Native Foods Café is found nuzzled in the neighborhood of Wicker Park. I was very happy to hear of this restaurant opening in 2011. A new vegan restaurant within blocks of my condo seemed down right too good to be true. Native Foods Cafe serves delicious, organic, healthy, fun food that honors the environment and harms not a single animal in the making (noted in their website www.nativefoods.com).
As best stated in their website "Chef-crafted is Tanya's mantra: fresh foods using organic and local ingredients whenever possible. Everything on Chef Tanya’s menu is made fresh from scratch everyday.... from the seitan to the sauces and desserts, and even the tempeh! Her vision: share the flavor and love with the world--both vegans and non-vegans alike".
I personally think that Native Foods Cafe is perfect for someone transitioning into veganism. There are so many hearty faux 'meat' options on the menu that one won't miss eating an animal at all. The Scorpion Burger is my personal favorite as far as a 'hearty option' goes. If you are a meat eater simply exploring what this 'Veganism Craze' is all about, this is the restaurant I would recommend you visit. There is a even meatball sub on the menu for someone like, my brother for example (You know, the big burly guy who loves his meat):
Super Italian Meatball Sub
Native Sausage Seitan meatballs, marinara sauce, caramelized onions, roasted sweet peppers, pumpkin seed pesto, ranch dressing and Native Parmesan on a warm grilled baguette.
The portions are very large - one plate always seems to be enough for two people. You can find everything from Nachos, Chicken Wings, Chicago 'Dip AJus' to Cupcakes, Brownies, Cheesecake, etc.
I think Native Foods Cafe sends a wonderful message to carnivores that you do not have to participate in the animal slaughter to eat delicious food! I think when a lot of people think 'vegan' they envision 'lettuce and fruit'......and as a result, they further think 'deprivation'. I know people think this b/c I have listened to friends share their views. I used to think this myself actually. How presumptuous I was & equally, how wrong.
Native Foods Cafe is a bit hectic yet boasts a fun atmosphere! The staff is beyond friendly and the manager often stops at your table to see how you are enjoying your meal.
As I am always honest in my reviews, the one area where Native Foods needs to improve is as follows: You stand in line to order your food - similar to at a grocery store. You place your order at the cashier station & upon being given a table #, you sit wherever you'd like and wait for your lunch/dinner. The staff takes a LOT of time explaining menu options, etc. to each patron. I recall waiting 15 minutes once behind a couple who had simply ordered burgers (la de da de do - tapping my foot). They stood chatting away w/ the staff behind the counter afterwards with no regard for the long line behind them. I think it would be so much more efficient if patrons placed their orders & then a staff member shared details w/ them, at their table.
I consider this restaurant a scrumptious splurge & give it 7 Stars - on a 1 to 5 Scale. I dig.
I highly recommend Native Foods to anyone transitioning into a vegan diet. My favorites are listed below:
Salad greens, fresh avocado and cucumber salsa, creamy chipotle sauce and your choice of crispy, blackened or grilled Native Chicken in an organic whole wheat wrap.
Very Veggie Wrap
Garlic roasted vegetables, our homemade 'giardiniera extraordinaire' and hummus, sliced avocado, alfalfa sprouts and ranch dressing, artfully wrapped in a warm, whole wheat tortilla.
Fresh cut romaine lettuce tossed with Kalamata olives, crisp cucumbers, red onions, and peppers, with a roasted tomato oregano vinaigrette. Topped with homemade 'Native feta', sweet balsamic glaze and crispy chickpeas.
Chef Tanya’s original tempeh burger! Homemade blackened Tempeh, chipotle sauce, romaine, carrots, avocado and onions.
Add melted cheddar.
Thanks for checking out my latest 'Chicago In Review'! If you want to head over to Native Foods, there are 3 locations in Chicago:
1023 West Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
Mon-Sun: 11AM - 10PM
CHICAGO - LOOP
218 South Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60604
Mon-Fri: 10:30am – 8pm
Sat: 10:30am – 4pm
1484 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Mon-Sun: 11AM - 10PM
Girl Gone Vegan,