Let’s Dish: Did You Say Vegetarian?

{Featured Image: La Sirena Clandestina’s La Bomba}

Chicago’s culinary scene is a force to be reckoned with. World class restaurants, Chefs and food writers alike combine to make the city’s food dynamic stand out within the states. Whether you’re a vegetarian for life, or simply trying it out for the night, these five Chefs have added ideal veggie go-to’s to support their meat heavy menu’s at some of Chicago’s top restaurants.

Restaurant: Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Chef: Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp
Why It’s Great for Vegetarians: Honey Butter Fried Chicken may be an emporium dedicated to the beautiful bird, but their menu caters directly to veggies and even vegans with dishes such as the Fried Onion String Sandwich (vegan!), served with a heap of fried onion strings, smoky paprika, roasted garlic hummus, pea tendrils and roasted red pepper on a Ciabatta bun. Also, more than half of their sides are vegetarian delights, such as the infamous Pimento Mac’n Cheese, and Kale and Cabbage Slaw with grass-fed yogurt, cumin dressing and dried pomegranate.

Restaurant: Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap
Chef: Nick Santangelo
Why It’s Great for Vegetarians: While most know of Jake Melnick’s for their award-winning chicken wings and mouth-watering BBQ, the menu boasts a bevy of options vegetarians will have a hard time choosing just one or two. Chef Nick cites the Grilled Portobello Mushroom Rueben with marinated Portobello’s, melted Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing to be a favorite amongst non-meat eaters, as the Portobello lends the textural component of meat with complimenting flavors and texture in the sauerkraut and Swiss. Additional options include The Big Cheese sandwich, housemade Veggie Burger and Jake’s ever-indulgent Crispy Southern Fried Pickles.

Restaurant: La Sirena Clandestina
Chef: John Manion
Why it’s great for Vegeterians: Known for their array of grilled meats that range from the signature piri piri chicken thighs to the hanger steak, La Sirena Clandestina reserves a special section on their menu for meat-free options, as well as offering a rotating vegetarian empanada daily. Letting seasonal produce shine on the menu, Chef Manion’s staples such as the La Bomba Rice with sweet corn, zucchini, basil and parmesan as well as the Tomato and Burrata with housemade burrata, market tomatoes and flatbread made with chimichurri oil prove to give the restaurant’s meat options a run for their money.

Restaurant: River Roast
Chef: James Beard Award winning Chef Tony Mantuano and Executive Chef John Hogan
Why It’s Great for Vegetarians: Inspired by London roasteries, Chef John Hogan’s Chicago restaurant, River Roast, is known for its visually compelling, shareable, and whole-roasted meat entrees including a whole chicken and whole fish. However, fans of the restaurant know Chef Hogan’s veggie dishes are where it’s at, including the seasonally changing Boatload of Roasted Veggies (currently a giant poblano pepper stuffed with creamy cauliflower “risotto”). His famous Carrots & Dirt with pumpernickel bread crumbs, goat cheese, and a light balsamic dressing are delicious enough to be a meal on its own. Chef Hogan’s veggies are on-trend with chefs paying increased attention to the veggie-centric dishes on their menu, rather than letting the proteins steal the show.

Restaurant: TÊTE
Chef: Kurt Guzowski and Thomas Rice
Why It’s Great for Vegetarians: While Tete makes a name for itself with house cured meats and terrines and composed sausage dishes, most people aren’t aware that Chef’s Kurt and Tom make downright delicious vegetables too. The Garden Cocotte, made with over 30 fruits and vegetables, has gained major clout in the vegetable arena in Chicago.

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