After back-to-back holiday soirees, you’re probably maneuvering like an American Ninja Warrior to get into your jeans. Battle well fought my friend, but the buffet tables are stage five clinging.
The holiday food hangover you’re experiencing is real, and there’s no end in sight (hello, mandatory weekly family dinners at your in-laws).
Well no more, mama’s getting into her skinnies. Put the beef in the freezer, and … wait for it … go meatless, for at least one meal a day, for a week.
Here are a few of my favorite meatless and non-dairy dishes around Oak Park/River Forest and Chicago.
3057 W. Logan Blvd., Chicago
I’m sure they are used to the puns, but this place is my jam. Their culinary masterpieces are the ones you are jealous of on your foodie friend’s instagram page. Chef Ian Voakes creates his seasonal dishes, and incredible signature jams, with the highest quality ingredients.
Try their Vegetable Panini (vegetarian: butternut squash, balsamic onion jam, pesto, cheese and arugula) or any of their egg and waffle specials. As winners of the Michelin Bib Gourmand distinction for four years running, they take pride in providing high class, yet affordable, breakfast fare.
Don’t pass up: Bottomless Metropolis Coffee with doughnuts, and their jams.
104 N. Marion St., Oak Park
This is a small but cozy BYOB vegetarian restaurant located on the cutest little street in Oak Park. Munch has a rotation of flavorful soups and hearty veggie specials. Regular cheese or vegan cheese can be added to your dish, and their gluten free menu is outstanding. If you’re desperately missing meat, there are delicious alternatives like their “Chicken” Pita Wrap (Vegan: Seitan marinated in fresh tarragon, caramelized onions, cucumbers and an herbed veganaise on a whole wheat wrap.)
The dessert counter is also fair game for vegans, and should not be looked over.
Don’t pass up: Their smashed sweet potatoes, and one (or two) chocolate peanut butter cookies.
Pork & Mindy’s
1623 N. Milkwaukee, Chicago
Food Network’s Sandwich King took his talents to Bucktown. Executive Chef (and native Elmwood Parker) Jeff Mauro created a menu from simple ingredients, and twisted them into the most delicious creations you never knew you were missing in your sandwich. While it may be impossible to take a pass on the Pig Candy BLT, once you sample their Smoked Mozzarella on toasted focaccia (Vegetarian: basil, a balsamic glaze and sun-dried tomatoes) you will be a fan for life.
Don’t pass up: Three-Tone Power Slaw … and an extra order of Tater Tots (Tot’Tine).
The Little Gem Café
189 N. Marion St., Oak Park
This Little Gem is one of my absolute favorite places to dine. Open just over a year now, you feel like you are walking into a quaint Parisian café. Wine, romantic lighting and exposed brick exudes the perfect casual-chic ambiance. While the meats are exquisite (I hear, cough cough) their veg-friendly menu is a real hidden gem. The menu boasts a Vegetable Pave dish, but Chef Marcel Ivan made me an off-the-menu completely vegan quinoa dish that I can’t be back soon enough for. (Vegan: Quinoa, barley, tomatoes, lentils, roasted brussel sprouts, and so much more.) My happy carnivore of a husband even wanted a second bite of this chef masterpiece.
Maya Del Sol
144 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park
This Latin Fusion restaurant in Oak Park is cherished by locals, and revisited for their drinks and lively atmosphere. With a separate vegan and gluten free menu, everyone at the table will be excited to sample the goods. The Tostada Portobello is hearty, tasty and vegan (ask them to hold the sour cream and add a side of beans and rice. (Vegan: Sautéed Portobello, black beans, avocado, pico de gallo and balsamic over a bed of greens.) Let’s be honest, anywhere that serves up a mean guacamole is going to make my top five.
Don’t pass up: The Coyopa Margarita
Have more favorite vegetarian and vegan dishes to share with us? Share this article and tag @ChicagoMomGoesSuburban (or @MomGoesSuburban on Twitter) to start the conversation!
Michelle is a mom to three boys from River Forest. She writes about her life surrounded by (sports) balls on Instagram and Facebook at @ChicagoMomGoesSuburban.
See more of Michelle's stories here.
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