lunch or perhaps an exquisite vegetarian meal? healthy & tasty dinners with multiple courses, lively colors blended with savory & contrasting flavors, yet healthy & light, middle eastern cuisine could be the best option for you." see what i mean? 

here's what i had ...

veggie dolma plate :
grape leaves stuffed w/ seasoned rice, fresh lemon salad, hummus & pita bread.
i've gotten the same thing from baba pita for the past four or so years ... always high-quality & just generally tasty. you can't go wrong.

there's been a mishap with a change in the hummus recipe in the past (but they got back on track) ... & a moment with some miscommunication on the vegan-ness of the lentil soup (not.at.all. vegan or vegetarian), but besides those little snafus ... i'm telling you -- the most consistently good mediterranean food. two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

baba pita
1032 w. lake street
chicago, il 60607

01 February 2015

guest post #4 : john's of 12th street (nyc).

we've only got one more after this from vikki otero ... enjoy! 

My partner found John’s of 12th Street when we were in New York for a wedding a couple of years ago. (Halley’s been there, too!) We understood from his web search that this place would have some vegan options, but I was expecting the usual Italian compromise: spaghetti and marinara, maybe an egg-free gnocchi (if you’re lucky), and the dreaded garden salad.

I was pleased to find instead an entire, comprehensive vegan menu, from appetizers to desserts. So we make it a point to visit John’s whenever we are in New York City.

I spoke to one of the owners of John’s, Nick Sitnycky, after returning from New York a few weeks ago. He describes John’s as I would: “A good-ol’ New York Italian restaurant.” Indeed, their menu features much traditional, meat-and-cheese-heavy Italian dishes such as chicken or veal parmigiana, meat lasagna, Tuscan ragu, and linguini with clam sauce. Their vegan menu, though, includes seitan and eggplant parmigiana with Daiya cheese, a vegan version of their Tuscan ragu, cashew-based alfredo sauce, and five different desserts. Everything, from their cashew cream to their seitan, is made in house.

vegan eggplant parmesan :

“Over the years, as you continue to do business, you have to reinvent yourself,” Nick said. He and his business partner purchased the restaurant in 1973 – it had been open since 1908 – and in the process of updating their identity, they noticed that many people were changing their dietary habits and moving toward a diet less dependent on meat and dairy.

Nick’s partner’s wife was the creator and instigator of the vegan vision, seeing it as an opportunity to get into a brand new market that they had not previously accommodated. It was solely a business decision; they didn’t know any vegans and thus had no personal stake in the transformation. Now, however, everyone that comes into the restaurant gets a vegan menu, which notifies them of the option and lets them tell their friends. They also have a great deal of repeat business from around the country and around the world, including people (like me) who come there just because we feel so very welcome and accommodated.

vegan cannoli :

Nick reports that their vegan menu accounts for about ten to twelve percent of their business, and that it has been their biggest growing revenue generator. What’s more, it ensures that everyone is “one hundred percent welcome and one hundred percent satiated. When you have a party of ten to twelve people and some are vegan and some are not, here, everyone gets to eat.”

Nick gets it. Sure, I can cobble something that will keep me from starving at most places, but to have a place make it clear that my patronage is just as important as that of my meat-eating or ovo-lacto friends ensures that I will continue to spend my money there.

john's of 12th street
302 e. 12th street
new york, ny 10003

so thank you, nick & everyone at john's of 12th street! i'm looking forward to going back!!